Esports was one of the few industries that came out of the first year of the Coronavirus crisis somewhat okay – where industries like hospitality and entertainment suffered severely, esports organizations saw a surge in popularity. It makes sense – people had more time to check out esports games than ever before, what with not being allowed to do much outside their own homes.
Naturally, the industry is dominated by several large teams – names that you will find in just about every esports pro scene, give or take. Still, you may be surprised to hear that top performance doesn’t always equal size, funding or fans – here are the biggest esports organizations of the last year.
TeamSoloMid’s estimated value is north of $400 million, with a yearly revenue of about $35 million. Value-wise, they have nearly doubled their revenue since 2018, increasing it by as much as $150 million. By far their ‘best’ game is League of Legends, where they command a huge fanbase, despite their team’s performance having been down for several years. They have still managed to win over $7 million in prize money since the founding of TSM.
2. Team Liquid
Team Liquid belongs on any list featuring the biggest or best esports organizations. Not only are they valued at more than $320 million with a revenue on par with Cloud9, but they also hold the title of most tournament winnings ever. At well over $36 million winnings from nearly 2000 tournaments, they are by far the most accomplished esports organization in the world, with only OG coming close to them in earnings. Team Liquid holds another illustrious record – in 2020, they had the most airtime of any esports org, a total of 1.4k hours. Bravo! They may not have as high a valuation as Cloud9 but they have made far more money in tournament winnings and have fielded far more successful teams.
3. Esports Entertainment Group
Esports Entertainment Group, or EEG, is a licensed online gambling company like Unikrn or Luckbox that focuses on the growing esports betting sector, their biggest claim to fame is that they are the only esports company listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol GMBL.
As an international sportsbook, they operate offices in New Jersey, the UK, and Malta. They offer a Player-to-Player (P2P) wagering system that allows esports bettors the ability to bet against one another.
They have been a historically European focused operation, but they have recently applied for a betting license in New Jersey and are planning a major branding push into Latin America with with their brand Vie.bet esports. This esports organization is poised to take over the esports betting market.
4. FaZe Clan
Far from just a clan, the CS:GO focused team isn’t just strong in the esports scene itself, but also has a number of top streamers signed to their name – and that’s in addition to the $240 million valuation that Forbes gave for the organization. Their yearly revenue is larger than that of some bigger organizations, being just above $35 million. Their tournament winnings have not cracked the $10 million yet, but they are headed in that direction, sitting at $9.5 million at the moment.
5. T1 Esports
T1 Esports is a South Korean esports team operated by T1 Entertainment & Sports, a joint venture between SK Telecom and Comcast Spectacor. They own and operate the ultra-successful T1 League of Legends (LoL) Champions Korea (LCK) team, along with teams in competitive gaming segments that include Fortnite, Dota 2, PUBG, Super Smash Bros., Hearthstone, and Apex Legends.
They may not have the highest valuation in terms of dollars, but they have been expanding their reach beyond competitive gaming to entertainment streamers and Twitch personalities. Recently they signed popular Twitch streamer Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp as a content creator.
Founded in 2004, Fnatic is one of the oldest organizations the esports industry has – and it’s no wonder they’re on this list as well. Competing in Fortnite, CS:GO, LoL, Dota 2, R6, and more, they’re an all-rounder organization with fans just about everywhere – and thus also their valuation, placed at about $175 million, their yearly revenue estimated to be $16 million. They are also one of the top winning teams in the world – more than $16 million in tournament money have made their way into Fnatics coffers over the years. This is despite having a somewhat weak 2020 – their CS:GO team was nerfed quite a bit, and their Dota 2 team suffered from the loss of its captain to Evil Geniuses.
Another team that owns an OWL team (specifically Seoul Dynasty), this organization also has its fingers in all the pies. NBA2k, League of Legends, and more – this Korean organization is valued at more than $185 million, with a somewhat slimmer revenue of about $9 million per year. Their tournament winnings are soon to hit $6 million overall, placing them just a bit ahead of groups like NiP, mousesports, or NRG. 2020 was one of their most successful years ever, placing extremely high in League of Legends tournaments, while also placing well (for the first time) in the Overwatch League.
8. ESL Gaming
In 2000 the founders of ESL started the Electronic Sports League (ESPL) in Cologne, Germany as an offshoot of Turtle Entertainment. Over the years, their popularity began to snowball, in 2014 their Intel Extreme Masters tournament drew in around 650,000 concurrent viewers. In 2015 they had their first $1,000,000 prize. In 2016 their tournament, ESL One, drew in 14,000 spectators every day. In 2017 the company branched into PUBG. In 2018 their ESL One tournament sold out the largest indoor sports arena in Germany.
It is safe to say that ESL has been a driving force in the esports community. With the ESL Pro Tour, Intel Extreme Masters, DreamHack Masters, ESL Pro League, and other esports tournaments under their belt it is clear to see that they will remain a fixture of the esports scene for years to come.
9. G2 Esports
Back-to-back League of Legends LEC champions, G2 has achieved a lot – a win in the MSI and a spot in the Worlds final included. Additionally, they also compete in R6 and CS:GO, as well as some other games. They are valued at ‘only’ $165 million, but with a yearly revenue of an impressive $22 million. Their revenue is no accident – their rosters can back it up, having gained them over $8 million in prize money over the years. G2 saw a slight dwindle when it came to fans watching them… but even with nearly 10 million hours watched less than in 2019, they ended up as the most-watched team in the world. Mostly due to LoL, they amassed more than 90 million hours watched in 2020!
10. NRG Esports
NRG Esports is an American professional esports organization based in Los Angeles, California. They have fielded teams in Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Clash Royale, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Fortnite, Gears of War, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Valorant, plus a number of streamers on Twitch.
The team was founded by Sacramento Kings co-owners Mark Mastrov and Andy Miller in November 2015. While they are a relatively new operation, they deserve a space on this list because of the rapidly increasing support from major players in the sports and entertainment world. In March 2016 NRG announced that Alex Rodriguez, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jimmy Rollins were joining as investors. A year later, Tiesto was also announced as an investor. They may not be the top-performing team out there, but they have the support to grow.
What about the betting industry?
As far as esports betting goes, there was a clear winner among the titles – CS:GO was by far the most popular game to bet on. No game had more esports odds placed or requested than the popular shooter, with over 53% of the overall money bet on popular site Lootbet.com esports being in CS:GO. Dota 2 was lagging behind with some 35%, and League of Legends another 7%. Other games like FIFA, StarCraft 2, Valorant, and Overwatch lagged even further.
Featured Image Credits: Sport Techie