The newly formed Baltic Esports League (BEL) was created as part of a European system of national and regional leagues, kicking off its first season in 2018. The partnership between Challengermode, the automated tournament platform and digital home for competitive gamers and GameOn – Game Culture Con brought a new structure to Baltic esports and implemented a long-term league solution with stable prize pools and paths to European competitions. The league started with three esports titles: League of Legends, CS:GO and PUBG.
With the direct connection to Riot Games’ European Masters tournament, BEL League of Legends Season 1 started ahead of its counterparts in other disciplines in summer 2018. 12 teams participated in the first ever open Baltic Esports League for a prize pool of 5000 € and a seed to the Masters in Katowice, Poland. Finals were held at Bosca Amphitheater, which was filled to the brim and saw Escort P9 from Latvia battle Lithuanians Turing eSports for the crown of first ever BEL champions. In a thrilling best-of-five series that went to the final deciding game, Turing eSports clinched the win and punched the ticket to Poland.
Later in September, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive season one started its online qualifiers as preparation for the final best-of-five on the big stage at GameOn in November. Over thirty teams signed up to the initial qualifiers and battled each other for an overall prize pool of 3.750 €. The final eight teams consisted of four invited Baltic staples: WOLSUNG and MightyWolves from Latvia and Lithuanian 1337HUANIA and SUPAH joined by four teams emerging from the qualifier stage: dai$uki and kiber sportsmen representing Lithuania as well as the Estonian crews of onlineMANS and Flunk’s party. Clear winner of BEL season 1 was WOLSUNG with a clean 3-0 sweep in front of the hyped GameOn esports crowd.
Rounding out BEL season 1 was Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds in December 2018 with a field of 30 teams trying to stay within the blue zone, advancing to the final 16 teams, reaching the safe zone and securing the first ever BEL PUBG championship. The overall very competitive field saw a group of true Baltic top three teams rising above the rest with Lithuanian Alytaus Alus in 3rd, team 4 RANDOM LATVIANS locking down 2nd with a few points above and the clear winner Bait Academy from Estonia.