Gaming tournaments have recently become one of the most exciting elements of gaming culture. For gaming novices (... or noobs) here’s a quick rundown: Gaming tournaments, more commonly known as eSports, are organised video game tournaments. These tournaments range in size, as do the ability levels of their players, but most large tournaments will be attended by gaming professionals and even international gaming teams. From single-person strategy to large multi-player battles, these tournaments are designed to test every serious gamer’s abilities.
While eSports have existed for quite a long time - dating back to as early as 1980 - the popularity of gaming tournaments has grown rapidly since 2000. Some professional players have even become celebrities in their own right. In the early days, it was unusual if not impossible for fans to tune in and watch these tournaments but this practice has become the norm in recent years. Tournaments are streamed online, often to millions of unique viewers. The website Twitch (a gamer’s Youtube with live streaming features) has without a doubt played a massive role in the worldwide success and growth of pro-gaming.
The increasing popularity of gaming tournaments across the globe has not only led to bigger and better tournaments: It has also led to bigger and better prizes. Nowadays, the prize money for winning gamers in large tournaments can even run to over a million dollars. The prize pools are usually bulked up by development companies, computer manufacturers and energy drink brands, who sponsor the tournaments. In recent years, prizes at gaming tournaments have reached a new high; the following are the ten biggest ever gaming tournament prizes that made some lucky gamers very wealthy
10 CPL World Tour Finals 2005 - $510,000
The CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) World Tour Finals, held in 2005, was an epic year-long tournament. The tournament took place in numerous different locations around the globe, finishing in New York City with a prize pool of half a million dollars. First prize was scooped up by Fatal1ty (Johnathan Wendel), an American who is now one of the world’s most successful professional gamers. Out of the total prize money, Fatal1ty was awarded $150,000. The final was televised by the network MTV.
9 Call of Duty XP - $1 million
Call of Duty tournaments are incredibly popular. The game itself is one of the most popular in world, and has sold over 100 million copies since its release. Call of Duty XP, held in 2011, was the first ever Call of Duty tournament to be held by Activison. Held in California, the total purse was $1 million, of which the winning team - OpTic Gaming - took $400,000. The four person teamed were followed up by another four person group, Til Infinity, who received $200,000 of prize money.
8 Call of Duty Championship 2014 - $1 million
Over thirty teams took part in the Call of Duty Championship 2014. The tournament took place in Los Angeles and had a total prize pool of $1 million. North American gamers really showed they were a force to be reckoned with, with all the winners in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place hailing from either the U.S. or Canada. The winning team, compLexity, were awarded $400,000.
7 Call of Duty Championship 2013 - $1 million
Similar to the 2014 championships, the 2013 Call of Duty Championship boasted a total purse of $1 million. This tournament saw previous winners OpTic Gaming, who had taken first prize just two years before, fall at the feet of newer teams. OpTic Gaming found themselves in third place behind Team EnVyUs and Fariko.Impact, who bagged second and first place respectively. Fariko.Impact were awarded $400,000.
6 The International 2012 - $1.6 million
The International (also known as the Dota 2 Championships) is an annual event which has risen to fame in recent years, and is now regarded as one of the most important events in eSports. The tournament is organised every year by Valve Corporation, the company who developed Dota 2, and sixteen highly talented teams are hand picked to compete. In recent years, the International has raised the stakes in terms of prize money. The prize in 2012 was $1 million for first prize, which was shared by Invictus Gaming, a five person group of four Chinese players and one American.
5 The International 2011 - $1.6 million
The International excited viewers and players alike for the vast differences with regard to prize money. In other gaming tournaments before this, prizes increased gradually. However, the International 2011 offered the team in 1st place $1 million, while it only offered $250,000 to those who came in second place, meaning the stakes were raised significantly. In 2011, the title was claimed Natus Vincere, an Eastern European team comprising of five Russian, Estonian and Ukrainian gamers.
4 LoL Season 2 World Championship 2012 - $1.97 million
The LoL (League of Legends) Season 2 World Championship took place in LA. Comprising of 12 teams (60 players in total), the prize pool totalled almost $2 million. The final was watched by over eight million people at the time of broadcast, which made it the most watched eSports final ever at the time. Out of the prize pool, $1 million was awarded to those in first place. The winners were the Taipei Assassins, a five person team hailing from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Taipei Assassins are known for their highly organised and coordinated gameplay. Their watertight strategies and masterful gameplay allowed them to breeze through the World Championship final, beating their opponents three games to one.
3 LoL Season 3 World Championship 2013 - $2.05 million
LoL (League of Legends) is one of the most popular online multiplayer games in history. The game’s popularity is growing steadily. In January of this year, Riot Games, the development company behind LoL, reported some truly astonishing figures: LoL boasts over 27 million daily players - that’s 7.5 million at any given time. With this in mind, the popularity of LoL tournaments is a no-brainer. The tickets for the electrifying Season 3 World Championship in 2013 sold out in under an hour. First place was snapped up by the talented Korean team SK Telecom T1, who shared in the grand prize of $1 million.
2 The International 2013 - $2.87 million
The International is now the biggest gaming tournament of all time, and the 2013 finals were eagerly awaited by fans all over the globe. Invictus Gaming, 2012 champions, were the first to be invited, with 15 other teams handpicked to follow suit. Invictus Gaming displayed disappointing play in comparison to previous years, and failed to even rank in the top three. First prize, a staggering $1.4 million dollars (almost half a million more than 2012) was awarded to the five-strong Swedish team Alliance. Alliance crushed their opponents Na’Vi with their tough, organised gameplay.
1 The International 2014 - $10.9 million
The latest International final took place in July of this year in Seattle, Washington. The 2014 final proved to be the most exciting eSports event in history, with the prize pool mushrooming to five times the amount of other similar tournaments. The large pool meant all rewards were unlocked from Dota 2, including new visuals. First place was taken by Newbee. The five Newbee players - Banana, Mu, Hao, xiao8 and SanSheng, all hailing from China - split the incredible top prize of $5 million. Runners up Vici Gaming (also from China) and Evil Geniuses (hailing from the US, Canada and Sweden) were awarded $1.4 million and $1 million respectively. Newbee stunned viewers with their incredibly tough gameplay. Mu (Zhang Pan) was noted for his high risk yet methodical gameplay, while Hao (Chen Zhihao) has earned the nickname ‘General Hao’ from fans, due to his highly aggressive, militant attitude. As a whole, Newbee was praised for taking lots of risks that ultimately paid off, making it one of the most daring teams around at the moment, and deserving winners of the 2014 tournament.