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A photo of The Interational 9's gigantic stadium. It's covered in blue light.
Photo via Valve

The top 10 highest prize pools in esports

We're in the money.

Esports players have seen some outrageous payouts over the last 20 years. While the overall size of a prize pool doesn’t determine the prestige of an event, it’s quite clearly one of the major factors players use to determine whether they’ll show up.

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The first esports prize was given away in 1997 when Dennis “Thresh” Fong won Quake developer John Carmac’s red Ferrari 328. In 2006, Johan “Toxjq” Quick won a Rolex from the WSVG Quake 4 championship. Those were certainly remarkable in their time, but today’s prize pools are large enough that players can often retire upon winning them.

A huge part of this boom in prize money is due to the popularity of crowdfunding. Developers have begun to offer unique in-game items to their vast player bases to increase the size of the overall prize pool.

Valve, the developer of Dota 2 and CS:GO, is the most successful company to employ the model at present. Its marquee Dota 2 event, The International, has experienced tremendous growth throughout the past decade of competition.

Here are the biggest prize pools in the industry. But because Dota 2 and League of Legends would make up the majority of the top 10, we’ve divided the list into two categories: Overall largest prize pool per tournament series and overall largest prize pools in esports history.

Overall prize pools per tournament series

1) The International 10 – $40 million

Team Spirit holding the T1 trophy as confetti rains down on them.
Photo via Valve

Valve’s annual world championship in Dota 2 broke the record for esports prize pools 10 years in a row. While offering a total of $1.6 million in 2011 and 2012, since 2013, the event has been the most successful example of crowdfunded prize pools in esports history. In 2021, Team Spirit took home the lion’s share of a mammoth $40 million prize pool.

2) The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals – $30.4 million

A photo of Bugha, the winner of The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals solo event.
Photo via Epic Games

Epic’s first Fortnite World Cup Finals featured one of the biggest prize pools in esports history.

The inaugural tournament was split into two main events. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf earned $3 million in the solo finals, while David “aqua” W and Emil “Nyhrox” Bergquist Pedersen shared $3 million after winning the duo finals.

3) Riyadh Masters 2023 – $15 million

A green image with Riyadh Masters in the middle.
Image via Valve

Taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the event saw 2012’s T1 Champions Team Spirit take home the championship in what ended up being a one-sided series. Despite a dreadful start to the year, they beat Team Liquid 3-1 in the final.

4) The 2022 Honor of Kings International Championship – $10 million

A close-up of the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup.
Photo via TiMi Studio Group

The Honor of Kings International Championship, hosted in Shenzhen, saw 16 of the best Honor of Kings teams battle for a $10 million prize pool. Most players at the tournament were Chinese, although several came from Thailand, Myanmar, Korea, and Japan.

5) PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 – $7.1 million

Four PUBG characters holding guns with a green and red background.
Image via PUBG Corporation

The first event of the 2021 PUBG season boasted one of the biggest prize pools in esports history. Partly hosted online and partly offline in Incheon, South Korea, PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 saw Susquehanna Soniqs walk away with a massive $1,296,189 in prize winnings.

6) The 2018 League of Legends World Championship – $6.4 million

A photo of the Worlds 2018 arena. Three large screens in the middle, spectators in the foreground.
Photo via Riot Games

Riot Games allowed League of Legends fans to increase the overall prize pool of the event through the purchase of in-game items for the first time in 2017. A year later, the prize pool was increased to $6.4 million overall, making it the largest event in the game’s history in terms of prize money.

7) The 2020 Call of Duty League Championship – $4.6 million

A photo of five OpTic Gaming Los Angeles players focused on their monitors.
Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

Most of the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But despite the circumstances, the playoff portion of the league saw one of the biggest prize pools in esports history.

After a narrow victory in the winner’s bracket, the Dallas Empire dismantled Atlanta FaZe in the grand finals and took home $1.5 million.

8) PUBG Global Championship 2021 – $4.4 million

Four menancing-looking PUBG characters holding guns.
Image via PUBG Corporation

NewHappy took home $1,378,264 in earnings at the PUBG Global Championship 2021. The Chinese team had a spur of back-to-back wins throughout the season, winning tournament after tournament. The Global Championship was just the cherry on top.

9) Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series – Clubs Standings – $4 million

A red and orange graphic that says Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series.
Image via Epic Games

To coincide with the success of the popular battle royale, Epic Games unleashed $100 million for esports tournament prize pools in Fortnite’s first year of competitive play. A good chunk of that money was awarded through the Fall Skirmish Series – Club Standings.

10) Overwatch League 2019 – Playoffs – $3.5 million

A massive stadium with thousands of fans watching a screen that says "Champions."
Photo via Blizzard Entertainment

The second playoffs of the Overwatch league saw the tournament’s overall prize pool increase to $3.5 million. Taking place in the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the San Francisco Shock beat Vancouver Titans to claim the title.

Overall largest prize pools

  1. The International 10 – $40 million
  2. The International 9 – $34.3 million
  3. 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals – $30.4 million
  4. The International 8 – $25.5 million
  5. The International 7 – $24.7 million
  6. The International 6 – $20.7 million
  7. The International 11 – $18.9 million
  8. The International 5 – $18.4 million
  9. Riyadh Masters 2023 – $15 million
  10. The International 4 – $10.9 million

Largest expected prize pools for 2024

1) Esports World Cup – $45 million

Esports World Cup 2024 promo poster
Image via Esports World Cup

Saudi Arabia is splashing the cash again and handing out $45 million. There’s still not too much info on the exact details about the successor of Gamers8, but we can conclude the lineup based on previous tournaments. Expect CS, Dota, Tekken, Fortnite, and more. If the 2023 Dota 2’s Riyadh Masters is anything to go off, this will be a genuine spectacle.

2) Honor of Kings Invitational Championship – $10 million

Honor of Kings Invitational Championship logo
Image via Liquipedia

Honor of Kings has been a smashing hit while it was limited to the Chinese market. Now that the game is ready for the global scene, the international tournament will undoubtedly be a festival of esport. It will take place in Istanbul, which isn’t surprising considering Turkey was one of the countries that received a selective launch of the game.

3) Fortnite Champion Series – $7.6 million

Fortnite Championship Series
Image by Fortnite

With Fortnite getting a new boost in popularity, it’s no wonder the upcoming Fortnite Championship Series tournament boasts a hefty prize pool. As the name implies, though, this isn’t a single tournament but a series that will take place throughout the year. The most important event will be the finals, which will have a massive, $2 million prize pool of its own.


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Author
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Jerome Heath
Jerome Heath is a senior editor at Dot Esports.