Esports tournaments have become definitive for who the greatest gamers are. More and more people are pushing for a career in this industry, and more people flock to watch matches and tournaments.
Global Esports Market’s 2020 study mentioned that about 885 major esports events were held in 2019. They generated $56.3M in ticket revenue.
What started as an obscure event decades ago is now followed by millions. In 2019, around 397.8 million people were watching esports tournaments.
Newzoo’s study concluded that the esports industry will reach $1.6 billion in 2024, predicting a CAGR of 11.1%. The market value of esports during 2021 was $947.1 million.
With that said, let’s dive deep into the most popular esports tournaments in the world.
Highest Paying Esports Tournaments
Esports tournaments are high-stakes spectacles for fans and players.
The prize pool for these tournaments comes from several sources. Some contests channel the revenue gained from the games. Organizations and game distributors fund others, while some are community-funded.
The prize pool for these games usually ranges from the thousands to millions. It is generally fought for by teams worldwide.
Below are some of the esports tournaments’ biggest prize pools in recent years:
The International 11 (DOTA 2): $18,930,256
(Dotesports, Esports Earnings, ES Charts)
Winner: Tundra Esports, Runner-Up: Team Secret
The TI is an excellent example of what a gaming community can achieve. The tournament is DOTA 2’s biggest stage for competition and prize money. TI 2022 had a prize pool of $18,930,256.00.
Twenty teams worldwide competed for TI 11 from Oct 8-30, 2022. The finals commenced at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, where Tundra Esports won their first Aegis of Champions, taking home $8,518,800 (45% of the prize pool).
Since 2013, the prize pool for The International has been crowdfunded from the game’s battle pass system. Its largest prize amounted to $40,018,400.00 (TI 10, 2021).
TI is the culmination of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC). The tournament has been produced by Valve ever since its inception in 2012.
Honor of Kings International Championship 2022 (Honor of Kings/ Arena of Valor): $10,000,000
(Liquipedia, Arab Hardware)
Winner: EStar Pro Gaming, Runner-up: Gank Gaming
The Honor of Kings KIC 2022 was one of mobile gaming’s most profitable tournaments ever. KIC is Honor of Kings’ ultimate competition. Its 2022 contest had a prize pool of $10,000,000.
Level Infinite and VSPN organized the KIC 2022. It was held throughout December 2022 in Shenzen, China (for KPL teams) and in Seoul, South Korea (for non-KPL teams).
eStar Pro won the tournament for $3,500,000, and HuaHai (eStar’s jungler) won the MVP award. Gank Gaming finished 2nd for $1,300,000.
Honor of Kings is a direct Chinese variant of Arena of Valor. The mobile game is one of China’s biggest esports games.
PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2022 (PUBG Mobile): $4,000,000
(Liquipedia, Statista, ES Charts)
Winner: S2G Esports, Runner-up: DRS Gaming
With a $4,000,000 prize pool, the PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2022 is one of Esports’ highest-paying tournaments for 2022. It doubled the amount from the inaugural championships in 2020.
The mobile tournament started in November 2022 at the Battle Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contested by the top PUBG mobile gamers worldwide.
The tournament concluded at the Jakarta International Expo on January 6-8, 2023. Turkey’s S2G Esports won the PMGC 2022 for $521,000. S2G went through 18 rounds against 16 teams and amassed 190 points.
KRAFTON, Level Infinite, and VSPN organized the PMGC 2022.
Peacekeeper Elite League Spring 2022 (Peacekeeper Elite): $4,107,309
(Liquipedia, Esports Earnings)
Winner: Regans Gaming, Runner-Up: Four Angry Men
The PESL 2022 was an S-Tier Peacekeeper Elite tournament that boasted a ¥27,500,000 ($4,107,309) prize pool. Peacekeeper Elite is China’s version of the PUBG Mobile game.
The tournament organizers were Tencent Games, LQS, and VSPN. The finals happened at the Xi’an Olympic Sports Center on May 22, 2022.
Twenty-one of the best teams in China competed for PELS 2022. Regans Gaming came out on top to win ¥9,510,000 ($1,420,382.20) by gaining 211 points in 20 rounds.
The tournament win also allowed RSG to compete in the PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2022. RSG placed 6th in the world invitational with 143 points for $80,000.
Riyadh Masters 2022 (DOTA 2): $4,200,000
(Esports Earnings, ES Charts)
Winner: PSG.LGD, Runner-Up: Team Spirit
The Riyadh Masters 2022 was a non-DPC DOTA 2 tournament with a prize pool of $4,200,000. The tournament was one of the biggest DOTA 2 tourneys not produced by Valve or ESL.
The games were held at the Boulevard Riyadh City from July 20 – 24, 2022.
DOTA 2 fan-favorites, PSG.LGD won the masters to take home $1,500,000. Their offlaner, Faith_bian, won the MVP award ($100,000). Team Spirit placed second for $750,000.
Ten teams competed in the tournament organized by the Saudi Esports Federation and Gamer8 Esports.
Most Followed and Watched Esports Tournaments
Esports tourneys are must-watch spectacles. These tournaments allow the fans to watch their favorite teams compete. The contests also enable the audience to witness the highest levels of competition and learn more about the game.
Fans experience the games played at their peak and witness unforgettable, clippable, and memeable gaming moments.
It is why esports tournaments are this big today—because of the fans’ and players’ passion and love for their games.
Below are some of the most recently followed and watched esports tournaments.
2022 World Championship (League of Legends): 5,147,701 Peak Viewers
(Reuters, Liquipedia, ES Charts, Escore News)
Winner: DRX, Runner-up: T1
The LoL 2022 World Championship, or Worlds 2022, amassed 5,147,701 Peak Viewers. The tournament saw an average of 987,437 viewers across its almost 144-hour airtime.
Online viewers also saw Worlds 2022. 2.8 million viewers watched the games on Riot Games’ official account on Twitch. Around 1.7 million tuned in to watch the games on their YouTube channel.
Riot Games hosted the tournament from September 29 – November 5, 2022.
The finals of the Worlds 2022 was held at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California. Around 18,000 fans attended the game between DRX and T1.
Twenty-four teams competed in the tournament, with Team DRX becoming the winner to lift the esteemed Summoner’s Cup. The team also took home $489,500.
The viewership records for this event broke the record from the previous LoL Worlds Championship 2021 by more than a million.
M4 World Championship (Mobile Legends): 4,270,270 Peak Viewers
(Dexerto, ES Charts, Esports Insider)
Winner: ECHO, Runner-up: Blacklist International
The MLBB M4 World Championship peaked with around 806,660 average viewers in its 15-day tournament. It ran from January 1-15, 2023. With more than 4.26 million viewers at its peak, the contest became esports’ third most-watched event.
Moonton, the game’s developer, organized the tournament.
The M4 was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first venue was the Bali United Studio (Group Stage). The play-off venue was the Tennis Indoor Stadium Senayan.
The tournament saw 16 of the world’s best ML teams compete to become MLBB World Champions for 2022.
The final match-up saw reigning champs, ECHO Philippines, defend their title against Blacklist International. ECHO swept the series 4-0 to win their first MLBB World Championship, netting $300,000.
PGL Major Antwerp 2022 (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive): 2,113,610 Peak Viewers.
(ES Charts, Liquipedia)
Winner: FaZe Clan, Runner-up: Natus Vincere
An average of 586,218 CS:GO fans tuned in to watch the PGL’s 2022 Antwerp Major. The tournament peaked at 2,113,610 viewers during the final match between FaZe Clan and NaVi.
PGL organized and produced the event hosted at the Sportpaleis, Antwerp, Belgium, from May 9-22, 2022.
The Antwerp Major saw 24 teams compete. FaZe Clan came on top to win $500,000. The team also gained 1,800 points for the CS:GO pro tournament.
The contest became the second most-watched CS:GO tourney, garnering over 67 million hours of watch time.
Esports gamers treat their tournaments as the most critical career moments. The contests culminate all the minor and significant matches across the esports scene.
Fans await these tournaments as much as the players do. They dedicate time, effort, and money to attend or watch (online) these events.
As an esports fan, I know that most of the greatest gaming moments happen during tournaments. It is why the tournaments are so essential for the esports world.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average duration of an esports match?
Depending on the game, esports matches usually last 15-60 minutes.
What is the most challenging esports game?
DOTA 2 and Starcraft II are the most complex and challenging games to play and master. Their mechanics are tedious, and there are countless ways to play each match.
What was the first big esports tournament?
The Space Invaders Championship 1980 was the world’s first significant eSports tournament. William Salvador Heineman won the tournament.