Yesterday the Smite World Championships made one team $1.3 million richer.
It was the biggest prize awarded in esports this year, part of the third biggest prize pool in esports history, $2.6 million. Smite, the multiplayer online battle arena where players assume the role of gods and clash with shooter-like controls and a third person camera, brought in over $2 million of crowdfunding to create a massive esports championship.
Over 75,000 people watched the World Championships live, a solid number for an event in a game’s first year. The production itself was stellar, a broadcast featuring solid analysis, commentary, and entertainment throughout the weekend long event.
It was a storybook end to the first year of Smite esports.
Cognitive Prime entered the tournament as one of the favorites, the legendary Smite team once unanimously the best in the world. During the early days of Smite esports, the team railed off an unprecedented streak of weekly tournament wins. But since the Smite Launch Tournament in March, young guns like Titan and sister team Cognitive Red haved stolen the spotlight.
The Smite World Championships was Smite’s best team’s chance to show they really are the best on the planet, and they delivered, first beating Cognitive Red in the semifinals before taking out Europe’s best.
In the finals, Prime jumped out to a 2-0 lead before losing two matches against Titan’s surprise pick Ares, who controlled the jungle. But when Prime banned it out in the fifth game, things swung back their way.
The team dominated the event thanks to a roster filled with players who will all tell you that they are the best players in their roles in the world. They proved it this weekend. Brett “MLC St3alth” Felley in particular earned his MVP honors, showcasing a massive god pool by garnering multiple bans against him in the finals yet still carrying the series with a multitude of gods, including the fifth game where his signature Scylla closed the series.
The Americans earned $1.3 million, with Titan taking home $522,452. Cognitive Red, the top American seed, beat European team SK Gaming in the third place match to secure $391,839. SK brought home $261,226. The four other competitors, from China, Latin America, and Brazil, each took home $32,653.
Korea has League of Legends and StarCraft 2. China has Dota 2. Europe has Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. And North America? North America has… Smite.
One of those games is not like the others. Smite may not yet have the popularity and massive audiences of those other games. But the other ones also haven’t hosted $2.6 million tournaments (except Dota 2, of course).
That’s because Smite has something many of those other titles don’t—a developer fully committed to building esports around it, one that’s leveraged their community to help them build something truly special. And this year was just the beginning.