The most popular esports events of 2018 have been revealed by the ESC (Esports Charts), with many old and established tournaments retaining strong interest despite the emergence of new games.
The figures, which are based on hours watched on both YouTube and Twitch, show which competitive esports games are more popular than others right now in terms of viewers.
League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive dominate the most watched games chart according to these statistics, all boasting incredible numbers in various competitions.
The 2018 League of Legends World Championship stage.
Unsurprisingly for some, the League of Legends World Championship was the biggest event of the year having attracted over 74.3 million viewers, which is 2.5 million more than last year’s iteration.
Just behind that was Dota 2’s ‘The International’, which massively grew in popularity in the space of a year – recording 52.8 million views, seeing an increase of 9 million since 2017. In third place, CS:GO’s ELEAGUE Major which was watched by 49.5 million across the world.
OpTic Gaming and Envy have always been rivals in competitive Call of Duty, though the Green Wall might have a new contender to look out for, with the LA Thieves primed to steal the spotlight in 2021’s hottest matchup.
There has always been one constant in the Call of Duty scene. When OpTic and Envy square off, everyone tunes in. The ‘eClasico’ has long been one of the biggest showdowns in all esports. But with the dawn of a new competitive season, could it now be time for another historic rivalry to emerge?
With Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez and the power of the Green Wall helping build Matthew ‘Nadeshot’ Haag into the cultural icon he is today, there’s no denying the rich history between the two CDL franchise owners. After a year on the sidelines, Nadeshot’s LA Thieves finally have a chance to steal the show and perhaps steal some of OpTic’s momentum in the process.
Could OpTic have new rivals for the year ahead? Will this hotly anticipated clash become Call of Duty’s next unmissable matchup? Only time will tell how this budding feud will evolve, though no two teams have more potential to capture the entire esports community in 2021 quite like OpTic Chicago and the LA Thieves.
H3CZ and Nadeshot: The friendliest of rivals
H3CZ and Nadeshot are cut from the same cloth in that they’re both extremely passionate fans of their own organizations.
It’s near impossible to think of the powerhouse CDL brands without thinking of the faces behind them. While current owners of their respective organizations, the esports journeys of H3CZ and Nadeshot have been intertwined for more than a decade now.
OpTic Gaming was the first Call of Duty team Nadeshot ever represented at the professional level. It’s the pillar in esports history he helped build as captain over a six-year competitive career. It was the foundation from which he became one of the biggest stars in the gaming industry.
Nadeshot and H3CZ were inseparable throughout OpTic’s early rise in the esports industry.
Since his departure in 2015, Nadeshot has been replicating that success at 100 Thieves and now, the LA Thieves CDL franchise. While the pair were inseparable in the past, they’ll both be gunning for the top spot on different teams in 2021.
Both are uber-competitive at their core, but we’ve still rarely seen that competitive edge come out against one another. Their teams made their League of Legends debut side by side in 2018, facing off a handful of times throughout the year. Meanwhile, we only had one year to enjoy the matchup in Call of Duty.
Each time they met, however, it started to feel increasingly significant. In fact, the last time they were against one another, happened to be when the stakes were highest: in the 2019 Champs lower bracket finals.
100 Thieves got the better of OpTic throughout most of 2019.
A 3-0 sweep for the Thieves is how their final showdown in Call of Duty came to an end. Knowing the importance of Champs to everyone involved, especially H3CZ, there’s no chance that loss doesn’t sting to this day.
Now, both owners have revitalized their presence in the scene and both are ready to come out swinging with who they believe are the best players in the world today. No matter how many times they meet in 2021, nor who emerges as the victor each time around, all eyes will be on H3CZ and Nadeshot.
Dashy’s golden opportunity against the Thieves
2021 is Dashy’s chance to right the wrongs from the inaugural CDL season.
2020 wasn’t the follow-up Dashy had hoped for after a breakout year in Black Ops 4. His initial run with OpTic was full of extraordinary highlights and standout performances but it all came crashing down with the release of Modern Warfare.
As franchising took hold of the scene, Dashy was left behind while OpTic transitioned into a completely different entity. With H3CZ now building out the Huntsmen brand under NRG, Dashy did all he could to be traded over. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t in the cards. Despite allegedly threatening to bench himself, he was re-signed to a spot at OGLA.
What followed was a turbulent year throughout the inaugural CDL season with Dashy reluctantly playing alongside new teammates in SlasheR, Kenny, and JKap. Poor placements at early events saw Dashy relegated to the bench, with little hope of turning things around.
2020 was a rough year for Dashy having spent a good amount of time on the OGLA bench.
Cut to 2021, a year which H3CZ predicts will be “transformative” for Dashy. Now, the stage is set for the ultimate comeback in every sense of the word. Not only does he have a chance to live up to his 2019 hype, but he’ll be able to do so against the roster that seemingly held him back in 2020.
When OpTic Chicago squares off against the Los Angeles Thieves in 2021, it’ll be Dashy taking on his former teammates. He has a chance to wipe the slate clean against the Thieves.
We may be in a different cycle with Black Ops Cold War, though emphatic victories over SlasheR, Kenny, and TJHaLy throughout the season, could reignite his star power. Not to mention, Dashy also has a history with Temp as well, having teamed together much earlier in their careers.
On the other side of the coin, LA trumping their rivals at Chicago would only add fuel to the fire. While friends outside the lobby, there’s no denying the trash talk between maps would be on another level given the history between players.
TJHaLy’s shot at revenge on OpTic
TJHaLy now finds himself going against former OpTic teammates Scump and Dashy.
While every player on both sides has their reasons to win, TJHaLy might have a bigger fire under him than anyone else. As the CDL came into effect, he too was left behind alongside Dashy.
Things didn’t quite pan for his first year in the league, and now, the iceman is completely separated from his former teammates. There’s no more Scump next to him on stage, no more Dashy hyping him up online.
For once, he’ll be on the opposite side in the lobby.
Again, he’s close friends with everyone outside of the game. But when it comes time to load in against OpTic, rest assured there will be an extra sense of motivation for TJHaLy.
He’ll be looking to prove he’s a top-tier player without them. That he can reach the top of the CDL rankings in spite of them. Ultimately, show his team is stronger than theirs.
TJHaLy will be looking to prove himself against his former OpTic teammates.
Making a statement and trying to topple the current OpTic lineup will be a storyline to watch throughout the year. Questions will be answered as the spotlight shines on TJHaLy to outperform his former allies turned rivals.
As some added spice to the matchup, no one can forget how 2020 came to an end for TJHaLy. Losing a game five, round 11 1v1 against Envoy is sure to have stung. Now TJ has every opportunity to move past that low point and prove himself a cut above Envoy and OpTic.
While H3CZ is inclined to promote Empire or FaZe as their biggest rivals for the year, there’s no denying that OpTic Chicago vs the LA Thieves has an unrivaled flair to it. With their legions of fans, it’s sure to captivate the community each time around unlike any other matchup this year.
It just so happens that fans won’t have to wait long to see their highly anticipated first showdown. The CDL’s Kick-Off Classic is bringing us six opening matchups from January 23 to January 24. Our first taste of the new eClasico closes the show, as the Thieves are all set to try and scale the Green Wall.