Tempo Storm’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, arguably the greatest Super Smash Bros. for Wii U player of all time, has revealed some shocking details on the state of prize money in the scene.
During his legendary exploits between November 2015 and October 2015, where Zero won over 50 tournaments back-to-back, ZeRo only made around $45,000 in tournament winnings, the player said on social media. That was one of the main reasons why he decided to retire from the Smash Bros. scene, he said.
If you divide his winnings between the 56 tournaments, then ZeRo on average took home about $800 per tournament, which is honestly quite shocking for a pro of his caliber. This is even before you take into consideration the costs ZeRo had to make for travel, hotels, and more during these events.
It highlights a few problems in the FGC scene as a whole when it comes to pro earnings. These practices even continue to this day, with Sota “Zackray” Okada taking home a measly $4,000 after winning the Ultimate Singles tournament at The Big House 9.
Only at Evo, the biggest fighting game tournament in the world can Smash. Bros players make a nice sum of cash for their exploits. Leonardo “MKLeo” Perez took as estimated $21,000 home after winning the Ultimate tournament, with Gavin “Tweeek” Dempsey winning around $7,000.
It still represents a huge divide in prize money between the FGC and other scenes, however. Magic the Gathering’s recent Mythic Invitation 2019 saw Andrea Mengucci take home over $250,000 alone, for example, from one event—more than ZeRo took home combined all those years.
Until a company like Nintendo starts investing money to help prize pools or other factors change in the industry for the better, FGC players will still receive measly sums of cash for their achievements.