Smite championship tops League of Legends finale in prize money

One of the top three esports tournaments of all time will happen in January when Smite takes over the Cobb Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta

One of the top three esports tournaments of all time will happen in January when Smite takes over the Cobb Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta.

With over $2.4 million up for grabs, the Smite World Championship is now the third-highest prized esports event in history, topping this year’s League of Legends finale, the Riot World Championships. Riot Games put up $2.13 million for its annual topper to a year’s worth of competition in the most popular esport on the planet.

Smite‘s tournament runs similar to the Riot event, featuring the eight best teams from around the globe. The U.S., Europe, China, and Latin America and Brazil will all be represented at the event. The winning squad takes home 50 percent of the prize pool, currently a $1.2 million top prize.

Smite lets players assume the mantle of deities from around the world in a multiplayer online battle arena with a twist—a third-person camera with first-person shooter like controls. It’s a recipe for fast-paced MOBA action, a great formula for esports.

Smite has managed to top the prize pool of League of Legends by leveraging a rabid fanbase hungry to contribute to esports—and acquire in-game goodies. A cut from every sale in the Odyssey, a 21-week event selling in-game items and skins themed around mythologies around the world, has beefed up the prize purse.

It’s a formula Valve, developer of competing esport and MOBA Dota 2, has used to fund the two tournaments sitting ahead of Smite in the prize pool standings. This year’s version of the International, Valve’s yearly Dota 2 championship, put up an astronomic $10.93 million in prizes, toppling previous records and challenging even mainstream sports events like the Masters. In 2013, the International awarded $2.87 million in prizes, currently the second highest amount ever handed out to video game competitors. But it’s a number in jeopardy.

Smite is at $2,411,688 in prizes at the time of press after a surge over the weekend saw it eclipse the $2.13 million milestone—and then jump past it. With 10 days until the tournament starts on Jan. 9, there’s still time for Smite to reach another milestone and rank number two in esports history.

Of course, that’s just gravy. The current number is already turning heads and setting records.

This single event will feature more prize money than all but three esports—Dota 2, League of Legends, and StarCraft 2— awarded over the entire 2014 calendar year. January’s tournament also tops the total winnings available in the year’s hottest new esports, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which handed out $1.94 million so far this year, and Hearthstone, which currently clocks in at $1.012 million.

In fact, the Smite championship is worth more than twice the amount of money awarded through the history of Hearthstone. That’s actually an apt comparison considering Hearthstone’s official release came on March 11 this year, exactly two weeks before Smite’s release.

It really makes you wonder what Blizzard could do if it crowdfunded a tournament of its own. Smite is showing there’s plenty of room for esports to thrive with the right support behind it, and room for even games like Counter-Strike to continue meteoric growth.

All-in-all, it’s a great way to usher in another year on the esports calendar.

Photo via HiRez Studios