eSports Prize Pools Keep Getting Bigger In 2023

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Have you boarded the eSports bandwagon yet? Well, you might want to start. eSports competitions are not a fad- they’re here to stay, and the prize-pools keep getting bigger and bigger.

As the world continues to immerse itself in technology, eSports tournaments are more popular than ever. It used to be the case that you could only stream the major events and tournaments via Twitch or Youtube – but now, many major eSports competitions are being broadcasted on mainstream TV networks such as ESPN.

The result: ever-increasing prize pools.

Sure, cash winnings can vary by the tournament. Think of it like horse racing, where different races yield different purses. If you’re running in one of the (many) headlining events, though, you’re potential take-home is going to be lucrative no matter what.
That’s the progression Esports has been following. And the trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing.

Look at the company Epic, for example. The company earmarked $100 million for Fortnite competitive tournaments in 2019. and their competitions aren’t even the most lucrative of the bunch.
That honor still belongs to DOTA2´s “The International” tournament, – an event that boasted a prize pool north of $30 million in 2019, up from the $25.5 million in 2018, $24.6 million in 2017, $20.8 million in 2016 and $18.4 million in 2015.

This purse is mostly crowdfunded, but that doesn’t make the ascent unsustainable. The rise of Twitch, a social media channel that enables streamers to make money from those watching their feeds, has shown that people will continue to pay to view their favorite players. There will always be a market for these types of events.

At the same time, big business is angling for a piece of the eSports cake.

If you take a closer look at the picture, Dota 2’s “The International “ has a bigger prize pool than the Super Bowl, the Cricket World Cup, and the Master’s Tournament in Golf, amongst others.

According to, corporations already pay pro eSports players plenty in endorsements, and in recent years, North American sports leagues have joined the party, and even sports betting sites are even offering betting odds for popular eSports tournaments.

Let’s look at eSports and the NBA.

Pretty much every NBA franchise now has its own eSports team. There is a draft for these players, they sign contracts, they land endorsements, they travel, they can be traded and everything.
The inaugural prize pool for the ‘NBA 2K League,’ founded in 2018, was $1 million. This year, it rose to $1.2 million, and players are paid an annual salary on top of that earning potential.

Expect salaries and prize pools in eSports to continue their ascent.

It won’t be long before we’re talking about a tournament that promises $50-plus million in available winnings. Seriously.
Furthermore, the English Premier League (the top competition in English soccer) has professional FIFA gamers representing their clubs. Back in 2019, the FIFA eWorld Cup or the FIFA Interactive World Cup event took place. This was a tournament organized by FIFA along with EA Sports. The winner, Mohhamed Harkous from Germany won a quarter of a million dollars!

Now, let’s take a look at eSports’ biggest competition prizes.

1. Fortnite

Fortnite had a major tournament in 2019 where the prize pool for the whole event was a whopping $100 million across four tournaments. You might have heard the news that a 16 y/o kid Kyle Giersdorf took home $3 million in prize money.
Well, little do you know but the tournament had other categories where people won $17 and $15 million respectively. Epic Games made a pledge of $100 million for the entire tournament.

2. The International Dota 2

We talked briefly about International, but its importance to eSports is without a doubt the most important one. The first International had a prize pool of $1.6 million, pledged by Valve.
It was the first major eSports tournament with such high competition prizes and was the beginning of it all. Since then, there have been eight more such tournaments across four countries. The majority were held in Seattle, whilst others included Vancouver, Shanghai, Cologne, and this year’s host, Stockholm.
Competition prizes for The International include $1.6 million, $2.9 million, $10 million, $18 million, $20 million, $24 million, $25 million, and last year’s impressive $34 million.
The International 2019 was won by OG, and they took home almost half of the prize money, a whopping $15 million. Also, OG is highly regarded as the richest eSports team ever across all games and platforms, having won dozens of tournaments and total prize money of $32 million!

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Another game by Valve, CS: GO is the most popular eSports game out there. This is mainly due to its predecessor CS 1.6, but the revolutionary CS: GO has been the pillar of the gaming scene for years and years.
CS: GO has the third-highest competition prizes in eSports, despite seeing a cut of 220 tournaments across the entire 2019 as opposed to 2018.

However, the big one, the CS: GO Majors are a collection of multiple tournaments across the year that are deemed as “the big ones”.
These include tournaments such as DreamHack, EMS, ESL, MLG, PGL, ELEAGUE, FACEIT, Intel Extreme Masters, and StarLadder. Across the whole of 2019, as opposed to a single tournament like Dota 2, the total prize money for all tournaments was $21 million.
We should note that Dota 2 has more tournaments than just The International.


PUBG was one of the most popular games in 2018 and sparked a revolutionary movement of battle royale games.
The sheer popularity of the game called for a tournament to be held by the South Korean makers of the game. So, the PUBG Global Championship took place, and the initial competition prize was $6 million.

The tournament included 32 teams battling for the ultimate prize, the “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner”.
The tournament took place in Oakland, California, and the winners, Gen.G Esports took home $2 million, while the 2nd placed Faze Clan won $600,000.