Katowice esport
 · 4 min read · September 29, 2021

Katowice: A City in Poland Became the World Esports Capital [Case Study]

Juliusz Kornaszewski

Ever since the Intel Extreme Masters chose to come to Poland, it has been openly said that the city of Katowice became an important point on the map of global electronic sports. Today, millions of fans from around the world look favorably at the capital of Silesia. However, the city has been associated with hard coal mining and heavy industry for decades, which has a negative effect on keeping young people in the region. How did esports change the marketing of Katowice?

The beginnings

Year 2010. It’s when the city’s authorities agreed that the development of Katowice should be based on technological creativity. The focus was put, among other things, on esports. Given the “boom” for electronic sports today, this decision did not come as a surprise. But we must remember that ten years ago, when Katowice decided to support IEM, esports was not such a recognizable industry.

Together with the world’s biggest organizer of esports tournaments—ESL and the Intel brand—Katowice brought the Intel Extreme Masters event to Poland. In the first year (2013), Katowice were just one of the stops of IEM matches, but a year later, the world finals event was moved from Germany to Poland. It’s like we were the hosts of the World Cup in Poland every year. Katowice’s decision to support the event is unprecedented. It was the first esports tournament organized at such scale, which was supposed to function as an independent event. All previous events used the natural traffic and the viewers who were visiting large trade fair events—CeBit, Gamescom, etc.—so it was a risky experiment, the outcome of which was difficult to predict.

Key observations which decided the course of actions:

The city is perfectly connected and easily accessible to fans from abroadThe Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin (the Silesian Metropolis), which is an association of 41 municipalities in the region, has a total population of over 2.3 million people.

Esports in Katowice in figures:

  • An audience of 40 million people around the world only in 2018. Katowice appeared on screens of viewers from all over the world. Communication took place via 19 digital platforms in 10 languages.
  • 9.3 million interactions related to IEM Katowice only in 2018. IEM Katowice has become a real center of the esports world.
  • Over the last five years, IEM Katowice has been mentioned over 30 thousand times (in the Polish media only).
  • The value of Katowice’s communication activities related to IEM event reached several million dollars.
  • The number of people visiting IEM increased from 50 thousand in 2013 to over 170 thousand in 2018.
  • A single participant of the conference who gets accommodated in Katowice spends almost PLN 628 on average (people without accommodation spend PLN 141).
  • The number of guests visiting the conference and the fairs increased from 512 to 826 thousand in 2013–2017. In 2017 alone, Intel Extreme Masters hosted 173 thousand guests.

EM in Katowice contributes to the development of Polish companies supporting the esports ecosystem. ESL has increased employment to nearly 100 in five years.


The image change of Katowice has been appreciated by the PR industry. The campaign “IEM Katowice 2017. The biggest esports event in history” was awarded a Golden Clip statuette in the Commercial Event category (golden statuettes went to Mindspot, Turtle Entertainment Poland (ESL)). The project won gold also for “The business side of esports”. In 2018, Mindspot and the city of Katowice were also awarded (this time with bronze) in this competition. The project “Katowice set on esports. The city won in terms of money and image” won the bronze award.

Case study comes from our e-book "Marketing and Brand Communication Strategies in Esports". Do you want to know what esports is and how important it is in the entertainment business? Nothing easier!

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