Seeing the birth and evolution of a new sport is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For the 400 million fans around the world, eSports have been in the mainstream for the past five or six years. For the majority, however, eSports is only a recent trend, where lots of money and lots of entertaining are happening. One of those huge, impressive things are the earnings up for grabs.
Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Starcraft II, plus five more games are all putting more than 500 million dollars into eSports competitions this year.
From the biggest tournament and highest earnings to the highest-grossing teams, we will show you the game titles that offer the most money to pro gamers.
Dota 2: The International
Each year, the Valve Corporation, Dota 2’s game developer and publisher, organizes The International. The tournament has been running since 2011 and its earnings have grown at explosive rates, helping it become one of the eSports’ flagship competitions.
In 2011, the total purse was $1,600,000, where the winning team, Natus Vincere, won $1,000,000. In 2015, Evil Geniuses pocketed $6,616,014 from a total purse of $18,429,613. That represents a 413.50% increase in just 4 years. In 2018, the record-breaking earning pool was $25,532,177.
So, how did this happen? Starting in 2014, Valve decided to release an interactive compendium, which is now known as Battle Pass, where 25% of the proceeds from this in-game package will go to fund the tournament’s earnings.
Last year, the European team OG won the largest single prize won in the history of eSports: $11,234,158. Each of the team members took home almost $2 million, after the team and coach deductions.
The International 2019 already has earnings of $12,439,687. Launched only two weeks from the time of this writing, this year’s purse is 24.67% ahead of last year’s tournament. If things continue like this, the total earnings could reach $30,000,000 or more, putting it among the top 3 eSports tournaments ever.
Fornite: Fortnite World Cup
Fortnite eSports journey is not as long or dramatic as the past two. Or at least not yet. So far, Fortnite’s eSport journey began late last year, when Epic Games began organizing weekly and daily tournaments. This year, however, they are venturing into the mainstream.
At the beginning of the year, Fortnite pledged to distribute $100 million throughout 2019. This is unprecedented. Not only because it is the biggest eSports earnings ever but also because they are giving it away every week.
Until the time of this writing, Epic Games has distributed over $30 million. $1 million for every week (22 weeks at the end of May), plus the money awarded on special events and the Fortnite Worldcup Qualifiers ($1 million per round).
Out of all the weekly events, qualifiers, and opens none is more grand and majestic as the Fortnite World Cup. From July 26th to July 28th, 2019, the best Fortnite gamers around the world will compete for a $30 million earnings.
The Solo Champion will take home $3 million. Financially, this represents the most significant individual cash prize in the history of eSports. The Duos Champions will probably take $1.5 million each.
League of Legends: World Championship
Riot Games is known for creating excellent live and online eSports experiences. From AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) to concerts and dramatic performances, League of Legends championships does not cease to amaze viewers. Simply put, League of Legends commands the eSports scene.
Throughout the year, Riot Games organizes several tournaments and championships throughout its franchised leagues around the world. For instance, the two annual NA LCS seasons (Spring and Summer) have a total earnings of $200,000. The Chinese League of Legends Pro League awards the best team $550,000 per season.
The Mid-Season Invitational, hosted every May, is another tournament where the Spring champions can compete for a minimum purse of $1,000,000. Fan contributions, through the purchase of in-game skins, can boost that number as well.
The League of Legends World Championship is always one of the most-watched live eSports events. Last year, over 90 million people tuned in to watch Invictus Gaming beat Fnatic and earn $2,418,750. The total earnings were $6,450,000.
Based on the last couple of years, the best League of Legends players can earn up to $500,000 before tax. It would not be crazy to say that that number is expected to grow in the upcoming years.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Majors
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been, without a doubt, one of the eSports oldest and most dramatic scenes. With intense rivalries between France, Denmark, UK, and America, the competitive scene has flourished at the speed of the industry itself.
The CS: GO scene is split between minor and major tournaments. The Intel Xtreme Masters, the FACEIT Major, and the ELeague Major are all tournaments with earnings of $1,000,000. Over the year, a team can make up to $5,000,000 if it manages to win an astounding majority of the competitions.
For instance, the Danish team Astralis won $500,000 last May 11th in the Katowice major. While the second-place team, ENCE Sports, took home $150,000. Taking a closer look at Astralis’ squad, we see that their best players have each won more than $1 million in earnings. Overall, the CS: GO competitive scene allows the best players to make a great living out of gaming.
Starcraft II: World Championship Series
Always one of the most strategically important games, Starcraft is still one of the most competitive eSports. With its epicenter in Korea, the competitive scene is unique in the sense that the earnings are spread out among many events.
Last year, for instance, the Finnish player Joona ‘Serral‘ Sotala won $280,000 from the World Championship Series finals.
Hearthstone: Hearthstone Masters
2019 has been an exciting year for the Hearthstone competitive scene. Blizzard decided to simplify and unify the landscape by replacing the Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT) with the Hearthstone Masters Program.
For players, this means more tournaments and highest earnings: Blizzard will be allocating $4 million to competitions. There hasn’t been a better time for competitive Hearthstone players. Hunterace is proof of that. He took home the winning share of this year’s Hearthstone World Championship. The $1,000,000 were split by Hunterace ($250,000), Viper ($150,000), and Bunnyhoppor and Jing with a $100,000 each.
With the rising popularity and game adoption, the future of Hearthstone’s competitive landscape looks promising. Players can surely expect increased earnings and more official tournaments over the coming years.
To be part of this industry at this time is simply awesome. We are living amazing times, and these earnings reflect that. Let’s work for a better gaming future, one where everyone has the opportunity to follow their dreams and make a living out what they love!