It is no secret that Esports is huge in terms of revenue and prize pools. And it’s getting bigger by the year. Despite this year’s pandemic, 2020 is no different. As it turned out, it even had a positive impact on Esports viewership since everything had to be shifted online, leaving everyone on Twitch and Youtube. Since 1997 when Dennis “Thresh” Fong won a red Ferrari as the first Esports prize ever, a lot has changed. Today, the leader in tournament money is Dota 2, specifically, TI10 (The International) tournament, holding the Esports prize money record, and it’s on its way to outdo itself once again.
Dota 2 TI10 Tournament: Making Esports History
When it comes to competitive gaming, there is no bigger game than Dota 2, with TI9 holding the current Esports prize record. In fact, Valve has been setting records in prize pools for 9 years straight.
At this second, TI10 stands at a $30M+ mark what means it has officially reached second place in Esports tournament earnings history. Since there is some more time left before the TI10 Battle Pass expires, it will likely go to surpass the last years’ record. To enumerate, at the same point last year, this number was at about $26.4 million, while this time it reached $30M in just two months period.
How does the prize pool even work? Well, the smaller part ($1.6 million) comes from the ground prize pool provided by Valve. The other part comes directly from players’ pockets, also known as crowdfunding. That means that when a player purchases the newest Dota 2 Battle Pass, 25% goes straight to The International 10 prize pool.
There is even an official prize pool tracker that is growing by the second. Since the end date for Battle Pass was postponed for September 19th, there are about 6 weeks left for the record to be broken, so make sure to stay tuned for history in the making!
Top 5 Esports Tournaments Ever by Prize Pool
Now, let’s take a look at what top 5 Esports tournaments have made history so far.
1. DOTA 2 – The International 9
As we already mentioned, the current record holder with a $34.3 million digit comes from an event series that has been steadily growing since its inception in 2013 and it doesn’t seem like it’s about to stop anytime soon.
What makes qualifying and participating in this tournament possible is competing in the Dota Pro Circuit.
2. Fortnite – 2019 World Finals
The first Fortnite World Cup ever has proven how big the game currently is with its $30 million prize pool total. It was split into two events: one for solo players and the other one for two-player teams. The winner of the solo event went home with a $3 million prize.
3. League of Legends – World Championship 2018
What makes this tournament special is that it was the most popular Esports tournament ever in terms of viewership. It was also the third biggest League of Legends event by prize pool with a total of $6.4 million.
This was only the second year Riot had allowed the fans to contribute to the prize pool, following the Dota 2 example. In this case, that was possible through purchasing in-game items, that led to fans collecting over $4.2 million, while the rest was ensured by Riot.
4. PUBG – Global Championship 2019
This event that gathered 32 teams from different competitive regions who previously participated in regional leagues and PUBG pro circuits had a $4 million prize pool. Moreover, half of this prize went home with the winner, with Gen. G winning over $2 million.
5. Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series
Another Fortnite event besides Battle Royale that made this list reached its peak in the past year. The clubs standings mark reached $4 million during the first year this event series took place.
What Is the Biggest Esports Game?
All of this brings up the question of what is the biggest Esports game and the answer is there is no definitive one. Even though numbers don’t lie, the prize money isn’t the only criteria for this. Some other important factors when we’re talking about popularity are viewership as well as the player pool. For example, when it comes to total prize money in each of the games, the top 3 looks like this:
- Fortnite ($64,338,000)
- Dota ($46,150,000)
- CS:GO ($17,578,000)
As can be seen in Fortnites’ example, the current rise in popularity does a lot for prize pools, since everyone wants to sponsor and take part in that kind of event. On the other hand, Dota 2 is the record holder for every event’s prize during the previous year. And when it comes to an absolute winner in terms of viewership, that would be League of Legends with more than 3.9 million people watching the 2019 Worlds.
Where does that leave us? Well, let’s just wait for the new TI10 record and see how it further affects the future of Esports earnings and Esports in general.