CSGO Tournaments and Leagues

The competitive scene in CSGO is unrestricted, meaning that any organizer can host a CSGO tournament or league. Compare CSGO to League of Legends for example, where the game developers, Riot Games is the only entity that organizes esports tournaments or leagues. An open esports eco-system for such a popular esport like CSGO results in hundreds of tournaments available for betting each year. The biggest CSGO prize pools were the WESG 2016 and WESG 2017, which both had a prize pool of $1,500,000. CSGO is the esport which is most frequently available for betting. With over 5000 different tournaments since 2012, it has kept punters busy for years. As this esport continues to grow, we can expect to be supplied with CSGO odds for many more years to come.

History of competitive Counter-Strike

As with some other historical games, the first form of Counter Strike was a mod of another hugely popular game, Half-Life. A community of gamers managed the Counter Strike mod for two years until Valve finally stepped in. They acquired the game and released the first version of Counter-Strike in 2000. The game became an instant hit and as the community grew bigger and bigger. Soon there were hardcore gamers who wanted to compete against each other. This created a demand for organized competitive Counter Strike esports.

In Sweden, a small community in a tiny city started hosting LANs where friends got together to play Counter Strike mainly. This LAN would eventually grow to become what we now know as DreamHack. At this point, however, it was small Counter Strike competitions among friends rather than a commercial form of Counter Strike esports tournaments. The first major commercial Counter Strike esports tournament was the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) Winter Championship in 2001. The now-legendary Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) with HeatoN and Potti won. The prize pool for this tournament was very impressive for the time, 32 teams competed for $150,000. Ninjas in Pyjamas walked away with $50,000.

Due to the popularity of Counter-Strike, more tournaments and leagues emerged with more teams competing and ever-increasing prize pools. In 2004, Counter Strike: Source was released. A true sequel for the first Counter Strike. The same gameplay and mechanics were used but with a new advanced game engine. With Source, Counter Strike esports shifted into another gear. It was now that gamers could go on to make a living out of playing CS. The scene was lucrative, and many organizations were started as a new entertainment industry began to form.

In 2007, Championship Gaming Series (CGS) was started. The projects were highly ambitious, even being broadcasted on cable TV. Two editions of CGS was held before it folded. Both CGS 2007 and CGS 2008 had prize pools of over $450,000. As a comparison, other, still existing Counter Strike tournaments like World Cyber Games (WCG), Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) and Copenhagen Games had prize pools ranging from $25,000 to 85,000.

Enter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

The years following the release of Source in 2004 and the release of CSGO in 2012, the competitive Counter Strike esports scene grew yearly. With eight years between the releases, the graphics and gameplay of Source were heavily outdated. The game was still hugely popular worldwide. With a massive player base waiting, CSGO was an immediate success. The game was faithful to the original but super fresh and modern. And, most importantly, made for competitive gaming and esports. Eight years on, CSGO still proves it worth as one of the three most popular esports in the world. The prize pools of CSGO tournaments are among the highest in the world of esports with the top organizations competing regularly. Below we will take a look at some of the most popular CSGO tournaments and leagues.

Most popular major CSGO tournaments and leagues

Major CSGO tournaments always have betting markets available. Starting from group stage matches, you can often find over 30 different betting options. The limits for majors are high due to the confidence in the odds offered by the bookmakers. As such, betting on CSGO major tournaments can be lucrative.


ELS is the world’s largest esports operator. Further down you’ll read about another massive CSGO league which is organized by ESL. ELS One is always a major CSGO tournament. It’s played in a different city each year and the stadiums where the tournaments are played turn into CSGO cathedrals.

In 2020, ESL One was going to celebrate   sixth year with a big bang in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus, ESL One Rio major was cancelled. The road to Rio was long, and 24 teams were expected to compete for the $1,000,000 prize pool. No word is out yet on a replacement tournament in its stead. Likely we will see some form of the online tournament instead.

ESL One is a fan favorite and has had successful events since 2014, most notable ESL One Katowice, ESL One Cologne and ESL One New York. Each time with a prize pool of $1,000,000 and labeled as a major CSGO tournament.

ESL Pro League

Electronic Sports League, commonly abbreviated as ESL is a yearly event where the top teams from North America and Europe compete for a prize pool that usually tops $1,000,000.

During the year, the top teams in each region compete in a league format online. During this period, the regular season, teams compete to finish in the top four in the respective region. As online play is concluded, the top four teams qualify for the offline LAN finals.

The LAN finals of ESL Pro League Season 11 was scheduled to take place in Denver, Colorado. However, due to Covid-19, it was decided that both the regular season and the finals will be played out online.

Intel Extreme Masters

Intel Extreme Master (IEM), as we already mentioned, has been running since 2007. It’s one of the longest-running esports tournaments in the Counter Strike franchise, starting with Counter Strike: Source. The first season of IEM had a prize pool of $120,000 where Team Pentagram walked away with $53,000 while winning the tournament.

Originally, IEM had a format of multiple smaller qualifying events leading up to a large offline LAN event. From its inception, IEM was named a truly global tournament spanning all regions of the world. IEM can be credited as one of the CSGO tournaments that helped push CS and CSGO to mainstream attention. IEM main events are played all over the world. Major IEM tournaments have been played in cities like Montreal, Los Angeles, Dubai, Chengdu, Kyiv, Melbourne and Guangzhou.

Legendary CSGO organizations like Ninjas in Pyjamas, SK Gaming, Natus Vincere and Astralis have won Intel Extreme Masters.

DreamHack Open

DreamHack was created by gamers for gamers back in the early 2000s in Jönköping, Sweden. At first, it was a small-scale BYOC LAN event. It later grew larger, and big esports tournaments were hosted. Today DreamHack Open is a tour that travels around the world. All types of esports are played in the DreamHack Open, but the CSGO tournaments are arguably the main attraction.

The DreamHack Open tour started in 2012 and has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Regularly 7-8 different locations host the DreamHack Open each year, each with a prize pool of $100,000. Last year CSGO DreamHack Open was played in Seville, Atlanta, Rotterdam, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Tours and of course in Jönköping, Sweden twice.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all LAN events were cancelled, and instead, regional online events have been held; North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania.


ELEAGUE is one of the younger tournaments on the CSGO competitive circuit. The first edition of ELEAGUE was hosted in 2016. ELEAGUE is likely the most ambitious legacy media investment into esports. Turner Sports are the organizers, a subsidiary of AT&T’s WarnerMedia group who are responsible for TNT and TBS and operate NBA.com, NCAA.com and PGA.com. As such, ELEAGUE has a great emphasis on production and broadcasting.

ELEAGUE hire the absolute top broadcast talent from interviewers, studio analysts and game commentators. The matches are played in a studio environment complete with a player area for interviews, a studio desk for analysts and a table for game commentators. A small live audience is also present.

The first editions of ELEAGUE saw prize pools of $1,000,000. The latest edition of ELEAGUE had a new format and was called CSGO Invitational. The tournament was held in 2019 with a prize pool of only $150,000 with only four teams invited. FaZe Clan won the tournament and the $80,000 in first prize.


StarLadder is a major force in esports today. They started out in 2001 but remained on a small scale within the CIS region until 2011 when they branched out and became a global esports organizer. Today, StarLadder is the biggest esports operator in the CIS region and among the top five globally.

Formats for CSGO tournaments include StarSeries i-League, ProSeries and the Invitationals. Last year, StarLadder hosted several minor events across the world; CIS, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Four minor CSGO tournaments leading up to the Berlin Major. The minors each had a prize pool of $50,000, and the major had a prize pool of $1,000,000 where Astralis succeeded Avangar in the finals and won $500,000. The StarLadder Berlin Major was heavily criticized for its poor production quality. It remains to be seen if they will be hosting any majors in the future.

Last year the 8th edition of the StarSeries i-League was played. The finals were played in Turkey, and 16 teams competed for a share of the $500,000 prize pool.

Most popular minor CSGO tournaments


The Esports Entertainment Association League is an online gaming community. ESEA has developed their own anti-cheat system which is used on their servers where all the different ESEA CSGO leagues and tournaments are played.

ESEA is available for all levels of competitive Counter Strike. On this list, we will go through the most prestigious ESEA leagues which are often available for betting. The most notable are ESEA Global Challenge, ESEA CSGO MDL, ESEA CSGO Advanced and ESEA CSGO Rank G.

The Global Challenge is the most prestigious ESEA CSGO tournament and features a prize pool of $75,000. The latest edition was won by the Tier 3 team forZe who walked away with $25,000. The upcoming Global Challenge was cancelled due to Covid-19 and instead had regional finals online in North America and Europe.

Betting on CSGO ESEA can be lucrative. There are a lot of unknown trash teams competing in some of these leagues and online bookmakers can often price the matches wrong. The limits are usually low for ESEA matches, but the value can be good.

FACEIT Pro League

FPL is another example of an online gaming community developing their own eco-system for competitive Counter Strike. FACEIT Pro League is hosted every month for North America and Europe respectively and has a prize pool of $20,000 for each iteration.

In 2018, FACEIT got to host a CSGO Major, FACEIT London 2018. Sixteen of the world’s best CSGO teams competed for a prize pool of $1,000,000 where Astralis won the massive $500,000 first prize.

CSGO leagues and tournaments FAQ


CSGO has the most tournaments yearly, with prize pools ranging from $1,000 to $1,000,000. Canadian bookmakers will offer odds on many of these tournaments where the best tournaments to bet on is the CSGO Major tournaments like ESL One, ELEAGUE, DreamHack Open and ESL Pro League. If you want to learn more about CSGO betting, we suggest that you read more about the game and check out our betting guide.