The eSports industry is on the rise. From humble beginnings back in the ‘80s and ‘90s to global awareness and superstardom for the more popular Overwatch, League of Legends and Dota 2 teams, it’s safe to say that eSports has become an overwhelming success. It’s not hard to see why, either; the best games between trained professionals easily match the drama and excitement of any major mainstream sporting event, and for those in the know, perhaps even exceed it.
It stands to reason, then, that with mainstream interest growing and prominence among the public increasing, the prize pools on offer in eSports tournaments and events are also increasing exponentially. It’s not uncommon to see prizes of up to $20 million being offered to the winners of the most prestigious eSports events, and that amount is only set to increase as the market value of the discipline skyrockets. Here are some of the biggest wins in eSports history.
The International 7
The International is the final tournament in the Dota 2 Pro Circuit season. It’s held every year between June and August, with the final main event taking place in mid-August. The International boasts the biggest prize pool in all of eSports, with a whopping $25 million up for grabs cumulatively. Of course, that amount isn’t taken home by one person, or even one team; it’s divvied up between those who take the top 4 places in the tournament. Still, the individual amount each team ends up taking with them is staggering. This year saw Team OG claiming $11 million for their efforts, with runners-up PSG.LGD, Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid scoring $4 million, $2.6 million and $1.8 million respectively. This amount puts Team OG safely in the record books as the biggest eSports earners of all time.
2016 League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2016)
With a prize pool of $5 million divided between all of the competing teams, Worlds 2016 can’t quite boast the monumental sums offered by The International. Still, $5 million isn’t to be sniffed at, and winners SK Telecom T1 took home $2 million for their victory in the October 2016 final. Runners-up Samsung Galaxy claimed $760,500, while third and fourth place were tied between ROX Tigers and H2k-Gaming, who each received half of the $380,250 prize allocated to third place. League of Legends is still going strong as an eSport, with Worlds 2017 reaching an eventual prize pool of $4.95 million – not quite as strong as the 2016 showing, but extremely respectable nonetheless. This tournament was remarkable for the fact that Riot Games allowed fans to purchase in-game items in order to increase the overall prize pool; a portion of the proceeds from item sales went towards bolstering the coffers for the event.
Dota 2 Asia Championship 2015 (The Oriental, DAC 2015)
Dota 2 fans who watched the 2015 Asia Championship found themselves witnessing something extraordinary. Evil Geniuses, who refreshed their roster that year, absolutely cleaned house in the final, destroying opponents Vici Gaming 3-0 to take home the lion’s share of the $3 million prize pool. Dota 2 and its closest cousin, League of Legends, are absolutely massive in China, where this event took place. It’s estimated that the market size for eSports will reach $1.5 billion in China alone by 2020, and since League of Legends developer Riot Games is owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, this share is only likely to increase in the future. Asia is a major hub for eSports, which is why the prize pool for the Asia Championship is as high as it is.
Halo World Championship 2016
Moving away from the MOBA-dominated world of Asian eSports, we have Microsoft and 343 Industries’ Halo World Championship tournament. The 2016 iteration of this event took place in March 2015 (the numbering system is similar to the one used by games like FIFA and Madden, covering the year after rather than the current year), and saw 16 teams competing to take home the majority of a $2.5 million prize pool. Counter Logic Gaming were the eventual victors, snagging a cool $1 million, followed by runners-up Team Allegiance, who took half of that at $500,000. Third and fourth place were, like the 2016 League of Legends Worlds event, tied, with Team eLevate and Denial eSports each taking home $250,000. Fan favourites Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid also competed, but didn’t manage to reach the coveted top 4.
These are just four of the biggest wins in eSports history. With the industry’s star on the rise and companies lining up for advertising and sponsorship deals, the eSports rocket hasn’t even left the pad yet; expect more money, more flashy events and more games (Epic Games’ Fortnite is a serious contender) in the months and years to come.