A Potted History of the European Gaming League
The European Gaming League (EGL) formed in 2010, operating then under the name European Console League. The first EGL event was ECL1 Liverpool, held at the prestigious Echo Arena and brought new levels of glamour to the European console scene. Over the weekend £25,000 worth of prizes were given away as Liverpool played host to some of the biggest names in international console gaming.
The first ever EGL winners were also crowned, with Power Gaming winning the first and only Halo 3 tournament, Fnatic winning the Call of Duty 4 final, Imperial rolling the competition in Gears of War, AdamW taking the FIFA title and Ryan Hart being crowned the Street Fighter 4 champion.
EGL didn’t move very far for the second event, and after a wait of almost a year, the EGL was back for ECL2 Blackpool, but not before a smaller taste of event action with the first ever EGL Pro Series. The Pro Series brought together the top teams from the UK for Call of Duty: Black Ops and Halo: Reach, in an invite only tournament with a £1,000 prize pot for each of the winning teams. This weekend was a weekend to remember for British organisation Power Gaming whose teams won both finals, putting them in good stead for the main event the following weekend.
As ECL2 Blackpool rolled around, this time the largest tournament was that of Call of Duty: Black Ops; a recurring theme as more events took place. The Halo: Reach final was once again contested between the two power houses of Europe, Power Gaming and Fnatic in a rematch of the Pro Series final. This weekend however saw a shift in power, and Fnatic stormed to victory in a memorable final that eventually lead to the demise of the then Power Gaming line up. In Gears of War we saw Afterlife face up against the ECL1 champions, Imperial. Again a new champion was crowned and Afterlife deservedly took the title from Imperial. Their first of many. The FIFA tournament saw two new finalists, as an Englishman took on a Scottish opponent in a final that saw Ty Walton announce his arrival on the FIFA scene.
ECL2 was special for fans of the Playstation 3, as the event played host to the first European Playstation 3 LAN event for Call of Duty: Black Ops. A humble turn out saw the Playstation community come together for the first time at a large scale live tournament, and the eventual winners were Royalty Gaming, having come out first among a very strong field. The tournament creating the most noise in Blackpool was the Black Ops tournament. The tournament produced an extremely memorable final, with two teams representing rival nations, Royalty of Britain and MythiX of France. On home soil, the British based Royalty team were outdone by their French opponents and it was in fact MythiX who took the first Black Ops title home with them to mainland Europe.
EGL moved south for the third tournament, with ECL3 Loughborough being held in the Loughborough University sports hall. Street Fighter returned to the roster of tournaments, and with reigning champion Ryan Hart unable to be attend, a spot was open for a new champion. That spot was eventually filled by Femi ‘F Word’ Adeboye. The FIFA tournament had an extremely dramatic ending to proceedings with underdog Stokes coming from the loser bracket to beat the strong favourite Ty, in a final that saw Stokes win four straight games to bag the title. ECL3 saw the first inclusion of a PC tournament, with Blizzard’s popular RTS, Starcraft II joining the circuit. Many of the UK’s top players attended the inaugural PC tournament, and the eventual winner was Lau of Team Infused, beating a number of tournament favourites on the way to the title.
In the team games, the Halo: Reach final was contested by the resilient LiNK Gaming, and the new dominant force in European Halo, Team Dignitas. Despite not having the strongest team on paper, LiNK Gaming put up a great fight in an extremely close final, but eventually felt short of the highly disciplined, highly organised Team Dignitas. In the Playstation 3 tournament, Dan Baker and his team bagged their second event in a row, with Whole ‘Nutha Level living up to their name and taking home the crown. Meanwhile the last ever Gears of War European tournament was taking place, and once again Afterlife were on hand to snatch the first place prize and win back to back tournaments. Finally, the Call of Duty: Black Ops tournament came to a close with Fnatic seeing out opponents, Flame Retardant, as Goliath defeated David.
After the rebrand to EGL, the next stop for the European Gaming League was the Emirates Stadium in London – home of Arsenal F.C. Once again we saw a huge turn out for Call of Duty: Black Ops, with 57 teams attending from all over Europe. The event featured a Microsoft supported Gears of War 3 tournament, the first time the title had been introduced to the EGL circuit. Despite the change in title, a slightly reshapped Afterlife team, this time competing under the name apeX.Afterlife, once again lifted the title, beating opponents Imperial in a somewhat one sided final. The Playstation 3 tournament ended in controversy after the tournament overran and eventually was settled with 4 Finger Claw coming out on top over an apeX side who had looked extremely comfortable during the event. The Halo: Reach final was set to be another one sided affair, but a new Team Infused side were on hand to offer a close game to the former Team Dignitas team, now apeX, who had to up their game to take first place and win back to back Halo: Reach titles.
A total of 57 teams competed in the Call of Duty: Black Ops tournament on the Xbox 360, and the final was eventually contested between the Dutchmen of Fariko and the British quartet of Fnatic. Despite being heavily criticised before the event, Fnatic had shone all weekend, and continued this form into the final which they bagged in emphatic fashion. Deserving winners. The FIFA final was another European affair, as Ty looked to learn from the mistakes of EGL4, and having fought his way back from early defeat, he managed to beat German opponent Daniel Tissarek in an exciting final showdown. At EGL4 the fighting community were out in full force, and Street Fighter 4 was also joined by tournaments for Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Street Fighter III: Online Edition. Ryan Hart came back to try to reclaim his thrown, having made his mark way back at ECL1. Having stormed the winner bracket though, he met his demise at the hands of Louffy and had to settle for second place. Ryan Hart did however bag himself a tournament win, taking home the first place finish from Street Fighter III, beating Raju in a 3-2 final. Mortal Kombat was a throwback to an retro age of fighting games, and former Halo player, A F0XY GRAMPA stepped up to take a surprising first place finish in the Mortal Kombat contest. Finally, the new boy Marvel vs Capcom 3 saw 24 players battle it out for a title that was captured by a new face. Don D bagged first place in the fighting mash up. With SCII returning, a bigger field took to EGL for a shot at the title. This time around it was the turn of top British player and former Halo player, Bling, who beat Orly in the final to take the tournament.
EGL5 saw a six month gap between events, and of course, a return to Blackpool – the unofficial home of EGL. With Gears of War 3 and Halo: Reach returning for 2012, Call of Duty: Black Ops was dropped in favour of the latest title in the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3; played on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The Xbox 360 Modern Warfare 3 attracted a whopping 113 teams, and was the largest ever Call of Duty live tournament internationally. All the tournaments attracted huge international interest with teams from all over the world attending to compete. The Playstation 3 Modern Warfare 3 tournament saw Dan Baker return to the final, with his new team, RoughNeX. Their opponents this time were Nova, who unfortunately were not up to the task, and Dan won his third title in three events.
The Gears of War 3 final again was Imperial v apeX.Afterlife. This time around Imperial had had a fairly weak start to competition life, but had shrugged off the cobwebs and worked hard to earn their place in the final. An extremely valiant effort fired up the crowd and some great individual plays gave Imperial a shot at the title, but the sheer dominance of Afterlife took over and once again Imperial came out second best. The Halo: Reach tournament attracted one of the best known Halo teams from the States to attend, Str8 Rippin. Lead by Tsquared – a man who had featured as part of a national marketing campaign in the United States that saw his faces on over a million Dr Pepper bottles – the team combined veterans and new blood in a line up that had been struggling to recapture their old glory days on home turf, rolled back the years and stormed their way to the final against the European top dogs, apeX. This time around, apeX were not up to the task and the Americans took the title off the two time champions in an epic international encounter. The Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 final was also very similar, with the best of the United States taking on the best of Europe. Western Wolves earned their rightful place in the final, with Tobi and Mak being finalists for the third consecutive event. This time around though, apeX.Optic were simply a different class, and the Europeans were treated to a master class of how to play Call of Duty.