Biggest esports tournaments of 2023

by Brian Bencomo

We’re almost two weeks into the new year, and the esports calendar of major events for 2023 is starting to take shape. From League of Legends to VALORANT to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) to Rocket League and everything in between, there are many tournaments to look forward to this year. The list of events here includes over 20 major international offline LAN tournaments. That means no online competitions, regional events or ongoing league play like you might see in League of Legends’ regional leagues and CS:GO’s ESL Pro League.

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Each event listing includes as many details about it, including an explanation for why it matters and which teams or players to watch. More major tournaments will be announced later in the year, but for now, these are all the biggest events that have dates and/or locations announced.

Genesis 9

Super Smash Bros. Melee and Ultimate

San Jose, California

Jan. 20-22

Photo credit: Kenneth Rodriguez / @XenosMccloud

The first big Smash Melee tournament of the year will be the ninth edition of Genesis. Not only is it a Major, but it’s one of a handful of Supermajors, which give the tournament added prestige. Zain “Zain” Naghmi will be looking to follow in Melee god Adam "Armada" Lindgren’s footsteps and win his third consecutive Genesis. Zain won Genesis 7 in 2020 and Genesis 8 last year, setting the tone for a year in which he emerged as the best Melee player in the world. Old gods Joseph "Mango" Marquez and Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma will be contenders, as will 2022’s crop of Melee stars like Masaya "aMSa" Chikamoto, Cody "iBDW" Schwab and Jake "Jmook" DiRado.

Read more: Top 10 best Smash Melee players of 2022

In Smash Ultimate, T1’s Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez will be looking to defend his 2022 title and add a third Smash Ultimate Genesis trophy to his collection. Fellow Mexican Edgar "Sparg0" Valdez, a 17-year-old signed by FaZe Clan, had an incredible 2022 and is the most likely rival to take the crown from MkLeo. Frenchman William "Glutonny" Belaid and Americans Paris "Light" Ramirez Garcia and Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey are three other names to keep an eye on.

IEM Katowice

CS:GO

Katowice, Poland

Jan. 31 - Feb. 12

The first big CS:GO tournament of the year will be the annual 24-team Katowice event. Last year, FaZe Clan set the tone for their dominant year by winning Katowice before dropping off a bit late in the year. Heroic, Outsiders, Team Vitality, Team Liquid and G2 Esports all emerged later in 2022 and should all be contenders in Katowice along with FaZe and Natus Vincere.

CDL Major 2 -- Boston

Call of Duty

Boston, United States

Feb. 2-5

The New York Subliners will be looking to get back-to-back Major wins in Boston in February. The Subliners won the first Major of the season in December. It was the franchises’ first-ever tournament victory since forming part of the CDL beginning in 2020. Fan-favorite OpTic Gaming will be another team to keep an eye on, especially in light of a roster change following the first Major in which Cuyler “Huke” Garland replaced longtime OpTic player Brandon “Dashy” Otell. Major I runners-up Seattle Surge and the perennial contenders Atlanta FaZe also are two teams worth watching.

ALGS Split 1 Playoffs

Apex Legends

London, England

Feb. 2-5

Photo credit: EA

Forty of the best Apex Legends teams in the world will be dropping into London for the first international event of the ALGS 2022-23 season. Last season’s champions, DarkZero, are back but representing a new region -- North America instead of APAC South. Other major contenders at this tournament include North America’s TSM, XSET and The Guard, Europe’s Aurora Gaming and Pioneers, and APAC North’s Fnatic.

Read more: ALGS 2023 Split 1 Playoffs: All qualified teams

Six Invitational

Rainbow Six Siege

Montreal, Canada

Feb. 7-19

The Six invitational might be the first big Rainbow Six tournament of 2023, but it’s actually the season-ending championship event in the Rainbow Six esports 2022-23 season. The 20-team tournament returns to Montreal for the first time since 2020. The Six Invitational had been held in Montreal since its inception in 2017 through 2020. Last year, North America’s TSM won the tournament. However, European teams have been stronger this season, with Rogue (now known as KOI) and Team BDS entering the tournament with victories at Major tournaments in the latter half of 2022.

VALORANT LOCK//IN

VALORANT

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Feb. 13 - March 4

Photo credit: Red Bull

The biggest VALORANT tournament to date and the first of the new VCT partnership era will include all 30 partnered teams. It’ll be the first time this year fans will get to see many of these teams in action with their new rosters. With so much roster turnover in the offseason, it’s unclear who the best teams will be this year, but 100 Thieves should be a contender. In December, 100 Thieves won Red Bull Home Ground, one of the more prominent offseason tournaments involving North American and European teams. Natus Vincere, Team Liquid, Cloud9, NRG, DRX and Paper Rex also should be contenders.

Read more: The 2023 VCT Americas partner teams’ rosters

Capcom Cup IX

Street Fighter V

Los Angeles, United States

Feb. 14-19

This is set to be the first Capcom Cup since 2019 after COVID has scrapped plans for this tournament in recent years. It’s the season-ending event of the 2022 Capcom Pro Tour and will be the last one for Street Fighter V with Street Fighter VI scheduled to be released this summer. The 2022 Evo finalists Derek "iDom" Ruffin and Kawano will both be competing as will other contenders like KDavid "Justakid" Edwards and Li-Wei "Oil King" Lin. IDom is the defending Capcom Cup champ.

CDL Major 3

Call of Duty

Dallas, United States

March 9-12

The Dallas Major follows the Boston Major on the CDL’s 2023 calendar. Until we see the results of the Boston Major and whatever roster moves will follow it, it’s difficult to say which teams will be contenders at this tournament. One sure thing is that the crowd will be heavily backing OpTic.

Evo: Japan 2023

Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 and other fighting games

Tokyo, Japan

March 31 - April 2

It’s not quite Evo -- the biggest fighting game event of the year -- but Evo: Japan is a small preview of the bigger event usually held in the summer in Las Vegas. It’s the first edition of this tournament since 2020. Seven different fighting games will be contested, including major titles like Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 and Guilty Gear Strive. In Street Fighter, a new Capcom Cup champion will be looking to follow up that title with another major one at this tournament.

RLCS Winter Major

Rocket League

San Diego, United States

April 6-9

Photo credit: Psyonix

After the first Rocket League international tournament of the RLCS 2022-23 season was in Europe, the second global event of the year will be in North America. North America’s Gen.G are the defending Major champs and should be contenders if they qualify for the 16-team field. Fellow NA teams G2, FaZe, Version1 and Spacestation Gaming should be in the mix. As far as European teams, Karmine Corp, Team Liquid, Team BDS and Oxygen Esports are strong candidates to qualify, especially Oxygen after their big pickup of Finlay "rise" Ferguson.

CDL Major 4

Call of Duty

Location TBD

April 13-16

It has yet to be announced where this Major will take place after it was originally going to be in New York. Like Major 3, it’s difficult to say which teams will be contenders for this Major at this point.

League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational

League of Legends

London, England

May 2-21

Riot Games’ midseason international League of Legends tournament will be returning to Europe for the first time since 2018 and London for the first time ever. This year’s tournament will look a little different from previous years with more teams and a double-elimination play-in and bracket stage. There will be 13 teams that qualify for this tournament, including the spring champs from all nine LoL esports regions and the second-place teams from North America, Europe, China and Korea. The defending MSI champ is China’s Royal Never Give Up, and Korea’s T1 is expected to be a contender if they qualify given that they finished second at both MSI and Worlds last year.

Blast.tv Paris Major

CS:GO

Paris, France

May 8-21

Photo credit: PGL

There usually are two CS:GO Majors every year, and the first of 2023 is set to take place in Paris for the first time. The $1.25 million prize pool is the largest for any CS:GO tournament that has been announced for 2023 so far. France’s Team Vitality will have the crowd behind them and should be a contender after winning the second ESL Pro League of 2022. We’ll have a better sense of all the contenders after IEM Katowice, with teams like FaZe Clan, Natus Vincere, Heroic, Outsiders, G2 Esports and Team Liquid all likely to be in the mix amid the 24-team field. Qualifiers are set to begin in April.

CDL Major 5

Call of Duty

Toronto, Canada

May 25-28

The Toronto Ultra previously hosted a Call of Duty League Major in June 2022. Canada’s only CDL team has a vibrant fan base, and the team has been one of the stronger ones in the league over the past couple years.

IEM Dallas

CS:GO

Dallas, United States

May 29 - June 4

There are a handful of IEM events throughout the year, but most of them are usually held in Europe. IEM Dallas is the only one currently scheduled to take place in North America. Last year, Cloud9 won the event.

ALGS Split 2 Playoffs

Apex Legends

London, England

June 8-11

London is getting a lot of love this year when it comes to major esports events. Like the ALGS Split 2 Playoffs, the Split 2 Playoffs will be held in London too. This tournament will come on the heels of League of Legends MSI also being held in the British capital. The qualifiers for this tournament will be the top teams during Split 2 of the ALGS season.

VALORANT Masters 2023

VALORANT

Tokyo, Japan

June TBD

Photo credit: Riot Games

The VALORANT Champions Tour’s one and only Masters tournament this year is heading to Tokyo. It’ll be the first time Japan will host an international VCT event. The tournament will follow the conclusion of the 2023 seasons in the VCT America, EMEA and Pacific regions. The top three teams from each league will qualify plus an additional team from whichever region wins the LOCK//IN tournament.

RLCS Spring Major

Rocket League

Location TBD

July 6-9

With the Winter Major being held in North America, it’s likely Psyonix goes back to Europe for the Spring Major. Last year, Psyonix alternated between Europe and North America for the RLCS Majors and World Championship. However, the company could obviously mix things up this year and maybe hold back-to-back tournaments in North America or even go to Brazil or some other region for a Major. The dates are set, but the location and contenders for this Major both remain to be determined.

IEM Cologne

CS:GO

Cologne, Germany

July 25 - Aug. 6

Next to the Majors and IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne is one of the most prestigious CS:GO tournaments of the year. It’s affectionately known as the “Cathedral of CS:GO.” The IEM Katowice and Paris Major winners automatically qualify for this tournament, and the top teams in the ESL World Rankings also will get invites to this 24-team, $1 million tournament.

RLCS World Championship

Rocket League

Location TBD

Aug. 4-13

The 2022 RLCS World Championship was held in North America, so it’s likely Psyonix would go to Europe for this year’s edition. The defending world champs are Europe’s Team BDS.

League of Legends World Championship

League of Legends

South Korea

Likely October-November TBD

Photo credit: Riot Games

The League of Legends World Championship, also just known as Worlds, is one of the largest and most popular annual esports tournaments in the world. Last year’s Worlds final filled the Chase Center in San Francisco and set a new League of Legends peak viewership record on Twitch. Riot Games announced a revamped format for this year’s 22-team tournament, with a double-elimination play-in stage and a Swiss style format for the main stage of the tournament rather than the traditional group stage.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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