eSports By the Numbers
Far from the cramped LAN parties of yesteryear, the professional-level eSports competition of today is enormous, and worth many millions of dollar annually. With that in mind, we want to put some figures on these facts, to help quantify where eSports currently stands, and just how far it has come.
eSports has Arrived
Perhaps the most indicative way to know whether a sport has made it comes through the involvement of the legal gambling industry. This being the case, we can officially make the case that professional gaming has arrived, as eSports gambling was worth around $6.7 billion in 2018 alone, with streaming sites such as Twitch being a major driver behind this growth. This relationship extends much further, as online gambling games have entered the streaming sphere as a major force themselves. CasinoGrounds, an active casino streaming hub, has over 21,000 members from all over the world. Originating in Europe, the popularity of this sector is growing in the US and Canada, with both viewers and streamer numbers still on the uptake.
What About the Winnings?
Of course, for players of more traditional video games, prize money tends to come from tournament performance. Unsurprisingly, the amount of money on offer from these tournaments also correlates extremely well with the popularity of the played games. The bigger the audience, the more money to draw from.
As it currently stands, the undisputed king of eSports winning potential comes from DOTA 2. According to eSports Earnings, this game has already offered over $179 million in prize money as of May 2019. The biggest prize pools come from The International, the largest dedicated DOTA 2 gaming tournament held each year. Back in 2011, the total prize pool for that year’s tournament sat at $1.6 million. Still on an upward trend, the 2018 competition offered a total prize pool over $25.5 million.
Finding viewership numbers for this game is difficult, as the streams are split over both official and non-official commentators. While recent numbers have peaked at over nearly 15 million for the official streams, a fan-based stream from Russian-speaking EvilArthas generated around 70,000 by itself.
When it comes to non-team games, the biggest around is currently StarCraft II. With over $30 million in prizes offered so far, this may not measure up to the likes of DOTA 2 – but then nothing does.
The biggest tournament winnings for StarCraft II were tied in 2017 and 2018, where the World Championship Series offered $700,000 in total prizes. Up from $250,000 in 2012, this is again an enormous growth, with last year’s champion Serral bringing home $280,000 for his efforts.
Only on the Rise
It’s not just these two examples that have shown significant expansion, as eSports gaming as a whole has been seeing an immense upward trend over the last decade. Now with the eSports economy expected to top $1 billion for the first time ever in 2019, there is no telling what the next decade could bring. With higher levels of engagement than ever before, and infrastructure increasingly capable of taking the load, there is no end in sight for this digital form of professional sports.