Facebook challenges Twitch with exclusive esports streaming deal

ESL One Genting

Facebook has announced a new exclusive streaming deal with ESL (opens in new tab) – one of the world's biggest esports leagues.

As ESL's main broadcast partner, Facebook will stream Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive competitions from ESL One (opens in new tab), as well as its dedicated CS:GO Pro League. (opens in new tab)

The streaming action starts right now with ESL One Genting 2018 (opens in new tab). The tournament runs from January 23-28, with Dota 2 players competing for a US$400,000 prize pool.

“For years ESL has used Facebook to nurture its global community while broadening the audience for esports competition to millions of fans worldwide,” said Leo Olebe (opens in new tab), global director of Facebook Games Partnerships at ESL.

“Having two of ESL’s most adored properties for CS:GO and Dota 2 streaming exclusively on Facebook is the next step in our efforts to delight the passionate esports community on Facebook."

Streaming in VR

The Facebook deal also introduces the possibility of virtual reality streaming for ESL's tournaments – a move that could give it an edge over the two biggest names in esports streaming: Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

"The ability to now watch esports in 1080p and in VR underscores our commitment to adding more ways for fans to watch and connect with each other around the esports content they love most," said Olebe.

In March, Facebook Live made the jump from mobile devices to the desktop, letting users stream video directly from PCs and laptops. It was a natural move towards game streaming, but until now it's been an exclusively amateur affair.

The ESL deal makes Facebook a serious contender for the attention of esports fans, and it'll be interesting to see if other professional leagues follow suit.

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)