A Guide To The Richest Esports Tournaments And Games In The Industry

Published: Jul 27, 2017 - Last Updated: Jan 22, 2023

[toc]Have you ever dreamed of playing live in front of tens of thousands of fans and millions more watching at home? How about hoisting a trophy and watching your bank account swell?

Well, that is the reality for the top esports players in the world today. As interest in esports has grown, so has the money on offer in tournaments.

In this article, we are going to examine which tournaments and esports titles tend to offer the biggest bucks to their players. Then, we’ll take a look at the 10 biggest all-time esports tourneys in terms of prize pools.

What is the best esport for winning big money?

It should be obvious not everyone has the talent or opportunity it takes to be a world-class esports player. But let’s pretend a virtuoso young gamer was reading this and trying to pick a title in which to specialize. What’s the smartest long-term financial choice to make? Some esports offer considerably bigger prize pools than others.

Dota 2 tends to have the largest prize pools in the industry, followed by League of Legends. By this measure, both are substantially ahead of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and CS:GO is well ahead of StarCraft II.

Outlined below are the richest tournaments for each of these esports.

Dota 2 – The International

Dota 2 The International is the industry behemoth, offering a prize pool four times greater than its nearest rival in any esport. Over the years, its prize money has grown massively: from the $1.6 million offered in the 2011 and 2012 events to nearly $3 million in 2013.

As esports gaming and viewing continued to grow, The International attracted incredible interest. That was clearly shown in 2014 when the prize money rocketed up to $10.9 million and then jumped again to almost $18.5 million in 2015. The tournament’s pool broke the $20 million barrier in 2016. The confirmed money for this year’s International — Aug. 2 in Seattle — is already more than $22 million, and that number is likely to keep growing.

League of Legends – World Championship

Perhaps the only event that could conceivably challenge The International’s financial dominance is the League of Legends World Championships. Indeed, the LoL 2016 Worlds is the only event on the 10 largest pools list that is not a Dota 2 event.

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Although this is arguably a more popular tournament with fans than the Dota 2 event (and certainly attracts more interest in the press), the way the LoL Worlds prize pool is funded — chiefly by sponsorships rather than ticket sales — means the total money offered is considerably less. That said, this is still the richest sponsor-only prize in esports (sponsors only put up $1.6 million of The International’s prize fund), and winning teams will make a mint from the event. Just check out SK Telecom T1’s earnings over the past four years for confirmation of that.

CS:GO – World Electronic Sports Games / ELEAGUE Season

Well behind the two giants of esports, CS:GO is split between which is its most prestigious event: the World Electronic Sports Games or the ELEAGUE Season tournament.

Both have comparable prizes, the largest two prize pools in CS:GO. Last year, it was $1.5 million for the World Electronic Sports Games and $1.41 million for the ELEAGUE Season 1 (though this year’s dropped to $1.1 million).

Starcraft II – WCS Global Finals

The WCS Global Finals is an individual event for the top Starcraft II players across the globe with a prize pool of $500,000 confirmed for the 2017 event. As an individual, rather than team, event, the prize money for StarCraft II tends to be considerably less than in the other esports.

What are largest prize pools in esports history?

Dota 2 tournaments own nine of the top 10 places on this list. And with the news that the prize pool for The International 2017 is going to be higher than ever, it looks like there will be a new number one on this list within a few weeks.

  1. The International 2016 – Dota 2 – $20,770,640 (16 teams competed)
  2. The International 2015 – Dota 2 – $18,429,613 (16 teams competed)
  3. The International 2014 – Dota 2 – $10,931,103 (16 teams competed)
  4. League of Legends Worlds 2016 – LoL – $5,070,000 (16 teams competed)
  5. DAC 2015 – Dota 2 – $3,057,521 (20 teams competed)
  6. The Boston Major 2016 – Dota 2 – $3,000,000 (16 teams competed)
  7. The Frankfurt Major 2015 – Dota 2 – $3,000,000 (16 teams competed)
  8. The Manila Major 2016 – Dota 2 – $3,000,000 (16 teams competed)
  9. The Kiev Major 2017 – Dota 2 – $3,000,000 (16 teams competed)
  10. The Shanghai Major 2016 – Dota 2 – $3,000,000 (16 teams competed)

Additionally, the League of Legends World Championships 2017, scheduled later this year in Beijing, may also have a prize pool that will place somewhere on this list.

Other big esports tournaments

It is worth noting console gaming events that offer multiplayer compatibility also offer big money. The Smite World Championship in 2015 had a prize pool of $2.6 million. The Halo World Championship in 2016 had a $2.5 million prize pool. The Call of Duty Black Ops III XP Championship in 2016 offered a prize fund of $2 million.

Other console-friendly games that offer top esports tournament prizes include the 2017 Madden Championship ($500,000) and the Turbo Racing League ($500,000).

Ian John

Since: August 10, 2015

Ian is a regular contributor to EsportsBets. Ian is well-versed in the world of esports betting and casino gaming and has written extensively on the online gambling industry. Ian brings fresh insight into all facets of gaming.

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