If you want to make a living from sport, esports could be the best way to go about it. New research shows that prize funds in the rapidly growing world of gaming now exceed many of the world’s most well-known championships.
According to the most recent data, the winning team at last year’s esports tournament The International Dota 2 took home a huge purse of more than $9m, with the League of Legends World Championship victors receiving in excess of $2m.
While the world of competitive esports still trails some way behind football’s UEFA Champions League – winners Real Madrid received €15.5m last year – many gamers are now matching the prizes received by some of the world’s most famous sportsmen.
An analysis of recent prize funds showed that those at the pinnacle of their sports, such as the winners of golf’s British Open, snooker’s World Championship and the Emirates FA Cup, all received pay checks less that those winning the major esports tournaments.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jo Konta and Henrik Stenson have become millionaires thanks to their success, and esports now has its own global superstars with five players from the Chinese Wings Gaming team raking in almost $2m each in prizes alone.
On a global level, the rest of the world lags behind the likes of China, the USA and Korea, whose players accumulated more than $47m between them in last year alone. The UK has a small pool of around 600 professional gamers – those who have made money from entering online and offline tournaments – who pocketed a total of $2m.
Mercè Delgado, CEO of Fluendo, who recently launched RiftAnalyst – a tool to help gamers improve their strategy and ability – commented: “Despite having the fourth most active professional gamers in the world, the UK is not achieving its full potential.
“As with all sports, staying on top of your game requires dedication and we’re seeing teams employ coaches and physiotherapists, even focusing on improving their diet, all to improve their game. Players who are serious about winning tournaments need to use every tool at their disposal to improve, regardless of which esport they are playing.
“Esports is now a lucrative profession and that is reflected in the increased amounts of prize money on offer. It’s only a matter of time before some of the world’s leading gamers start to feature among the wealthiest sportsmen in the world.”
|Tournament||Total prize fund||Winner|
|Golf – British Open (men)||£6,500,000||£1,175,000|
|Darts – PDC World Championship||£1,650,000||£350,000|
|Football – FA Cup||£15,132,000||£1,800,000|
|Football – Champions League||€761,900,000||€15,500,000|
|Horse racing – Grand National||£1,000,000||£561,300|
|Tennis – Wimbledon (men or women)||£10,856,000||£2,000,00|
|Snooker – World Championship||£1,750,00||£375,000|
|Cricket – T20 Blast||£2,000,000||£1,200,000|
|Cycling – Tour de France||£2,295,850||£500,000|
|Athletics – London Marathon||£313,000||£55,000|
|Tournament||Total prize fund ($)||Winner ($)|
|Esports – The International||20,770,640||9,139,002|
|Esports – League of Legends World Championship||5,070,000||2,028,000|
|Esports – Halo World Championship||2,500,000||1,000,000|
Top earners globally (2016)
|Country||Player id||Name||2016 earnings|
UK player earnings (2016)
|Player id||Name||2016 earnings|