The world of competitive video gaming is now one of the most popular in the entertainment and sports industries, with millions of fans right across the globe regularly tuning in on platforms such as Twitch or YouTube to keep up with all the action from their favorite titles.
Esports is also now one of the most lucrative sectors in the world, with a rapidly rising level of worth thanks largely to the huge influx of impressive sponsors and partnership programs that have cropped up between companies, teams, players and event coordinators. Professional players are now superstars in their own right, earning more in their exploits than the victors at major real-world sporting events such as Wimbledon, the US Open and even the Super Bowl.
Here is the definitive look at the largest Esports prize pools of all time. To keep it fair and interesting, we’ve kept it limited to one game per inclusion i.e., Dota 2’s The International 2019 will be included, but The Boston Major 2016 won’t be.
Halo World Championships 2016
Announced by Microsoft in the summer of 2015, the Halo World Championships in 2016 was a real game-changer for not only the popularity of Esports amongst the console community but the entire sector as a whole. Taking place on March 2016 in Hollywood of all places, 16 teams from around the globe battled it out in four groups, with the top two sides going into the knockout rounds.
North American outfit Counter Logic Gaming came out on top as they beat Team Allegiance in the final and secured 40% of the prize purse. By the end of the tournament, the prize purse stood at a cool $2.5 million, which was a record for a console Esport event and was beefy enough to keep it in this list.
SMITE World Championships 2015
Only released in March 2014, SMITE had one heck of an epic rise to the top of the Esports pyramid. Hoovering up hundreds of thousands of fans across the world and helping to create the first SMITE World Championship in January 2015, eight teams came together from countries ranging from Brazil to China to compete against each other and claim the title as the world’s very best.
The SMITE World Championship was held in Atlanta, Georgia, was hosted by Hi-Rez Studios and was heavily sponsored by Curse Voices. At the time of its hosting, the tournament’s prize purse of $2.6 million was the third-largest in the history of Esports.
League of Legends World Championship 2018
One look at Unikrn.com will show that League of Legends is the world’s most stacked, most popular and most lucrative Esport. The annual Worlds event is the culmination of the League of Legends competitive calendar and remains the biggest and most important competition in the entire game. It regularly attracts more viewers than the Super Bowl and attracts huge investments from companies such as MasterCard and Alienware.
The League of Legends World Championship in 2018 was hosted in South Korea between 1st October and 3rd November, culminating in a nail-biting finale between European team Fnatic and Chinese giants Invictus Gaming. Invictus’ 3-0 win saw them scoop up 37% of the $6.45 million prize purse, making it the biggest purse in LoL history and the highest of any game outside of Dota and Fortnite.
Fortnite World Cup 2019 (Singles and Duo)
This year’s Fornite World Cup saw Esports finally make the big breakthrough from niche pursuit to mainstream headline news breaker. The story of sixteen-year-old pro player Bugha storming to victory wowed the world, with the American netting a cool $3 million for his winning run. Fortnite remains one of the most successful and popular games ever released, reigniting the battle royale genre that had gone stale through the clever use of influencers such as the legendary Ninja.
With the Fortnite World Cup’s Single and Duo modes worth around a staggering $15 million each, the event was worth well over $30 million all in, totally smashing apart all records before it. The success of the Fornite World Cup has secured the game its place in Esports history, and it will be fascinating to see where the game evolves going forward.
The International 2019
MOBA giant Dota 2 has been able to brag about possessing the world’s most lucrative Esports competition ever since 2011 with the launch of their International competition. The pinnacle of competitive Dota, the International has seen its prize purse rise from $1.6 million in 2011, to $2.8 million in 2013, $10.3 million in 2014, $18.4 million in 2015, $20.7 million in 2016, $24.6 million in 2017 and $25.5 million in 2018. It truly has been a meteoric rise for the Blizzard title, keeping it firmly at the top of the Esports table.
Dota’s bragging rights were suddenly put under pressure in 2019 however, as the Fortnite World Cup’s epic $30 million purses dwarfed The 2018 International’s $25.5 million, making it the most lucrative Esports competition ever. Fortnite’s record would last little more than a month however as Dota hit back with the biggest International ever – a whopping $34.4 million was put up for grabs by the game’s crowdfunding program, seeing winners Team OG become one of the most lucrative sides in the entire sector.