Many video game players around the world have crossed the bridge from playing “just for fun” to playing competitively, earning money and gaining a solid reputation through lucrative tournaments. These esports competitions not only occur virtually, but can also be in-person events that draw crowds of hundreds of thousands and prize pots reaching several million dollars.
Here are some of the world’s biggest, most popular video game tournaments.
Game: DOTA 2
Prize Pot: $34 million dollars
Created in 2011, The International is one of the longest running video game tournaments, as well as one of the biggest. The tournament is for the game “DOTA 2” (Defense of the Ancients 2), a multiplayer online battle arena style game. Around a quarter of its very large winning pot of $35 million is crowdfunded by those making certain qualifying in-game purchases that go toward the tournament’s fund. The final champion also receives a trophy called the “Aegis of Champions,” shaped like a shield. The International takes place in different hosting cities worldwide, including Seattle, Vancouver B.C., and Shanghai. Coverage is streamed via Twitch.
Fortnite World Cup
Prize Pot: $30 million dollars
Location: New York
The Fortnite World Cup is a new tournament, with the first event taking place in 2019. Around 350 million registered player accounts were created in 2020, making “Fortnite” the world’s most popular video game. The game’s popularity is also due to its free-to-play model and battle royale style gameplay. Even though the tournament is new, they’ve already managed to create a prize pot of approximately $30 million dollars. The Fortnite World Cup is split into two different categories: the single player event and the team event, as well as smaller classifications including creative building competitions.
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LoL World Championship
Game: League of Legends
Prize Pot: $6 million dollars
The LoL World Championship is for players of the battle arena game “League of Legends,” and the championship is a team-based competition. Winners earn part of the $6 million prize pot as well as a trophy called the “Summoner’s Cup.” This trophy weighs approximately 70 pounds, which emphasizes the games’ focus on teamwork — it will take the entire team to carry it rather than just one individual. The tournament’s prize pot is partially crowdfunded, with different in-game purchases year round going toward the winning pot. The LoL World Championship moves through different host cities across the world, including Beijing, California, Shanghai, and Seoul.
PUBG Global Championship
Game: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
Prize Pot: $5 million dollars
PlayerUnknown’s Battleground (PUBG) is a popular video game similar to Fortnite. In fact, it even rose to popularity on its battle royale platform before Fortnite mesmerized the masses. Since PUBG isn’t free-to-play, its reach isn’t quite as far as the Fortnite Championship when it comes to gaming events — but it is still a major contender. PUBG raises most of its $5 million prize pot through special in-game store items, with 25% of qualifying items going toward the tournament fund. The PUBG Global Championship is in team format, with an elimination bracket style setup.
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Prize Pot: $3 million dollars
Location: Various U.S. cities
Overwatch League is a slightly different type of tournament than most on this list. This tournament is actually a combination of several different “Overwatch” tournaments played out over the year in various locations, with teams based out of (and named for) different U.S. cities. These playoffs and championships can raise impressive pots, most recently up to $3 million.
Call of Duty League Playoffs
Game: Call of Duty
Prize Pot: $1.2 million
Location: Various/Los Angeles, California
The Call of Duty League Playoffs began in 2017, and follows a similar format to Overwatch League, where different tournaments are hosted throughout the country, before culminating in a championship event. The 2020 season was held online rather than in-person because of COVID, and hosted 12 teams. Final playoffs for the 2021 season will take place on August 19-22, at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA. Winners get the championship trophy, as well as their share of the impressive $1.2 million prize pot.
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Counter-Strike Global Offensive Major Championships
Game: Counter-Strike Global Offensive
Prize Pot: $2 million
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
The first championships for this extremely popular first-person shooter game took place in Sweden in 2013, with a prize pool of $250,000. Its popularity skyrocketed and the prize pot is now up to $2 million. The Counter-Strike Global Offensive Major Championships follows a Swiss-system group stage setup, which divides teams up into four pots based on skill and randomly pairs them off in an elimination-style bracket. The next championship will take place in Stockholm October 28-November 7th, 2021.
FIFA EWorld Cup
Prize Pot: $500,000
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the FIFA EWorld Cup holds the record for the largest esports tournament event, hosting 7 million participants in 2017. This event is open to everyone (with an open qualifying format), is cross-console friendly, and available to stream on Youtube, Twitch, and even on some TV channels. After the initial online stages, the FIFA EWorld Cup grand finals have 32 players competing in a multi-day event. The 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID, but the 2021 FIFA EWorld Cup will be hosted in London on August 6 through August 8.
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