2021 may have seen a drop off in live crowds compared to past years, but the big prize pools have still been up for grabs. Across multiple esports, tens of millions of dollars have been put on the line for some of the best players and teams to fight over in this year alone.
Here are the five highest prize pools in esports for the year 2021, per Esports Charts.
Dota 2‘s The International 10 (TI10) – $40,018,195
This should come as no surprise to any long-term esports fan, but the Dota 2‘s annual The International once again tops the list of esports prize pools. For the second straight year (excluding 2020 when there was no TI), The International has set a new record for the biggest esports prize pool of all time, surpassing the $34.3 million mark set by TI9 in 2019.
Four of the five all-time top esports prize pools are the four most recent TIs, with the 2019 Fortnite World Cup sitting at third overall, per Esports Charts. The vast majority of these massive pools comes from TI Battle Pass sales, since 25 percent of the sales profit goes straight to the prize pool. To put into context how popular these passes are, the 2021 pool started at just $1.6 million, and over $38.4 million was added just from Battle Pass sales.
PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 – $7,056,789
Like TI, the PUBG Global Invitational.S took a hiatus for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only to return in 2021 in a record-breaking fashion. By eclipsing the $7 million mark, the PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 is the largest esports prize pool ever outside of TI or the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.
The PUBG Corporation also took a page out of TI’s playbook by putting 30% of PGI.S 2021 item revenue towards the prize pool. This effectively doubled the initial prize pool of $3.5 million.
The Overwatch League 2021 Playoffs – $3,200,000
The Overwatch League 2021 Playoffs were set to take place offline at the Esports Stadium in Arlington, TX. However, those plans had to be changed due to COVID, so the Western teams traveled to Hawaii to compete against Eastern teams with better ping. Even with this less-than-ideal situation, OWL still put up a hefty $3.2 million prize pool.
This is the second-largest Overwatch League prize pool, falling just a few hundred thousand dollars short of the 2019 Overwatch League Playoffs. The Shanghai Dragons, who infamously went 0-40 in the first season, claimed victory in the fourth season’s playoffs, taking home $1.5 million, the largest first-place prize in OWL history.
The Six Invitational 2021 – $3,000,000
The 2021 iteration of what is effectively the world championship for Rainbox Six Siege saw a believable show of dominance from the Brazilian region. Teams from Brazil claimed the first, second, third, and fifth spots to take home the majority of the $3 million prize pool, with NiP claiming the lion’s share of $1 million.
The event, known commonly as SI, took notes from TI as Ubisoft sold a Road to SI 2021 Battle Pass that saw 30 percent of those sales go directly to its prize pool. The prize pool could have been higher, however, but Ubisoft set a $3 million maximum. Any proceeds obtained that exceed $3 million will be “redistributed to support the Rainbow Six Esports scene in Year Six,” according to Ubisoft.
League of Legends Worlds 2021 – $2,225,000
One of the most-watched annual esports events has had a run of smaller prize pools in its recent years, but the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, also known simply as Worlds, still produced a $2.25 million prize pool. This is the same number as 2020 and 2019 Worlds.
Riot has always posted an initial pool of $2.25 million, but for the 2018 Worlds and prior they’ve added a percentage of the revenue from Championship skins. In 2018, the total prize pool ended up being $6.45 million, and they cleared $4.5 million in 2016 and 2017 as well.
Worlds 2021 was the most-watched esports event of all time, with over 174 million total hours watched and an all-time peak viewership of over four million during the grand finals.
The PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major – $2,000,000
After a two-year hiatus, the CS:GO Major returned grandiosely with PGL Stockholm—and with it, the largest CS:GO prize pool ever at $2 million. Most of the Majors in recent history featured a $1 million prize pool, but the first Major in over two years evidently needed some more cash on the line. It was also the most-watched CS:GO event in history, with over 71 million hours watched and a peak of over 2.7 million viewers during the grand finals.
With the Major viewing pass in addition to the team/players sticker capsules, there are plenty of purchasable items with revenue that goes straight to the players. These purchases could also vastly boost the prize pool if a portion of the revenue was added to the overall prize pool.