2019 was an amazing year for the esports world — it continued to grow and this year there were nearly 5,000 tournaments with a total prize pool of over $230 million dollars. In 2018, prize pools totaled $163 million dollars, so this year they grew by 29 percent. This year’s record was set when the Dota 2 World Championship handed out $34 million to The International 2019 players. This is the biggest prize-winning tournament in the history of esports.
This fan-generated prize pool won over even the steepest Fortnite World Championship, which handed out $30 million dollars. It was a real hassle to get into the top ten esports games this year and most of the games on this list have been on the list before. But there were three new esports disciplines on the charts and for the first time in many years, we had a new first-place winner.
# 10 – Rainbow Six Siege – $ 4.1 million (2018: 14th place, $ 1.9 million)
This first-person shooter released by Ubisoft based on novels by author Tom Clancy. We can see this name for the first time in the top ten. The main reason this game went up several positions was their professional league prize pool increase from $162 thousand to $292 thousand dollars in 2019. Of course, the biggest weights were the Six Invitational in Montreal with a prize pool of $2 million dollars.
# 9 – Arena of Valor – $ 5.8 million (2018: 8th place, $ 5.1 million)
Another year as we see this esports discipline on the charts. The game is played five on five on a given map, released by the huge Chinese company Tencent. This year, they boasted big tournament prize pools: the King Pro League Spring Tournament and the Honor of the Kings World Championship Cup handed out $ 1.3 million and $ 2 million, respectively.
This mobile game is very popular in the Asian regions, but it is not successful in Western countries. This year, rumors spread that Tencent would no longer support the game in North America and Europe due to declining players in those regions. This has not happened yet, but it is possible in the coming months of 2020.
#8 – Call of Duty – $ 6.51 million (2018: 25th place, $ 640K)
The Call of Duty World League was a game-changing tournament with leagues in the United States, Europe, Asia. Teams shared cash prizes based on their performance at each stop. This model ensured that the teams had a steady income, but the biggest cash value was the CWL Championship, where teams shared $ 2 million. and CWL Pro League Finals $ 1.2 million dollars. It is planned to create a franchise league in this discipline in 2020, to be run by Activision Blizzard. There will be $6 million in this league’s prize pool.
#7 – Magic: The Gathering – $ 8.89 million (2018: 42nd place, $ 200K)
This year saw the game Magic: The Gathering Arena, a revitalized card game for 25 years with new designs and changes to the rules of professional play. For the first time in history, Wizards of the Coast and their parent company Hasbro have invested multimillion dollars in professional stage development and digital product development. With this new format came new investments in the esports scene. This has revitalized the game’s viewability on streaming platforms. With all these changes and a stable platform, we can expect great results from Magic in the coming years.
# 6 – League of Legends – $ 9.02 million (2018: 4th place, $ 14.5M)
The first member of the 2018 Big Four to be listed this year is League of Legends. The game has been around for ten years, but it continues to beat records. The League of Legends World Championship 2019 has seen as many as 44 million live views at one time. Also, looking at these numbers, it seems like the game is not dying, but rather growing to new heights.
Also, Riot Games is expanding its gaming universe and preparing to release new games in various esports genres. Everyone was also surprised by the announcement that a mobile version of the League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics will be created, which will pull many players into the Riot Games ecosystem. The League of Legends prize pools may not be the fastest-growing in esports, but the expansion of this company will mean that in general they will only increase their influence and place in esports.
* At the time of publishing, the amount to be added to the World Cup prize pool, which includes revenues generated by in-game skins for game players, was not announced.
#5 – Overwatch – $ 9.11 million (2018: 6th place, $ 6.6M)
This year Blizzard has risen to one position and is in fifth place. Blizzard added at each stage of the 2019 league, raising $ 3.5 million dollars throughout 2019. But the Contender League, which aims to grow talent and serve as a lower division in a franchise-based professional league, has attracted the most attention. Millions of dollars invested in the Contenders League, China has handed out $500,000 in the first and second seasons winners, while the North American, South American and European leagues’ general fund totaled $1.6 million dollars.
This is the last year we will see this particular game, with the release of a new part of this game in 2020 — Overwatch 2.
#4 – PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS – $ 12.7 million (2018: 5th place, $ 7.7 million)
The Battle Royale genre did not disappoint us in 2019 either. It continues to grow the community of esports and the game itself. PUBG Global Championship raised $5.9 million dollar prize pool. The World Cup was the last event of the 2019 World Championship series where we were able to watch the 32 best teams in the world in this discipline.
The finals were held at Oakland Arena, California. 2020 looks even more exciting as the league announces the addition of three new events to accompany the World Cup.
#3 – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $ 21.1 million (2018: 2nd place, $ 22.6M)
The leader of the FPS (First Person Shooter) genre has fallen by one position since last year. The main reason is the decrease in the overall prize pool and tournaments throughout the year. There were 832 tournaments in 2018 and 612 this year. The biggest tournaments handed out similar amounts of money as last year, but there were definitely 220 lost tournaments in 2019. While the game is criticized for its principle and some graphic images, which may seem brutal, it continues to be one of the leaders in the entire esports industry.
#2 – Dota 2 – $ 46.7 million (2018: 1st place, $ 41.4 million)
After losing their lead, Dota 2 still has something to be proud of as their World Championship this year had the largest prize pool ever in the esports industry, with 34 million dollars. Also, this year’s Dota 2 reached the highest annual viewership in game history. The World Cup was the most-watched event in the history of the Dota game series.
The five members of the OG team that won the World Championship immediately rose to the top of the most earning esports players of all time.
# 1 – Fortnite – $ 64.42 million (2018: 3rd place, $ 20M)
The new season of Fortnite 2019 was clearly the year of the Fortnite game created by Epic Games. When the game’s developers announced that their game will receive as much as $ 100 million in prize money, most esports organizations have begun to look for their place in the Fortnite world.
The four-day World Cup, which crowned the winner of Solo Championship winner Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, who brought home $ 3 million dollars. This young man became a big star in a second and was well received by traditional media. In addition to the $ 30 million set up by the World Cup prize, Epic Games handed out millions in other tournaments: Fortnite Champion Series, Skirmish Series, Twitchcon, etc.
Also, the Winter Royale Duos tournament, which attracted $ 15 million, has just ended. Given the game’s growing popularity this year, big prize pools are expected to continue to surprise next year as well.