2019’s Top Rated ESports: A Top-10 List

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In 2018, the Esports industry awarded approximately $163 million to Esport competitors. In 2019 however, we saw a massive increase. $211 million across 4000 tournaments. That’s incredible. These are statistics usually only seen from traditional sports. Dota 2 set records that sent a shockwave across the industry. Their championship game’s prize pool was an insane $34 million. That’s 4 million higher than Fortnight by Epic Games.

To highlight the massive success of the Esports industry and everyone involved, we’ve put together a top 10 list of the best Esport games. Each item’s placement on this list is in regards to how much they paid out for their final tournaments.

Tenth Place – Rainbow Six Siege

In tenth place is the fan favorite entitled Rainbow Six Siege. With a pay out of $4.1 million in 2019, the game saw an incredible boost from last year. 2018’s Rainbow Six Siege only brought in $1.9 million.

Rainbow Six Siege is a first-person shooter known for its intense strategy and tactical gameplay. The game saw several tournaments throughout nineteen, with a few in the pro league bringing in about 300k all on their own. The tournament that laid the number 10 flag for this game was called Six Invitational. A tournament taking place in Montreal that had a prize pool of over 2 million dollars.

In 2016, Rainbow Six Siege was in 24th place. In 2018 they were in 14th, and now they’re in 10th. Many expect that Rainbow Six Siege will move even farther up in 2020.

Ninth Place – Arena of Valor

In ninth place, we have a game popularly known as Arena of Valor. This particular Esport brought in $5.8 million this year. A substantial increase from the $5.1 million that the game brought in in 2018.

Arena of Valor is a mobile game and is known to be a MOBA. For those who don’t know, MOBA is short for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Typically games involve 5 on 5s and have some sort of objective system. The two tournaments that gave Arena of Valor their ninth place win are the King Pro League Tournaments in the spring, as well as the Honor of Kings World Championships.

Unfortunately, the future of this game is still highly debated. The game does not have a large following in North and South America, and because of this, Tencent (the creator of the game) is contemplating removing support for the game from North and South America. It’s currently unclear as to their decision making process, or when they’ll make the decision, but for not everything’s up in the air.

Eighth Place – Call of Duty

This particular addition to the list brought in 6.51 million dollars in prize money. Activision’s game is what many call a first-person shooter type of game. Lots of strategy, lots of tactical maneuvers, and lots of teamwork. This particular Esport was a set of traveling tournaments. Teams would travel all over the world and would receive cash prizes based on their performance. The big money makers were the CWL, at $2 million, and the CWL Pro League with prizes of $1.2 million.

As the new Call of Duty addition is joining the ranks of Call of Duty Esports in 2020, many expect their place on this list to rise. The new game is set to have a $6 million championship prize.

Seventh Place – Magic: The Gathering

Our seventh place addition to this list is a game called Magic: The Gathering. This particular game brought in $8.89 million in 2019, which is an AMAZING increase as in 2018 they only paid out 200 thousand in prizes. With this increase, they jumped from 42nd place to 7th!

Before 2019, Magic: The Gathering was a card game. The game was very well known, but would never become as popular as Esport games because it wasn’t necessarily a video. Now, however, the creators released this version of the game. A virtual version of the card game that’s been enhanced and improved greatly. The free to play the game is an excellent addition to this list.

Now that Magic: The Gathering had a digital game, they could market the game to a digital audience. By streaming their content on Twitch, they increased their audience exponentially. As the game continues to spread across platforms, it’s likely their popularity and influence on the World Stage will only increase.

Do keep in mind that the 2019 results for this game include both the physical game and the digital game. As they directly coincide, we see this as an eligible addition to the list.

Sixth Place – League of Legends

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League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the world. It’s 2019 tournaments brought in a total of $9.02 million, which was actually a substantial decrease from 2018. In 2018 the game was in 4th on this list, but with the 5 million dollar drop, they’re now sitting two levels below their original position. During 2019’s League of Legends World Championship, they actually managed to set a world record on Twitch, a popular streaming service. Approximately 1.7 million people tuned in to watch on that platform alone. This number is especially awesome considering the fact that if anyone in North America (which is a large market for LoL) wanted to watch the tournament, they’d have to be awake at 4 in the morning.

Despite the fact their prize pool is much lower than that of 2018, League of Legends is actually seeing an increase in players. The game is constantly expanding its universe and adding new assets. The game’s creator, Riot Games, has future plans to expand the League of Legends universe even further. A game called Teamfight Tactics, also created by Riot Games, is supposedly going to receive Esports privileges. Because of this, it’s likely League of Legends will be introducing some pretty large prize pools.

Alongside this is the announcement that League of Legends is getting a TV show! The series will, of course, be animated, and is intent upon stretching out across multiple seasons.

Although the two previous announcements are landmarks for League of Legends, the announcement that the game is expanding towards mobile sent the Esports community into crazed fits of excitement. Because of these newly introduced factors, League of Legends is expected to move higher up on this list in the coming few years.

Fifth Place – Overwatch

Bringing in $9.11 million, Overwatch just barely beat out League of Legends for fifth place. Overwatch saw a step up on this list from 2018, as last year they were in 6th place. The large majority of the money put forward that placed Overwatch in fifth place came from the Contenders League. Investors across China invested millions into the Contenders League, otherwise known as the Minor’s league. The creators of Overwatch, Blizzard, also put up 200 thousand dollars for every tournament, which really increased the overall total.

Unfortunately, this is the last year we’ll be playing Overwatch on this list. Blizzard has announced plans to take a step back from Overwatch and continue on with Overwatch 2. Overwatch 2 is expected to be the next big step and will be replacing Overwatch in Esports competitions.

Fourth Place – PUBG or Player Unknown’s BattleGround

The first addition to this list to bring in over 10 million, PUBG’s total prize amount was $12.71 million. This is a 5 million dollar increase from 2018, where the total prize money sat at $7.7 million. The prize pool for the Global PUBG Championship was an astonishing $5.9 million. The global championship saw 32 teams, all highly skilled and beloved by fans, compete for nearly 6 million dollars. The tournament was held in California and is seen as being one of the biggest Esports tournaments in history.

In the 2020 Esports year, PUBG’s creators announced they’ll be running three events alongside the global championship, which is sure to bring in millions more than what we saw for 2019. The future of PUBG is looking very bright.

Third Place – Counter-Strike: Global Offense or CS: GO

Counter Strike’s 2019 Esports year saw a total prize pool of $21.2 million. This is a significant drop of nearly 3 million from last year. This drop placed them a spot lower than that of 2018 and is largely due to the fact that they ran about 200 more tournaments in 2018.

CS: GO has been one of the more controversial games on this list for quite a few years. Not only is there the typical blood spatter and gore that so many love (which some people also hate), but the entire premise to the game is that you’re fighting terrorists. This would be fine, but one team is actually playing as the terrorists. Their goal is to blow up the other team or something similar. In a world plagued by the memories of 9/11 and mass shootings, many protest the game and say it shouldn’t be granted access to the world stage (Esports). Despite the criticism and hate, the game receives from critics, the game’s audience and player populations have only increased. The popularity of the game and it’s competitions in the Esports world are only expected to grow even further.

Second Place – Dota 2

This is where the listings take a massive jump. Dota 2 paid out more than 20 million dollars worth of prize money than CS: GO (Third Place). This is a 5 million increase from 2018 and is one of the largest payouts in Esports history. Interestingly enough, Dota 2 holds the record for the most money to be ever paid out in an Esports event in the history of Esports. Their global championship in 2019 involved a prize pool of over $34 million. They also broke viewership records, with their teams being some of the most-watched in all of Esports history.

Dota 2 was a massive contribution to the world of Esports, but it wasn’t number one. Not even close.

First Place – Fortnite

One of the most popular games worldwide, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, paid out $64.4 million in total Esport prizes. This is an astonishing increase from the already epic $20 million they paid out in 2018.

At the beginning of 2019, Epic Games announced that they’d be putting nearly a hundred million dollars into Esports competitions for Fortnite. Because of this, virtually every sports team from across the world decided to join in (for good reason). This was great news for Epic Games, but bad news for everyone else who had to choose between throwing more money towards competitions or suffering viewership and player losses.

Epic Games held several tournaments in New York City, where the prize pool for each was 30 million dollars. Alongside these tournaments were multiple solo events, where viewers witnessed Kyle Giersdorf, otherwise known as “Bugha” win nearly 3 million dollars in tournament prizes. Kyle is only 16 years old and now has 3 million dollars to his name. Not many can say that!

You may be thinking the money put forth by Epic Games is awesome, but they didn’t stop there. They just completed their winter tournaments where they put up another 15 million in cash prizes. Epic Games doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon and is sending a clear message to other Esports companies. Go big or go home. If Epic Games keeps this up they’ll be number one in the entire Esports community, and perhaps even at the top of traditional sports industries. Things are looking up for Epic Games, and the Esports community as a whole.

Final Thoughts

With so many heavy hitters this year in the Esports industry, many predict Esports will grow so large that they’ll out-compete traditional real-world sports. The world of digital sports is growing faster than anyone could have predicted, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

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