Esports with the biggest tournaments - And how they were won

Esports with the biggest tournaments - And how they were won
Epic Games

Written by 

Mackenzie O Brien


27th Aug 2021 15:16

Esports is an ever-growing industry, with many competitions and tournaments seeing airtime on broadcast television and streaming services. The public is quickly starting to gain interest in the esports industry, and tournament organisers have started to take notice.

Prize pools are growing just as quickly just as the audience for esports, with many tournaments boasting multi-million dollar prizes for the best contenders. Because of these enormous prize pools, the competition at these events has grown fierce, with many young professionals duelling it out for a chance at the prize money.

There are a lot of esports tournaments out there, many of which offer an extravagant prize pool to competitors who best the bunch. While many of these tournaments have an incredible payout, the age-old question has been which of these tournaments pays the most. To answer the call, we've made a list of the top 5 prize pools across esports.

This list will show just how many esports provide players with multi-million dollar prizes, and how some players were able to walk away with all of it.

5. Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2020

Game: Arena of Valor

Prize Pool: $4,604,336

Organized by Tencent and VSPN, this Arena of Valor tournament brought 12 teams together for fierce competition and a chance to win several million dollars.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus lockdown efforts, the event was only open to people who had been in China before the lockdowns began. For this reason, most of the teams that participated in the tournament were Chinese teams, with only a handful of teams outside of China participating. Dan from Malaysia, AOLIN from Macau, and DAT from Hong Kong ended up joining the tournament as well.

The Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2020 began on July 15, 2020, ending on August 16, 2020. It consisted of numerous brackets, where teams fought for the number one spot and a chance at some of the prize money. In the end, Turnso Gaming was victorious, bringing home $1,933,821 after the tournament concluded.

Turnso Gaming is now known as Weibo Gaming, since it was acquired by the most well-known Chinese social media platform, Weibo. The social platform boasts over 445 million monthly users and a significant stock market impact. Weibo Gaming has earned around $3 million since they began in 2017, with an active roster still working to win future titles.

4. LoL World Championships 2018

Game: League of Legends

Prize Pool: $6,450,000

This tournament was an exciting way to end a season of League. The Worlds 2018 competition was the climactic end to 2018's League of Legends season - and what a conclusion it was. Twenty-four teams were invited to Worlds, which is officially hosted by Riot Games.

With a huge prize pool and officially hosting from Riot, it's needless to say that this tournament is a big deal amongst fans. Worlds 2018 was hosted in South Korea, where the teams travelled in their efforts to duke it out on the world's stage. Players travelled to Seoul to participate in the Knockout Stages, where groups of teams battled it out to advance to the main event.

The main event, which was hosted in Busan, featured another knockout round, where the winning teams would later advance to the Quarterfinals. After making it to the Quarterfinals, the teams would have to battle it out to make it to the Semifinals and Finals.

The finals consisted of 'best of five' matches, where teams had to compete against one another for the potential to come out on top. At the end of the contest, Invictus Gaming ended up taking home the first place title, bringing home a whopping 38% of the prize pool. In the end, the team walked away with $2,418,750- a worthy prize for 2018's top League team.

Invictus Gaming is a Chinese esports organisation, which was started in 2011 by Wang "WXZ" Si-Cong. The team was formerly known as Catastrophic Cruel Memory until it was bought by Si-Cong in 2011. The team boasts players from multiple different platforms, including Starcraft II, Dota, and League.

Invictus Gaming ended up taking down their rivals during the World Championship, managing a win against Korean organisation KT Rolster and besting G2 esports in a close semifinal battle. Their best of five wins are regarded as some of the fastest in League of Legends, which has made Invictus Gaming iconic in the eyes of League fans.

3. PUBG Global Invitational 2021

Game: PUBG

Prize Pool: $7,056,789

PlayerUnkown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) is known for its fierce competition and high stakes. The PUBG Global Invitational is no exception. This tournament brings 32 teams from around the world together, where they will fight for the number one spot. During the competition, there are four matches per day, with all teams battling to determine their placement.

The top 16 competitors move forward, while the remaining 16 fight for their place at the bottom of the ranks. During the finals of the PUBG GI 2021, players duke it out in 10 matches, which determines ranks 1-16. The prize money is distributed amongst these teams. At the end of the match, the team with the greatest amount of prize money walks away with the title of Champion.

The winning team during this year's PUBG Global Invitational was the Susquehanna Soniqs, who walked away with a cool $1,296,189. This North American team was formed by Sean "Syllogic" Yi in 2020. The team participates in Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, and PUBG events, with most of their overall winnings coming from the PUBG GI 2021.

The team's current roster consists of Hunter "hwinn" Winn, Tristan "Shrimzy" Nowicki, Austin "M1me" Schreff, and James "TGLTN" Giezen.

2. World Cup 2019 Solo

Game: Fortnite

Prize Pool: $15,287,500

This iconic tournament was first announced at the E3 Party Royale Celebrity Pro-Am, which made headlines across the world. Many Fortnite players and gamers alike were excited about this competition, as it was the first of its kind in the ever-expanding battle royale. It was also extremely competitive, with 100 players turning up to battle it out in front of the world.

The Fortnite World Cup was announced officially by Epic Games on February 22, 2019, giving players the dates of July 26 - 28 to look forward to. The event kicked off in New York, featuring both solo and duo players.

While the winnings in this tournament were incredible, one win made headlines and history. Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf ended up taking home the Solo title, winning a prize of $3 million, around 20% of the prize pool. Bugha was only 16 at the time, which took the world by storm. Because of his Fortnite World Cup win, Bugha is one of the most recognisable esports figures today, with a custom Icon Series skin in Fortnite, lines of esports merchandise, and a dedicated fanbase.

Bugha currently plays for Sentinels, a North American organisation known for its Overwatch, Fortnite, and Hearthstone prowess. The team was initially called Phoenix1, a prominent League of Legends organisation. They left League of Legends in 2018, making waves in the Fortnite world immediately after. With Bugha's Fortnite World Cup win, this team won't be forgotten anytime soon.

1. The International 2019

Game: Dota 2

Prize Pool: $34,330,068

From August 15 to 25, Dota 2 players had a shot at over $34 million. Eighteen teams total had the opportunity to battle it out to take home the winning title. Twelve of these teams were invited to the tournament, while six of them had to rise through the ranks in hopes of qualifying.

At the end of the match, OG ended up taking home $15,620,181, which was almost 46% of the prize pool. This concluding match in the Dota Pro Circuit is highly-regarded in the esports community, especially since it is hosted by Valve itself. The 2019 event was hosted in Shanghai, China, occurring offline.

OG is a relatively new team, forming in 2015. The team was previously known as (monkey) Business before being bought out by Red Bull, which brought it to the world's attention. Overall, this team has over $33 million in winnings, and it is captained by Johan "N0tail" Sundstein, one of the top Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth players.

OG made world records when it won two 'The International' competitions in a row. In 2018 and 2019, OG took home first place in two consecutive International events, which made for a historical moment in esports history.

Looking Forward to 2022

As tournaments go live once again, it will be exciting to see how high the stakes get in 2022. Many tournaments have started offering in-person events, which means bigger prize pools and more competition.

With so much excitement just around the corner, many people in the esports industry are wondering which competition will pack the biggest prize pool. Until then, only time will tell!


Mackenzie O Brien
About the author
Mackenzie O Brien
Mackenzie is a Freelance Journalist at GGRecon, she has experience in the social media side to the gaming industry.
Why trust GGRecon?

Established in 2019, we don’t just cover games - we live them. Our expert team is full of dedicated gamers, qualified journalists, and industry insiders who collectively boast decades of experience covering gaming and esports. This deep-rooted expertise allows us to provide authoritative and nuanced perspectives first-hand from a team who are playing, and researching every game covered on our website. 

Our foundation is built on a profound commitment to editorial independence, ensuring our content remains free from external influence and advertising pressures and is held to the highest level of editorial conduct, integrity, and quality. 

Every article on GGRecon comes from rigorous research, informed analysis, and a passion for gaming that resonates with our readers. We uphold these standards through a transparent editorial policy, accessible here, which governs our processes and maintains our accountability.

Riot’s reported Saudi League tournament is set to overshadow Pride Month
PUBG Battlegrounds dev on shaking up the formula with new map Rondo
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story preview - An ice adventure
League of Legends’ vampiric Champion Briar will take a bite out of player's control
Tundra's 33: 'The organisation [of the Major] has been surprisingly great'
Related Articles
MrSavage on sacrifices and balancing being an 18-year-old superstar
Reddysh is relishing the LAN Fortnite era ahead of Red Bull Contested
Kitrak: “I think we only played two or three scrims before the tournament”
G2 Mikyx explains tackling MSI overconfidence and scrim potential
PUBG: Battlegrounds dev on keeping battle royales fresh, going free-to-play & more