Online gaming can bring huge rewards for those that can rise to the top of their chosen game. However, when it comes to choosing eSports that you want to play professionally, there are different incentives such as salary and prize pool. In terms of these incentives, how much a gap does the LoL Prize pool have without other eSports titles?
The LoL Prize Pool
Increasingly, online gaming is getting more exposure, not least through 2020 courtesy of restrictions imposed upon free movement. Instead of watching physical sports, fans have turned to online spectacles for their fix. Whilst online gaming is far from new, the renewed interest and focus over the last 12 months has seen it become much more mainstream.
As with any competition, a player’s aim is to rise to the very top of their chosen title and secure the fame and fortune that brings with it. The most successful online gamer of all time is Johan Sundstein, known as N0tail, who has secured career winnings of around $6.89m.
How does the LoL prize pool compare with that amount of money, and against other eSports titles? The LoL prize pool isn’t the biggest in the eSports industry, far from it, and many LoL organizations do not divulge the salaries of their players, so tournament winnings are the only barometer by which we can judge. The most famous LoL player of them all, Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok, has career earnings in the region of $1.3m, thanks to three World Championship and MSI titles.
Other Esports Prize Pools
Fortnite is another of the games offering big rewards, with American competitor Kyle Giersdorf, aka Bugha, having taken $3.1m throughout his career. Austria’s David Wang, also known as Aqua, is the fifth-highest earner of 202 with prizes of $106k, topping up his career earnings of $1.9m. Bugha secured the Fortnite World Cup in 2019, winning the tournament after three sold-out days at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. He was just 16 at the time and his huge prize was just a small slice of a whopping $30m prize pot. The game has become a cultural phenomenon and raised $2.4bn in revenue for Epic Games.
Another game that generates huge sums for the developer is FIFA, the yearly soccer franchise. FIFA is one of the most recognized and universally played games around the globe, attracting millions of casual players every year. It is thought to generate around $1.4bn per year for Electronic Arts, primarily through the Ultimate Team mode which it uses as the basis for its eSport competitions.
Despite the big sums it generates for the developer, it lags a long way behind in terms of overall prize money. Bwin’s ‘eSoccer Explained’ guide reveals that the FIFA eWorld Cup has a prize fund of $500k, a relatively small amount when compared to the likes of Dota 2. The top player currently is TekKz, real name Donovan Hunt with career earnings of around $378k, whilst MSdossary is the highest earner of all time, with $550k in prize money.
With controversy around the loot box mechanic which sees some players spending up to $14k just to build a team worthy of competing, FIFA could find itself held back in the overall stakes. Curiously, FIFA 20 was only the 62nd most lucrative eSport of all time, behind earlier releases. FIFA 19, unaffected by the restrictions imposed upon gamers in 2020, was still only the 30th most lucrative, behind the likes of Apex Legends, World of Tanks and CrossFire.
Counter-Strike Global Offensive is behind Dota 2 in terms of prize money, but ahead of both League of Legends and Fortnite, as the second most lucrative game for prizes. The biggest earners are all Danish players, with Peter Rasmussen aka Dupreeh, on $1.79m, narrowly ahead of fellow countrymen Andreas Hojsleth, Nicolai Reedtz, Lukas Rossander and Emil Reif. Collectively, the five have won $8.3m predominately during their time with Astralis.
Another title offering good rewards is Overwatch, another squad-based shooter. It is hugely popular with Korean gamers, although individual prizes are much smaller than the other titles. The most decorated player, Dong Jun Kim, has earned $331k in prize money. Of the top 20 Overwatch earners worldwide, only three are from outside South Korea, with Americans Grant Espe and Matthew DeLisi taking $314k and $312k, respectively. The only European player in the top 20 is Sweden’s Andreas Karlsson, aka Nevix, with $180k.
Winning competitions is not the only way a gamer can generate revenue, and with the industry’s popularity on the increase, there is opportunity everywhere. Twitch streaming is another valuable source of income for gamers, with gamers such as Ninja, also known as Richard Blevins, amassing 16.4m followers and generating 500m total views on the platform. He was also a huge draw on YouTube, where he has 24.1m followers and 2.33b views, all of which started with him playing Halo 3 back in 2009.