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League – A league in esports is a championship series that unfolds over several weeks, featuring a sequence of matches in one or more specific video games. The competition is structured to be played in small increments, with participants engaging in routine matchups against each other. The goal is to accumulate points or establish a win/loss ratio throughout the league. As the league progresses, participants continue to amass points or improve their win/loss ratio until all potential matchups are exhausted or as determined by the organizer. The culmination of a league often sees a transition into a single-elimination or double-elimination format for the final showdown.

League and spectators

Esports leagues play a crucial role in commercializing competitive gaming, making it accessible to a broader audience. For those who prefer watching rather than playing, the competitive nature of leagues adds an extra layer of excitement, drawing in spectators from around the globe. In major leagues, game developers take a hands-on approach, offering unique digital or physical items and merchandise to both viewers and participating athletes. An example of these incentives is the distribution of free cosmetic items to viewers during Dota 2 matches.

Divisions in a league

To ensure fair competition and skill-based matchups, leagues often incorporate divisions. Divisions are categorized based on a tier list derived from accumulated points or win/loss ratios. Participants within a division can only compete against others in the same tier. The performance of players during the league can lead to promotions or demotions between divisions. A prime example of a league with divisions is The Dota 2 Pro Circuit, where global regions are further subdivided into Division I and Division II, with Division I considered a higher-tier rank boasting a higher level of skill.[1] Division I is considered a higher tier rank with higher level skill than Division II.[2] However, the teams in Division I can lose their way into Division II, and teams in Division II can win their way to the higher Division.[3]

Difference between league and tournament

A fundamental difference between leagues and tournaments lies in the duration of the event and the way competitors progress. Leagues typically span several weeks, allowing for a more extended period of competition. Tournaments, on the other hand, are condensed into a few days with a more intense format. Another key difference is how winners are determined. Leagues are based on the total accumulation of points or wins throughout the season. Teams or players compete in regular matchups, and their performance throughout the league determines their final ranking. In contrast, tournaments often utilize a single-elimination or double-elimination format. In a single-elimination format, a single loss eliminates a team or player from the competition. Double-elimination offers a second chance, where a team or player loses once but can fight their way back through a separate bracket. This format ensures a more dramatic and suspenseful conclusion within the shorter timeframe of a tournament.

Another main difference between the two is that results from a league are recognized by the original game publisher, which also acts as the authorized organizer. In a country that recognizes esports as a competitive sport like Indonesia, leagues are official matches recognized by both the state and game publisher. Due to its recognition by the state, the said leagues are state-owned and can only be organized with the permission of the esports parent organization. Additionally, the terminology used in leagues and tournaments differs; divisions in tournaments are referred to as “pools” or “groups” instead of “divisions.”


List of Esports leagues

The esports landscape is teeming with a multitude of leagues spanning various games, each offering distinctive experiences and captivating storylines. Some standout examples include:

  • The Dota Pro Circuit – Dota 2
  • League of Legends Championship Series – League of Legends
  • ESL Pro League – Counter Strike: Global Offensive
  • Overwatch League – Overwatch
  • Mobile Legends Professional League – Mobile Legends: Bang-Bang

[1] ‘The Dota Pro Circuit; A Global Esports Competition’ <> accessed on 29 January 2024

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.


  • Yudistira Adipratama

    Yudistira Adipratama is the Managing Partner of K-CASE Lawyer, the first esports dedicated law firm in Indonesia. K-CASE Lawyer has worked with and provided legal consultation to various esports stakeholders in Indonesia, including game publishers, esports clubs, event organizers, streamers, game associations, government, and universities. Yudistira holds a key position in the policy-making process of the esports parent organization in Indonesia. He was involved in the drafting of Law No. 11 of 2022 on Sports, which recognizes esports as a competitive sport for the first time in Indonesian history. Yudistira is also the drafter of PBESI Regulation No. 034/PB-ESI/B/VI/2021 on the Implementation of Esports Activities in Indonesia, a policy that regulates the implementation of the esports industry ecosystem in Indonesia. His expertise in law and the esports industry also led him to be involved in the drafting of Presidential Regulation No. 19 of 2024 on the Acceleration of the Development of the National Game Industry. In addition to esports, Yudistira also has a deep understanding of sports law and actively serves as a speaker representing Indonesia at various high-level international conferences attended by representatives of the International Olympic Committee. Under his leadership, K-CASE Lawyer has supported Indonesia’s participation in various international multi-sports events, such as the 19th Asian Games in 2022, the 2023 SEA Games, and the 14th IESF World Esports Championships.

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