Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into ESI’s international esports business events, which take place around the world.
The central European country of Poland may not be the first country you’d think of as an esports heavyweight, yet it certainly is one. One of the pioneers of large-scale tournaments and devotion to esports, Poland has forged itself into one of the most high-potential markets for esports in Europe, and possibly worldwide.
Poland is perhaps best known for its flagship esports event: IEM Katowice. The tournament — one of the staples of competitive Counter-Strike — takes place in Katowice, a city otherwise known for its mining industry that was famous in bygone days. Esports brought something of a renaissance to the city, growing its tech industry and prompting the city council to work on gaming and esports-focused initiatives. The city has launched a marketing campaign called ‘Katowice for a change’ which bears a strong gaming influence.
The country is also home to some of the most influential CS:GO and Dota 2 players, including Jarosław ‘pasha’ Jarząbkowski and Michał ‘Nisha’ Jankowski. In the top-flight League of Legends tournament in Europe, the LEC, there are four players from Poland, including arguably the most famous Polish League of Legends player ever, Marcin ‘Jankos’ Jankowski, who played for Team Heretics at the time of writing.
Poland has its own top-flight League of Legends league, called the Ultraliga. The competition is a part of the wider EU Masters circuit and has four slots in the tournament. Poland-based team AGO ROGUE, the academy team of Rogue Esports, won the EU Masters in 2020.
When it comes to teams, Poland has had a lot of success in the past, mostly in CS:GO. Arguably the biggest Polish organisations currently are AGO Esports and Illuminar Gaming. The football club Wisla Krakow used to run an esports arm, but closed its operations on July 15th. Additionally, Team Kinguin, one of the most famous esports organisations in Poland, no longer fields competitive rosters but has previously fielded highly successful CS:GO teams. The most successful Polish roster of all time was the so-called ‘Golden Five’, a Polish CS:GO lineup that played for Virtus.Pro and dominated the scene for years. The roster won the ESL One Katowice Major in 2014. Although a Swedish organisation, 9INE has fielded a Polish CS:GO roster, helping the organisation’s popularity soar in late 2022 and throughout 2023.
Poland is also home to an impressive number of esports-related companies. One of the most notable is Kinguin, which owns two high-class performance centres (Esports Performance Center and Kinguin Esports Lounge), which allow esports teams and organisations to bootcamp, host gatherings, and do team building. Another well-known Polish name is Frenzy, a production company that is known for local broadcasts of large esports events, as well as for producing local events in Poland. InSTREAMLY, a streamer management platform, is also from Poland, and so is Challenger Project, one of the finalists for ESI’s 2022 edition of The Clutch.
Poland has a strong relationship with gaming in general. The Polish Government added This War of Mine, a video game, to the curriculum in schools, and Polish developer CD Projekt Red is behind the Witcher and Cyberpunk games, some of the most popular video game series.
In 2023, Poland hosted the European Games Esports Championships, a tournament taking place at the same time as the European Games. The Championships were organised by the Global Esports Federation and the European Olympic Committees and featured eFootball and Rocket League competitions.
The Polish Government recognises esports as a sport. The Polish Act on Sport was updated in 2017 to declare that “any form of competition based on intellectual activity, which aims to achieve a sports result” should be treated as a sport.
The Polish Esports Association has officially joined the Polish Olympic Committee in 2023.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
Poland is home to IEM Katowice, one of the most important and coveted esports tournaments in Europe’s calendar. The tournament is also one of the longest-lasting CS:GO tournaments in Europe, with the first edition taking place in 2013.
|ESL Mistrzostwa Polski
|Polska Liga Esportowa
|Red Bull Solo Q Poland
|King of Poland
|European Games Esports Championships
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
National Association(s) / Federation(s)
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
Esport Poland organises esports tournaments for children and teenagers in Poland. Moreover, Kinguin and esports organisation Devils.one partnered with the Halina Konopacka University of Physical Culture and Tourism in Pruszków to launch Poland’s first Bachelor’s Degree programme in Esports.
Well-known Polish Counter-Strike player, Jarosław ‘Pashabiceps’ Jarząbkowski, owns and runs a training camp for kids called the Pascha Gaming Camp, which focuses on both physical health and gaming skills.
This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected]. Article first published: October 7th 2022. Article last updated on: September 15th 2023.