Not so long ago, it was nearly impossible to make a living playing games. Players of all types had to work full-time jobs and settle for playing for fun as a hobby after hours. Winning the biggest bingo jackpot is something you can only do when you’re not on time. Winning a gaming tournament was something you could do on weekends, and while you might have had bragging rights, you wouldn’t have received much else as a reward. These days, eSports are a whole different beast. Not only can the best of the best win huge cash prizes, people who aren’t necessarily competitive-level gamers can also make money in the streaming games business and working with brands.
If being the best of the best in eSports gaming is the path you want to take, you’ll need to log many hours of practice and perfection. If you reach the upper echelons of gaming royalty, you and your team could be in line to win cash prizes of up to US$6 million. Now let’s see which are the highest paying eSports tournaments.
StarCraft: Blood War
Since 1998, Activision Blizzard has been holding cash prize events for this gaming behemoth. There have been 117 tournaments so far and a grand total of $5,246,860 for winning players. The very first cash prize ever awarded was $16,200 in November 1998. It was won by Jason Severson. The largest total cash prize that has been awarded in all tournaments so far is $126,451, which was awarded in 2007; $54,500, which Kim Taek Young won.
Defense of the Ancients is one of the most beloved MMO games in gaming history. In total, DOTA 2 tournaments have given away over $9.1 million in cash prizes: that’s an incredible amount to give away to play a video game really, really well! We know, of course, that it’s more than being good at a game: it’s a lifestyle. The international DOTA 2 tournament has the highest prize pool of any tournament in esports history. Even before the official release of the game, the tournament took place and made a lot of waves in the scene.
Although DOTA 2 has the record for the biggest prize awarded at one time, Counter-Strike tournaments have given away a small fortune in prizes since they first started popping up. If you are a professional Counter-Strike player, in the last fifteen years you have been in line to win a game totaling $9,809,841. The peak of their lavish generosity was in the summer of 2003 when they handed out $200,000 in prizes.
Activision Blizzard knows a good thing when it sees it and never misses an opportunity. With the success of the first StarCraft, they knew the market was ripe for a sequel, and the pros were ready to take on the challenge of StarCraft 2. Since the game’s release in 2010, the gaming gods have gifted a total of 11,941 $954 cold hard cash to the best players in the world. The largest single prize pool of any tournament was $250,000 in total in 2012.
League of Legends
In terms of total prize money, League of Legends certainly takes the cake. In 2010, the World Cyber Games LOL pot was $10,000, and Counter-Logie rushed to snatch it. It was the Season 3 World Championship prize pool that really blew everyone’s mind: $2,050,000 in total. The top prize in this event was taken by SK Telecom T1, which is no stranger to victory: it did so again recently at an All-Stars event in France. At the world championships, they won a whopping million dollars to split between them.
It’s true; the odds of average games reaching the big leagues are pretty slim. But isn’t it nice to dream? With such prizes, these professional tournaments will make people dream until the end of the world.