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Biggest prize pool in sporting history

The stage for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship Finals held in the Beijing National Stadium, China - CC BY-SA

There is little to no doubt that esports have grown exponentially in recent years. As the players’ number in the hundreds of millions, so does the audience for professional tournaments. With the spread of the pandemic, 2021 saw mainly online tournaments. However, with the world returning to a new normal, LAN tournaments are gaining popularity. This has also resulted in a rise in prize pools.

The prize pools for mobile games have been continually breaking records as of late. Although prize money has never been the sole factor in determining the prestige of an esports event, it certainly plays a significant role in motivating players to participate. According to Esports Charts, the five top prize pools in esports for the year 2021 are as follows.

League of Legends Worlds 2021

Over 115 million people play League of Legends each year, and there are more than a dozen official leagues across the globe that run for 7 months a year. A popular game such as this also attracts professional tournaments.

The League of Legends World Championship is organized by Riot Games every year. Featuring 24 of the best teams in the world, this tournament offers millions of dollars in prizes. The tournament usually lasts six weeks. However, in recent years it has only lasted one month.

Despite smaller prize pools in recent years, the 2021 League of Legends World Championship still generated a $2.25 million prize pool. With over 174 million total hours watched and a peak audience of more than four million during the grand finals, Worlds 2021 became the most successful esports event in history.

The Six Invitational 2021

Already in its fifth year, the Six Invitational has brought together premier teams from across the world to Paris, France. With an initial prize fund of $500,000 and an extra 30 percent income from all Road to S.I. 2021 Battle Pass purchases, this year’s total prize pool reached $3 million.

The Brazilian region showed its dominance this year. With first, second, third, and fifth-place finishes, Brazil won the majority of the $3 million prize pool, while Ninja in Pyjamas won the $1 million grand prize in the event’s final, defeating Team Liquid 3-2.

Overwatch League 2021

The Overwatch League 2021 playoffs were set for Arlington, Texas’s Esports Stadium. However, COVID forced a change in plans, so the western teams traveled to Hawaii to compete against better-positioned eastern teams. In spite of this less-than-ideal situation, OWL still put up a hefty $3.2 million prize pool.

On September 21, the Overwatch League playoffs began, followed by the 2021 Grand Finals on September 25. There were eight teams participating in the playoffs. With a 4-0 victory, the Shanghai Dragons won the $1.5 million grand finals, defeating the Atlanta Reign.

PUBG Global lnvitational.S 2021

The PUBG Global lnvitational.S 2021, organized by PUBG Corporation, was the world’s longest-running PUBG esports event, spanning eight weeks. The esport took a pause in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only to return in 2021 with a bang.

Outside of TI and the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, the PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 has the highest esports prize pool ever, surpassing $7 million. This year, 32 teams from across the world competed in the tournament. Furthermore, 30 percent of the game’s PGI.S 2021 item revenue will go to the prize pool as well. This effectively doubled the prize pool from the original $3.5 million.

Dota 2 The International 10

Valve Corporation, one of the world’s largest gaming firms, created this esport. That’s why it’s regularly maintained and patched. Throughout the game’s professional level, there is a very active community that participates heavily in the action.

Dota 2’s huge prize pool in tournaments is one of the game’s best characteristics. While its major tournaments usually offer a range of $500,000 to $1 million, the world championship, called the International, has the highest pay among other esports tournaments.

Recently, the International has broken the record for the largest esports prize pool for the second year in a row (excluding 2020, when there was no TI). The prize pool for 2021 was $40 million, breaking the $34.3 million set by TI9 in 2019. Esports teams receive staggering amounts of money for winning, and this year’s winner was awarded $18.2 million.