Today, esports prize pools are reaching some staggering sums as a result of the many sponsorships and the extreme rise of viewership. If you are a gamer or simply love watching or betting on eSports, then you should definitely check out the following article, as it will give you a clear view on the biggest eSports prizes and tournaments in the history. We will list the largest eSports rewards, along with some intriguing details about the competitions, their rules and participants.
Largest Prize Pools in eSports
- League of Legends World Championship 2017 – $4.9 Million
- League of Legends World Championship 2016 – $5.0 Million
- League of Legends World Championship 2018 – $6.4 Million
- The International 2014 – $10.9 Million
- The International 2015 – $18.4 Million
- The International 2016 – $20.7 Million
- The International 2017 – $24.6 Million
- The International 2018 – $25.5 Million
- Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 – $30 Million
- The International 2019 – $34.3 Million
League of Legends World Championship 2017
Total Prize Pool: $4,946,969
The LoL World Championship in 2017 was the seventh edition of a world championship for the video game League of Legends. It was held from September 23 until November 4, and it took place in multiple cities across China, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Wuhan. It gathered the best 24 teams in the world, qualified based on their regional circuits. The initial prize pool was a little more than $2 million, but due to the large viewership and the huge sales of the Championship’s Ashe and ward skins, the pool was increased. The tournament is praised as one of the best-organised competitions in League of Legends’ history, due to the worldwide attention, tremendous ceremonial performances, multiple dramatic series and overall very high quality for an eSports contest.
In a best of five final series, the eSports team of Samsung Galaxy secured their second championship win, defeating the three-time world champions SK Telecom T1. The team managed to scoop $1,855,114 of the pot, while the second-placed team was rewarded $667,841. Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk, the AD carry of Samsung, was named the MVP of the tournament for his remarkable performances. The South Korean eSports team was founded in 2013 and competed professionally just for four years, as the 2017 World Championship was the last they participated in before the team was folded.
League of Legends World Championship 2016
Total Prize Pool: $5,070,000
The Lol World Championship in 2016 was held between September 29 and October 29. The eSports competition was held in the United States and surprisingly had a slightly higher prize pool than the one in 2017. The matches were held in US biggest cities Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It marked the first time, when fans and viewers could contribute to the tournament’s prize pool via in-game purchases. Sixteen teams qualified for the competition based on their placement in regional circuits such as those in North America, Europe, South Korea and China. Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, announced that 40% of the prize pool will be awarded to the winning team, while the runner-up will get 15%.
For the second year in a row, the South Korean eSports team SK Telecom T1 won the championship, defeating the team of Samsung Galaxy 3:2 in a best of five final series. The winners earned a little more than $2 million, while the prizes for second and third place were respectively $760,500 and $380,250. A total of 75 matches were played during the championship, and the T1 player Lee ‘Faker’ Sang was pronounced the tournaments’ MVP. The final was held in front of a crowd of nearly 20,000 fans at the Staples Center in LA and was followed by around 43 million people online.
League of Legends World Championship 2018
Total Prize Pool: $6,450,000
Making up for the lower prize pool the previous year, the League of Legends World Championship 2018 had a sizeable increase in money with a total of $6,450,000 up for grabs. The tournament took place in the South Korean cities of Busan, Seoul, Gwangju and Incheon, and it was held from October 1 to November 3. The format of 24 teams, with group and knockout stages used for the first time in 2017 was kept.
The opening ceremony received significant attention, with over 90 million concurrent viewers tuning in for the performance. The eSports championship is considered the most unpredictable in the history of League of Legends contests, because of the surprising results and the numerous upsets and turnarounds. If you are still wondering how such events gather such huge prize pools, let’s just say that the 2018 LoL World Championship surpassed the viewership of the Super Bowl. Fascinating, isn’t it? The contest became the most-watched eSports event in history, with a peak of over 200 million viewers during the finals.
The final laugh was for China’s Invictus Gaming as they won $2,418,750. Europe’s representatives Fnatic took home $870,750 for finishing in second place. This was the first time in League of Legends history when a team from China won the world championship, and a team from Europe was runner up. The dominance of the Korean eSports teams was over, after five years of being champions. The final series marked another record for the fastest world championship finals in history, as the total game time was just 85 minutes.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2014
Total Prize Pool: $10,931,103
As we move to 8-digit figures, we change the eSports game to Dota 2 – the most popular game in the world. Whether we speak about playing, esports gambling, social gatherings, tournament prize pools, or any other competitive gaming-related activity, Dota 2 is the undisputed champion.
The International 2014 was the fourth edition of the competition, and it was held in Seattle, Washington for the third consecutive year. Hosted by Valve Corporation, the tournament began on July 8 and closed doors on July 21 with the grand final. A total of 16 teams competed in the main event of the contest. 11 of those received a direct invitation, while 4 teams had to qualify through separate regional qualifiers, with the runners up in those qualifiers getting one last chance to compete for the final spot.
The champions of the tournament, also known as the Forth International, were Newbee, who won 3:1 in the final and became the second Chinese team to win the tournament. They ended up taking home the whopping $5,028,308. In second place, Vici Gaming received $1,475,700. It was the first time when the grand final was between two teams from Asia.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2015
Total Prize Pool: $18,429,613
After the massive success of the 2014 International, Valve corporation released a new compendium of in-game cosmetics for the 2015 International. This, combined with a large amount of money raised through sponsorships and viewership, saw the prize pool get all the way up to more than $18 million. The increase was unbelievable, as it nearly doubled up the prize pool from the previous year. The tournament began in May with the qualifier phase and ended after the Main Event in August. It took place at KeyArena in Seattle.
From a total of 16 participating teams, the winners of the tournament were the Seattle-based Evil Geniuses. After finishing at third place the previous year, this time they won $6,634,660, which was 36% of the whole pot. The second-placed team of the Chinese professional eSports organization LGD Gaming earned $2,856,590.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2016
Total Prize Pool: $20,770,460
At number five in our list of top 10 eSports prizes is the International Dota 2 Championship in 2016. For the first time in history, an eSports tournament prize pool surpassed $20 million. It was held again in Seattle, and it took place between June and August. As with previous tournaments, Valve continued to sell the compendium, but this time the company decided to rebrand the collection. A corresponding battle pass for Dota 2 was released before the event, and 25% of revenue made by it was added to the championship’s prize pool while the other 75% being used by Valve to cover production costs.
The round-robin group stage consisted of two groups of eight teams, with the top four of each group advancing to the upper bracket. The grand final took place in a best-of-five series between Wings Gaming and Digital Chaos, with the former winning the series 3:1. The winners earned $9,139,000, while the eSports award for second place was $3,427,126. The US-based team of Digital Chaos gained huge popularity, besides the incredible prize, as they achieved far greater success than what reasonably was expected. They gained the nickname ‘Cinderella team’, because of the popular sports term ‘Cinderella’ used mainly to describe strong underdogs.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2017
Total Prize Pool: $24,687,919
We continue our listing with the seventh Dota 2 International. Year after year, Dota 2 championships kept gaining more fans, players and sponsors, so the rise of the prize pools was understandable. It is next to impossible for other eSports games to compete with the reward funds of Dota 2 tournaments (with very few exceptions). The International 2017 began on June 22 with the open qualifications and finished on August 12 with the grand final. Similar to 2016, only 6 teams were directly invited to the event, with the rest 12 teams having to pass through the qualifiers. The International 2017 broke the record for the biggest eSports prize pool held by its previous iteration the year before.
The Netherlands based professional gaming organization Team Liquid, who were strong fan favourites, took home the gold medals, along with $10,862,683. The 2014 champions Newbee finished second and earned $3,950,067. For the first time in the history of the tournament, other relevant events took place, such as a cosplay competition and short film contests.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2018
Total Prize Pool: $25,532,177
As the competitive gaming championship prize pools continue to get bigger and bigger, we enter the top 3 eSports awards. The eight-annual edition of the International took place at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, being the first to be celebrated outside of the United States. The tournament began on June 14 with the open qualifiers, but the main event was between 20 and 25 August. The majority of the prize pool was gathered through several in-game items released by Valve, including the International 2018 Battle pass, a digital tournament pass and features bundle tied to the event, including many activities and cosmetic items.
The European professional Dota 2 team OG won the first prize of $11,234,158 despite the fact that they were considered the underdog team. They defeated the Chinese group PSG.LGD in exciting and entertaining series of games, ending 3:2, becoming the first final since 2013 to feature five games. Again, just like in 2017, other events took place during the tournament, in order to keep the millions of viewers entertained.
The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals
Total Prize Pool: $30,000,000
It is no surprise that the only game that can truly compete with the prize pools of Dota 2 competitions is Fortnite. The Epic Games creation ‘exploded’ in 2018. It quickly became one of the most played games in the world, and it was a matter of time before the game organised elite eSports competitions with stunning prize pools. When Epic Games finally decided to support Fortnite as a serious eSport, they vowed to contribute $100 million towards Fortnite eSports for 2019 alone, with $30 million going just for the Fortnite World Cup 2019 prize pool.
The tournament took place between 26 and 28 July and it was held at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York. Online events over 10 weeks from April to June gave players a chance to qualify for the finals, based on a points system. The top 100 Solo players and the top 50 Duos teams from around the world packed their bags and travelled to New York City, knowing that they have already won at least $50,000.
The two main events – the Fortnite Solo Finals and the Fortnite Duos Finals had total prize pools of $15 million each. The Solo event was won by 16-year-old American Kyle Giersdorf, known online as ‘Bugha’. He singlehandedly won $3 million in the matter of hours. Not bad for a teenager playing a video game, is it? And it wasn’t just him who became a millionaire over a day, as the awards for 2nd, 3rd and 4th places were respectively $1.8 million, $1.2 million and $1.05 million. As for the Duos Finals, the winners Emil ‘nyhrox’ Pedersen and David ‘aqua’ Wang claimed the gold and split $1.5 million each.
In addition to the World Cup, Epic Games dished out millions for a wide array of other tournaments during 2019 – Fortnite Champion Series, Skirmish Series, Twitchcon events, and more. This indicates that the game will keep expanding its’ horizons and the enormous eSports prize pools won’t be stopping any time soon. Today, the game can be played on computers, consoles and mobile devices and is played by more than 130 million players. Epic Games certainly aren’t messing about when it comes to Fortnite eSports presence, and it is expected that the game will replace the current number 1 eSports prize pool of Dota 2 championships in the following years.
The International Dota 2 Championship 2019
Total Prize Pool: $34,330,068
As you might have expected at this point, the largest eSports prize pool ever is The International Dota 2 Championship 2019. It was the ninth annual edition of The International and it was held for the first time on Chinese soil. The tournament took place in August 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. 12 teams were directly invited to the tournament, and the other six earned invites through regional qualifiers played in July. The event had over a million concurrent viewers during the grand finals just on the live streaming platform Twitch.
The grand finals took place between Team Liquid and OG, both International champions, respectively in 2017 and 2018. Over $15.6 million went to the winners, OG, while more than $4.4 million went to the runners up, who lost the finals 3:1. It is important to point out that the initial prize fund that Valve had set aside was $1.6 million. This means that almost the entire prize pool was funded by fans, proving just how powerful crowdfunded eSports prize pools can be.
Since its first event in 2011, The International Championship has awarded more than $140 million. The trend of Dota 2 tournament prize pools getting larger with every year seems impenetrable and players and fans all over the world already can’t wait to see what will happen in the near future.
More on eSports Tournaments and Competitive Gaming
Leading the largest prize pools for competitive gaming at the moment is undoubtedly Dota 2, but this doesn’t mean that other eSports games don’t organise worthy competitions with rewarding prize pools. CG: GO, FIFA, Starcraft II, Call of Duty and Overwatch are just some of the eSports games that also annually organise professional tournaments and contests, where the best players can compete for the gold. But regardless of the game, being a professional gamer is not as easy as it sounds. It requires a lot of skill, determination and of course thousands and thousands of hours of practice. And if you think that only winning a prestigious eSports tournament makes up for the many, many hours spent playing, don’t forget that the top eSports players don’t count on just tournament money. Some of them earn up to $15,000 an hour broadcasting games on live-streaming platforms.
Final Words and What to Expect from the Future
As you can see, eSports awards and tournaments are no joke. The simplicity of playing a standard video game along with the eagerness of playing in front of millions of viewers and competing for mind-boggling awards all make up for the tremendous rise of the eSports industry. The growth in terms of both quantity and quality of professional eSports tournaments and competitions is obviously massive. It also comes as no surprise that many of the casinos are getting into eSports and start to offer valuable markets and odds, so that fans can get even closer to the eSports industry.