E-Sports is one of the largest growing industries in the world. Ever since the craze over video game competition started E-Sports has exponentially grown. The popularity has gone through the roof with tournaments averaging millions of simultaneous viewers. With the growing popularity, investors have poured in and E-Sports has broken through to the mainstream media.
Former NBA Mega stars Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neil, Jeremy Lin and Rick Fox have both established their own E-Sports organisations. American DJ Steve Aoki also has his own team Rogue Gaming. With so much attention from the mainstream, the prize pools of top-level E-Sports tournaments have gone through the roof as well. Here, I will take a look at the top 10 largest prize pools in E-Sports History.
E-Sports tournaments usually had a much lower Prize pool. Usual prize pools ranged anywhere under $500,000. But everything changed once Valve announced The International. The $1.6 Million tournaments broke the record in 2011 for the highest prize pool in E-Sports. Since then 24 tournaments have broken that record. Let us look at 10 of the largest ones.
[Spoiler alert: It's literally one game throughout the list except for an odd spot here and there]
#10 The Frankfurt Major 2015 - $3 Million (Dota 2)
The Frankfurt Major 2015 was the first Major of the 2015-16 Season. It was the first Valve Major in Dota 2 as part of the 2015-16 Dota Major season. The event took place in the Festhalle Messe in Frankfurt, Germany. The tournament included 16 teams from all over the world, representing players from 19 different countries, competing for 3 Million Dollars.
OG won the tournament after 7 consecutive series victories in the Lower Brackets. The historic run would be the first of OG's 4 Major victories. OG would take home $1,110,000. Team Secret, who placed 2nd took home $405,000 and 3rd placed EG won $315,000.
#9 The Boston Major 2016 - $3 Million (Dota 2)
The Boston Major 2016 was the first Major in the 2016-17 Season. It was the first event in Valve's Major season for 2016-17. It took place in the Wang Theater in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. The tournament was competed between 16 teams for a prize pool of 3 Million Dollars. Players represented 20 countries in the tournament. It was the first Dota 2 Major to feature a Single Elimination bracket.
OG won the tournament winning their 3rd Major. OG took home $1 Million Dollars after they beat Greek upstarts Ad Finem in the grand finals. Ad Finem got $500,000 for their efforts. Digital Chaos and Evil Geniuses who placed 3rd and 4th got $250,000 each.
#8 Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015 - $3,057,519 (Dota 2)
The Dota 2 Asia Championship is the Chinese version of The International. Every year it boasts a huge prize pool and some amazing Dota. The 2015 edition of the DAC was the only non-International Dota tournament to have an interactive Compendium. As a result, the user-generated prize pool exceeded 3 Million Dollars for the Shanghai event. It is also the only tournament on this list to have 20 participants.
Evil Geniuses won the tournament winning $1,284,158. Home team Vici Gaming placed second winning $366,902. Team Secret completed the podium with a 3rd placed finish and a prize of $275,177.
#7 League of Legends 2017 World Championship - $4,946,969 (League of Legends)
The League of Legends 2017 World Championship was the completion of the 7th Season of League of Legends. It was held across 4 cities in China. The Wuhan Gymnasium in Wuhan, Hubei hosted the group stages. Guangzhou Gymnasium in Guangzhou hosted the Quarter Finals. The Shanghai Sports Center hosted the Semi-Finals while the Bird's Nest in Beijing hosted the Grand Finals.
Samsung Galaxy won the tournament and $1,855,114 beating SK Telecom in the Final. SK Telecom got $667,841 for their efforts. Royal Never Give Up and Team WE won $346,288 each in the 3rd-4th position.
#6 League of Legends 2016 World Championship - $5,070,000 (League of Legends)
The 2016 World Championships boasted the largest prize pool in League of Legends history. The event had a massive pool of over 5 Million Dollars. The event was held across 4 cities in the United States. The Bill Graham Auditorium in California hosted the Groups. The Chicago Theater hosted the Quarter Finals. The historic Madison Square Garden hosted the Semi-Finals while The Staples Center in Los Angeles hosted the Finals.
SK Telecom won the grand event and took home the largest winning in League history, $2,028,000. Samsung Galaxy placed second winning $760,500. ROX Tigers and H2k Gaming won $380,250 by finishing 3rd and 4th.
#5 The International 2014 - $10,923,977 (Dota 2)
From here on the list becomes monotonous. It is literally different iterations of the same tournament. The International 4 was the 4th edition of Valve's biggest Dota 2 Tournament. The prize pool exceeded 10 Million Dollars thanks to their interactive Compendium. Players can purchase the Compendium and several cosmetic items that come with it in the Dota 2 Game Client. 25% of any purchase they make gets added to the final prize pool.
The International 2014 or TI4 took place in Seattle, USA at the Key Arena. A total of 16 teams attended the event representing players from 16 Nations. The event was won by Chinese team Newbee Gaming. Newbee took home $5,025,029 as prize money. Vici Gaming placed second and won $1,474,737. Evil Geniuses came third and got $1,037,778 for their efforts.
#4 The International 2015 - $18,429,613 (Dota 2)
The 2015 Edition of the International or TI5 boasted an astronomical figure as prize pool. Over 18 Million Dollars was gathered from the Compendium for this particular event. It broke the record of highest Prize Pool in E-Sports for the second year in a row. The Key Arena in Seattle hosted the event once again.
A total of 16 teams competed for the Aegis of Champions, 20 countries were represented in the process. Last year's third placed team Evil Geniuses won the prestigious Aegis of Champions and won $6,634,661. CDEC Gaming came in 2nd place winning $2,856,590 while LGD Gaming came 3rd and won $2,211,554.
#3 The International 2016 - $20,770,460
Again hosted at the Key Arena in Seattle, The International 6 or TI6 again broke the record for the largest prize pool in E-Sports. The fan base came up big again as they added over 18 Million Dollars to the prize pool making it cross 20 Million for the first time in history. The tournament was attended by 16 teams representing a record 22 countries in the process.
Chinese underdogs Wings Gaming shocked the world by winning the tournament and taking home $9,139,002. Another massive underdog, Digital Chaos finished second winning $3,427,126. Evil Geniuses finished in the top 3 for the third year in a row by finishing 3rd and won $2,180,898.
#2 The International 2017 - $24,787,916 (Dota 2)
Hosted in Seattle for the 6th consecutive year, the Key Arena welcomed 18 teams again for TI7. The record prize pool was broken once again as the player base provided enough money to push the pool to over 24 Million Dollars. The number of teams participating was increased from 16 to 18 for this tournament. As a result a record 25 countries were represented again.
Team Liquid won the tournament and were the first team ever to receive over 10 Million Dollars as prize money. They got $10,826,683 in winnings. Newbee finished second and took home $3,950,067 while LGD.Forever Young shocked the world by finishing 3rd and winning $2,598,231.
#1 The International 2018 - $25,532,177 (Dota 2)
The latest edition of The International takes the coveted 1st place. The fan base came up strong again. With many people predicting that TI7's prize pool would remain the highest ever, the player base proved everyone wrong and shattered TI7's record posting a prize pool of over 25 Million Dollars. This is the highest prize pool in the history of The International.
The event was also moved from Seattle for the first time since TI1. The Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada hosted the tournament. The event was attended by 18 teams again who represented 24 countries from all over the world.
OG or Orgless Gaming won the tournament in one of the greatest underdog stories in E-Sports history. For their efforts, OG took home $11,234,158. PSG.LGD Gaming placed second failing to fulfil the Curse of TI where a Chinese team wins every even-numbered TI,(Invictus Gaming at TI2, Newbee at TI4, Wings at TI6) PSG.LGD won $4,085,148 in the process. Evil Geniuses returned to their winning ways again by finishing 3rd a record 3rd time ironically. They won $2,680,879 for their efforts.