With the year all but over, it’s time to look at how much prize money was awarded in 2016. Looking in the esportsearnings.com database for 2015, the top three is taken by Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, in that order. Dota 2 tournaments paid out $31,018,392 in 2015, while LoL paid $7,697,750 to CS:GO’s $6,276,933. In 2016, however, the second and third place games switched places. CS:GO overtook LoL for the first time in its history.
In 2016, Dota 2 is still the king in terms of tournament payouts, awarding its players at least $36,451,051. The 2nd place is taken by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with $17,191,517 and League of Legends coming up third with $10,223,067. The bulk of the Dota 2 prize money awarded obviously comes from The International, which had a prize pool of over $30 million. Similarly, the payout in League of Legends comes mostly from the World Championship. For the rest of the year, players play in regional Leagues, where they are paid wages. The prize money they get after winning the League is miniscule in scope to the money SK Telecom T1 got for winning the World Championship.
On the other side of the tournament model stands CS:GO, with its Valve-sponsored Majors, which had a prize pool of $1,000,000, online leagues like ESL Pro League, Esports Championship Series, ELEAGUE, and big events like Epicenter. With many more events to play at, all fuelled by the weapon skins market, which certainly raised interest in the game’s eSports scene, it’s no wonder that multiple big CS:GO event prize pools overtook League’s World Championship. If Riot wanted to get at least second place in 2017, they would probably have to use a system similar to Dota 2. Unfortunately, the game is just not set up to do it like that. The next option is to allow more independent tournaments to be run, however, Riot Games are “pot-committed” at this point, nothing is going to change.
With the introduction of ELEAGUE and rich team owners, the CS:GO scene will more than likely grow, resulting in the prize pools in 2017 rising. Unless Riot Games introduces revenue sharing and similar initiatives, CS:GO is probably going to stay in 2nd place for the next year. If some eSports title was to challenge the tactical shooter, it would no longer be League of Legends but Overwatch instead.