Top 5 Biggest
Esports Tournaments

Holly Cowley
Holly Cowley

April 20th, 2022

What are your top Esports tournaments?

Top 5 biggest Esports tournaments
It is no secret that esports has blown up over the past few years with games such as Fortnite exploding in popularity in 2017, or Warzone and Valorant in 2020, undoubtedly making a big impact. The pandemic lockdowns contributed to a huge rise in demand for tournaments, due to people being stuck in their homes with little to nothing to do they turned to video games to seek entertainment and pass the time. However, these ‘new’ games are not solely responsible for tournaments, we also have to credit games such as Counter Strike, League of Legends and Dota 2 to name just a few. All of which played a big part in what esports is today and paved the way for competitive gaming and tournaments. In this week’s dedicated esports blog, we are bringing you a line-up of the Top 5 Biggest Esports Tournaments.

Dota 2 – The International
To kick off this list, this tournament has to be number one. The first event was born in Cologne back in 2011 and drew attention due to its generous prize pool of $1.6 million. The International has now completed 10 annual events, with the prize pool growing even bigger every year. The most recent being a staggering $40 million, making it the biggest ever prize pool for an esports tournament. You may be asking how it is possible they are able to give away this much money? The answer? Crowdfunding. It began in 2013 where 25% of all revenue from an in-game battle pass where players would pay to receive exclusive virtual goods would be contributed towards the prize pool. This has to take the number one spot for a reason and, for us, it isn’t just the money. The viewership is just as, if not even more, important. Without fans esports is nothing. The International 2021 saw 2.74 million people watching at its peak, a crazy number to even fathom and what supports it at number one on our list.

The Fortnite World Cup
Featured previously in Our Top 4 Esports Moments blog, at number two on our list is a fairly recent event that first took place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York in 2019. The Fortnite World Cup was split into two tournaments, a solo player event and a duo event. Both of which consisted of 6 games each with a grand prize of $3 million. Each solo player received $50,000 regardless of placement and each duo team received $100,000. To secure a place in the 100 spots available for either the solo or duo event, players had to compete against 40 million (yes you read that correct) other players from around the, don’t take it personally if you missed out. Over two days the stadium was FULL with 23,700 people inside and had an estimated 2.3 million additional viewers on Twitch and YouTube. The FNWC really raised the bar for tournaments with the longevity, prize pool and prize distribution. On top of this, the tournament had a huge cultural impact surrounding gaming by attracting not only new players and fans but also mainstream media attention, it was this that really built support for esports and prompted gaming to be taken more seriously.

League of Legends – World Championship
Also known as ‘Worlds’, the League of Legends World Championship is a renowned event within the gaming community. Its most recent tournament in 2021 had a peak concurrent viewership of an astonishing 73 million. The previous four years they maintained over 40 million concurrent viewers. This means 2021 saw a 60% increase in concurrent viewers which is monumental growth. Now with a viewership like this, you would expect a prize pool closely comparable to The International. However, the prize pool for the past 3 years has ‘only’ been $2,225,000, which is actually lower than previous events. For this reason, ‘Worlds’ comes in at number 3 just under The Fortnite World Cup.

Honour of Kings World Champion Cup 2021
Sixth in the series and taking place In China, Honour of Kings 2021 takes the place for the 3rd highest prize pool ever for an esports tournament sitting at $7.73 million, $22 million behind Fortnite and $32 million behind Dota’s The International. For us, this event makes it to fourth on our list not only due to the prize pool, but also because it is only available in China, yet has still managed to come closely behind a game like Fortnite which is not only is available on PC, console AND mobile but is also available nearly all-over the world. Yes, Fortnite is still ahead of Honour of Kings, but it just shows the viewership power that the Chinese market has and highlights how important it is to appeal to the region.

PUBG Mobile Global Championship
This one, similar to Honour of Kings, may seem like a bit of an outlier. However, we do have our reasons for why it made it on to our list. To start, lets looks at the stats. In 2021 the tournament had a peak viewership of 3.80 million and the average was over 500,000. These are fantastic numbers for an event that only started in 2020! We should also mention the prize pool, at $6,000,000, it is surprisingly high if you compare it to a tournament like Worlds. Our main reason for this making our list is the fact it is a mobile version of the game and yet still managed to attract a number of viewers that compete with games that are on both PC and console. This begs the question; will we see more games diversify into mobile to cater for this audience?

This concludes our list of the Top 5 Biggest Esports Tournaments. The past few years of esports and gaming has been crazy. We don’t doubt that fresh new games and tournaments will emerge, break these viewership and prize pool records, and keep the space thriving for years to come. With this it will be interesting to see what formats and trends stick around, leave and are introduced. Will mobile be the dominant platform? Will Dota still hold the title for largest prize pool? Only time will tell!