The Best Esports Teams and Leagues You’ve Never Heard of

Whatever esports you’re into, there’s a game to watch – and a team to follow.

But the best esports teams and leagues aren’t just the ones with the biggest followings.

You’ll be familiar with famous names like FaZe Clan and Team Liquid, and events like The International, but other squads and tournaments are racing to the top too.

If you’re looking for something different, here’s our pick of the best breakthrough crews and contests to check out.

Best Esports teams to follow

Many teams try to hit the big time in their games of choice. Here are a few of the best esports teams you may not have heard of.

Minnesota Røkkr (USA)

Despite being relatively new to the scene, Minnesota Røkkr are fast becoming one of Call of Duty’s most exciting prospects.

  • The team’s owners also oversee NFL side Minnesota Vikings.
  • Their Old Norse name translates as ‘twilight’ and has links to the legend of Ragnarök.
  • Joint owner Gary Vaynerchuk has already bantered the team’s way into a ‘rivalry of the North’ with neighbouring side Toronto Ultra.
  • Follow them at their official site or Twitter and watch clips on YouTube.

Ence (Finland)

The Finnish side has made a huge impact in Counter-Strike competitions recently. Fans have started flocking to appreciate the side’s ‘underdog’ spirit.

  • Ence placed second in Counter-Strike at Katowice 2019 and Extreme Masters XIV.
  • The PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds team won Europe League 2019: Phase 1 – their very first competition in ENCE colours.
  • Follow them at their official site or on Twitter and watch clips on YouTube.

Shanghai Dragons (China)

This Chinese Overwatch  team went from zeros to heroes in just two years. In fact, their transformation has been completely remarkable.

  • The team lost every game of the first Overwatch League season on their way to a dismal record of 42 consecutive defeats.
  • This streak lasted for 13 months from January 2018 to February 2019.
  • However, after they defeated Boston Uprising, things have gone from strength to strength – with the Dragons becoming Stage 3 champions in 2019.
  • They also added the Asian Countdown Cup to their trophy cabinet in August 2020.
  • Follow them on Twitter and watch clips on YouTube.

OG (Europe)

From Open Qualifiers to two-time champions at The International – OG’s rise to the top of Dota 2 is unprecedented.

  • The European side entered an Open Qualifier along with more than 500 teams. They claimed one of just two spots available at The International.
  • Having defied the odds to clinch a place, OG went on to win The International 8. They’re the only side to win it from the Open Qualifiers stage.
  • The team then successfully defended their title at The International 9. This made them the only team to win it back-to-back.
  • Follow them at the official site or Twitter and watch clips on YouTube.

MAD Lions

This Spanish team fields squads in Leagues of Legends and Counter-Strike. Their fiery passion shines through every time they take to the stage.

MAD Lions won bronze at the League of Legends European Championship Spring 2020.

  • Coach James ‘Mac’ MacCormack won LEC Coach of the Split Award for Spring 2020.
  • A gutsy 2-1 win over MIBR saw the MAD Lions Counter-Strike team take first place at Flashpoint Season One.
  • Follow them at the official site or Twitter and watch League of Legends clips on YouTube.

Best Esports Leagues and Tournaments to Follow

Discover your new favourite game or contest. Here’s our guide to the best esports leagues and tournaments to check out.

Quake Pro League

Celebrating more than 20 years of the hit first-person shooter franchise, this competitive season of Quake Championscrowns a winner at the annual QuakeCon event.

  • Qualifiers from North America and Europe enter the final tournament.
  • The 2020 Finals were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • ‘Rapha’ raised the 2020 trophy – he’s one of the game’s best ever.
  • You can follow the action here for news and updates.

ESL Pro League

The top tier of Counter-Strike competition is never anything less than compelling. It has produced some truly memorable moments in recent years.

  • Initially split into Europe and North America regions.
  • Now five regions battle it out for supremacy.
  • A prize pool of $1 million awaits the finalists each year.
  • Follow the action here.

Rocket League Championship Series

Rocket League is a fast-and-furious mash-up of football, motor racing and demolition derby.

It really is a feast for the senses.

  • The game’s creators Psyonix launched this tournament in 2016.
  • Teams from four regions compete for spots in the Majors.
  • The tenth season, known as RLCS X, will feature three Majors.
  • Previous champions include Dignitas and Cloud9.
  • Follow all the Rocket League action here.

Mythic Dungeon International

This intriguing Player vs Event (PvE) contest pits teams against the game of World of Warcraft itself. The timed element adds some fascinating competition between players.

  • Players race to complete objectives inside a dungeon.
  • The fastest teams qualify for the broadcast finals.
  • A prize pool of hundreds of thousands of dollars is shared between qualifiers from Europe & Asia, and The Americas.
  • It’s one of only a handful of Player vs Event esports, which makes it all the more competitive.
  • Follow all the action here.

SMITE Pro League

Similar in style to League of Legends and Dota 2, SMITE sees players take on the form of mythological figures in team-based battles.

  • The 2020 SMITE Pro League formed the seventh year of competition.
  • Pittsburgh Knights signed several names from last year’s champions SK Gaming.
  • Playable characters include Cthulhu, King Arthur and Hercules.
  • Catch the latest news on Twitter and the official website.

OlimoLeague

This StarCraft II tournament is a great way to start watching the popular esport. No league format means no messing about. It really is a case of ‘straight to the action’.

  • 16 players take part each week in a straight knockout tournament.
  • No long-running league format means the gloves are off from the get-go.
  • Cash prizes are raised through crowdfunding.
  • StarCraft II is huge in South Korea, and this is a great way to see it played at a rapid pace.
  • Follow the action on the official site, or on Twitter.