Although the first esports tournaments only offered modest prize winnings, more recent events have seen victorious teams and players pocket some incredible earnings. With dozens of esports tournaments now offering prize pools totaling many millions of dollars, professional-level play has never been more lucrative. The explosion in popularity of esports and increased attention from sponsors and advertisers has helped bolster prize pools. Game developers have also utilized crowdfunding to increase prize pools, with in-game purchases bringing in huge revenues that can be redirected toward tournament prizes. Below, we explore some of the most lucrative esports competitions around.
With a prize pool of more than 34 million dollars, The International is one of the most lucrative esports competitions in the world. This Dota 2 championship has remained one of the most profitable tournaments for almost a decade. Back in the early days, The International offered prize funds of approximately 1.5 millions. This has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks in large part to the crowdfunded backing that bolsters this competition. Admittedly, this tournament is reserved for the big hitters in the esports sector. However, in recent years, additional teams have been invited to participate.
Fortnite World Cup Finals
The Fortnite World Cup Finals have been a staple of the esports sector for several years now. Organized by Epic Games, these finals are not just some of the most viewed in the world, they are also among the most profitable for esports players. The first Fortnite World Cup Finals were split into two separate finals, with both the solo and duo finals pocketing the winners 3 million dollars apiece.
League of Legends World Championship
The League of Legends World Championship prize pool has been growing steadily in recent years. This is thanks to Riot Games introducing more in-game purchases to attract new revenue. By 2018, the prize pool of this championship had increased to a cool 6.4 million US dollars. That same year, Chinese team Invictus Gaming took home the biggest share of the prize pool, earning 2.4 million dollars after trouncing rival team Fnatic in the grand finals.
Call of Duty League Championship
The Call of Duty League 2020 Finals debuted in a difficult year. Thanks to restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural Call of Duty League was limited to online sessions only. Despite this, competitors could look forward to one of the most substantial prize pools in esports history. Dallas Empire beat out Atlanta FaZe in the final rounds to take home at an impressive 1.5 million dollars. With an overall prize pool of 4.6 million, this was one of the most lucrative esports events in recent memory.
Honor of Kings World Champion Cup
Honor of Kings has long been popular with the Chinese esports market. In 2020, the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup was hosted in Beijing and Shanghai to considerable success. A dozen of the very best teams were invited to participate, with Turnso Gaming ending up the victors after defeating Dynamite Gaming in the final rounds. The overall prize pool at this championship stood at 4.5 million dollars.
Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series – Club Standings
Fortnite tournaments offer esports professionals some of the biggest prize tickets out there. This increasingly popular battle arena game is played at several major tournaments on an annual basis, with Epic Games throwing more than 100 million dollars into prize pools. A good deal of that funding has been directed toward the Fall Skirmish Series – Club Standings tournaments, with around 4 million dollars for the taking in any given year.
Dota 2 Valve Majors
Although The International offers the biggest prizes for Dota 2 players, this is by no means the only event boasting significant winnings. The Dota 2 Valve Majors is another lucrative prospect for professional teams, with around 3 million dollars per event ripe for the taking. Certain teams have dominated this event, with OG having taken home the top prize no less than four times.
Overwatch League Grand Finals
The Overwatch League playoffs have been a staple of the esports circuit since 2018, but it was the Overwatch League 2020 tournament that really established it as a major event. Held in South Korea, the 2020 event saw San Francisco Shock beat out the competition to take home a sizable slice of the 3 million dollar prize pool.
With esports audiences growing every year, big ticket prizes are only going to become more commonplace. What’s more, as millions more casual users become engaged with esports titles, developers can turn to crowdfunding from in-game purchases to bring in even more revenues to boost prize pools. Although hurdles like the COVID-19 pandemic have caused some disruption to the esports industry, you only need to glance at platforms like 1337PRO to see that the events schedule is more active than ever. With more audience engagement and increasing revenues, prize pools are only going to grow. In just a few years, don’t be surprised to find single tournaments offering combined pools of upwards of 50 million dollars annually.