With all the latest technological advancements, the popularity of online gaming and eSports has skyrocketed it into a billion-dollar industry. It’s no secret that gambling and sports have a long intertwining history, and the online variations are no different. People are getting loads of entertainment and excitement from playing and wagering on eSports.
ESports can be just as exciting as physical sports, and they also require a certain set of skills and teamwork that make this virtual life feel very real. This is why every year, thousands of people place bets on the outcome of big eSports and gaming events. The rewards can reach mind-blowing sums, and victors feel as much satisfaction as professional athletes.
We’re breaking down the top 10 eSports tournament prize pools and what to expect for the future of eSports. You won’t believe these rewards!
10. League of Legends World Championship 2017
This was the seventh League of Legends world championship for the multiplayer battle arena video game, League of Legends. Held from Septemeber to November, this tournament holds the number 10 spot on our list for largest eSports tournament prize pools.
Consisting of the best 24 teams in the world, it took place across multiple Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Wuhan. The teams were qualified based on their regional circuits. Initially, the prize pool was just barely over $2 million, but a huge increase in viewership and in-game sales pushed the ultimate reward to $4,946,969!
The tournament final was a “best of five” series, and the Samsung Galaxy team finished in first place for their second time. They defeated three-time world champions, SK Telecom T1. The first place reward was $1,855,114 of the pot, and the second-place team was awarded $667,841. This tournament has gone down in history as one of the most well-organized and exciting eSports tournaments to ever take place.
9. League of Legends World Championship 2016
In 2016, the League of Legends World Championship was held from September to October in various U.S. cities, such as Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Something that makes this championship special is that it was the first time fans and viewers could contribute to the prize pool. Their contributions could be made in the form of in-game purchases, such as character skins, weapons, and more.
For this specific championship, the developer of League of Legends, Riot Games, declared that 40% of the $5,070,000 prize pool would go to the first-place team and second place would get 15%.
Defending champs, SK Telecom T1 won the championship after defeating Samsung Galaxy in a best of five series. SK Telecom T1 walked away with a little over 2 million, while second and third place were awarded $760,500 and $380,250, respectively.
The final championship took place at the Staples Center in Las Angeles, California, and nearly 43 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the games!
8. League of Legends World Championship 2018
After a decreased prize pool the previous year, League of Legends made it their mission to make up for it in 2018 — and they did! In 2018, the total prize pool was $6,450,000. This year, it was held in multiple South Korean cities (Busan, Seoul, Gwangju, and Incheon), and keeping with tradition, it took place in autumn.
The LoL World Championship of 2018 was significant for many reasons. The most noteworthy achievement is that it became the most-watched eSports event in history. Over 200 million people watched the finals — this is double the most-watched Super Bowl game in history!
This is also considered by LoL fans to be the most unpredictable eSports event. The tournament was packed full of upsets and surprising comebacks.
For the first time ever, China’s Invictus Gaming team won first place and went home with $2,418,750. Europe’s team, Fnatic, came in second and was awarded $870,750. The first and second place winners also made this championship unique, as it was the first time in history that the Korean eSports teams did not win first or second — their five-year reign was over. To make history even further, this was the fasted League of Legends finale ever, lasting just 85 minutes.
For LoL fans, this one will never be forgotten.
7. The International 2014
Our seventh position is where things get serious. Things are heating up and we’re now entering the eight-digit figure zone. The next several spots are dominated by Dota 2’s world championship, The International.
Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game, and while the style and character appearances are similar to League of Legends, certain differences in gameplay and functions make Dota 2 stand out. Dota 2 is a champion itself among eSports. It dominates most charts in regards to online gaming, gambling, and personal opinion.
Hosted by Valve, the game’s developer, The International in 2014 was the fourth year for the competition. It was held in Seattle, Washington from July 8 to July 21. Sixteen teams competed in the competition — eleven of them received a direct invitation, while the remaining four qualified through separate regional qualifiers.
The prize pool was an astonishing $10.9 million, with the winning team, Newbee, taking home $5,028,308. Newbee was the second Chinese team to win first place in the tournament. Vici Gaming took home second place and walked away with $1,475,700.
6. The International 2015
The astonishing success of the 2014 International allowed for game advancements and new in-game purchases and packages for players to by. These funds, together with sponsorships, contributed to the pool prize for the 2015 International, and the pot was nearly doubled, standing at $18.4 million!
The competition took place in Seattle, once again, and consisted of sixteen teams. First place went to the Seattle-based team, Evil Geniuses — home-court advantage? They took home $6,634,660, which was 36% of the prize pool. The Chinese team, LGD Gaming placed second and walked away with $2,856,590.
5. The International 2016
Number five on our list is significant for a few reasons, but the main one being that it is the first time in history an eSports tournament prize pool reached $20 million — $20,770,460 to be exact.
This year, the reigning champs from Seattle were not given a direct invitation to the championship due to breaking the rule of roster swapping after completion of the last premier Dota 2 tournament. They had to go through the regional qualifiers (where they eventually placed first) to gain entry to the championship.
The finale was a best of five series between Wings Gaming and Digital Chaos. The Chinese team, Wings Gaming came in first place and went home with $9,139,000 in their pockets.
This championship is thought to be one of the best in history after displaying huge upsets. The U.S. team, Digital Chaos gained the nickname “Cinderella Team” as a result of their unforeseen success.
4. The International 2017
Valve has done it again, and the pot just keeps getting bigger! In 2017, The International had grown immensely in popularity and viewership. This year, the championship was more than just a gaming competition. Cosplay events, film screenings, and other various activities were held in Seattle as part of The International.
The in-game purchases continued allowing the prize pool to reach an amazing $24,687,919. A professional gaming organization from the Netherlands called Team Liquid took the first place prize and flew back home with an extra $10,862,683! Team Liquid was a fan favorite and their success was no surprise. Second place went to Newbee, who won in 2014 as you might remember, and they walked away with $3,950,067.
3. The International 2018
As we enter the top three eSports awards, the prize pools grow to unbelievable numbers. In 2018, Valve had sold so many in-game purchases, the Dota 2 Championship was able to have a pot totaling $25,532,177!
2018 was the first year for the Dota 2 Championship to be held outside of the United States. Teams from all over the world flew to Vancouver to compete for a chance to win the grand prize. The professional Dota 2 team of Europe, OG, defeated the Chinese team, PSG.LGD and went home with over $11 million.
2. Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019
Fortnite came onto the scene in 2018 and took the eSports world by storm. It is the only game so far that has been able to compete with Dota 2 in regards to the size of the world championship and prize pool. After its release, Fortnite became one of the most played games in the entire world. The creator of Fortnite, Epic Games, quickly realized the success and pledged $100 million toward a Fornite eSports tournament. Of that contribution, $30 million went to the prize pool for the championship, making it the second-largest in history.
Players had a chance to qualify based on a point system. The top 100 solo players and top 50 duo teams from around the world flew to New York City for a chance to compete and win the incredible first place award. The solo and duo tournaments would each have a total prize pool of $15 million. The solo event was won by a sixteen-year-old American boy named, Kyle Giersdorf, or Bugha — he walked away with $3 million.
Fortnite is not leaving the eSports soon anytime soon, and it is even expected that it will replace Dota 2 as the leader of all eSports competitions in the near future.
1. The International 2019 – $34.3 Million
While Fortnite is a close contender, for now, Dota 2 holds the first place spot on our list for most insane eSports prize pools. In 2019, The Dota 2 International Championship of 2019 took place in Shanghai, China for the first time. This event was highly anticipated and is still one of the most-watched eSports championships ever.
The final series was between Team Liquid and OG. They had both won previous tournaments before, so they wanted this badly. OG ended up winning 3:1 and was awarded over $15.6 million, while Team Liquid received $4.4 million.
The prize pool of the Dota 2 Championship is expected to rise with every passing year. So, stay updated on all the eSports competitions to see if they will keep their first place spot, or if they have some competition themselves.