After his dominant performance and EVO 2018 Super Smash Bros. Melee win, Leffen took to Twitter to promise he’d be sharing part of his prize pot with finishers who had placed lower than he.
EVO promises lofty payouts to its first place finishers in each of its marquee events, with the winner netting 60% of the prize pot: In a year with $13,540 USD on the line, this means Leffen’s take comes in at $8,124.
Meanwhile, an 8th place finisher in Melee, at the world’s largest and most prestigious fighting game tournament, would take home around $135 USD, the equivalent of 1% of the prize pot.
Working a job that pays $10 an hour for the weekend would be more lucrative for the eighth place finisher before taxes. Leffen’s offer is generous, but it’s the result of a system that doesn’t reward its stars for their effort unless they win big, with the winners of EVO taking in 60 times the money other individual quarter-finalists make.
This payout structure is the same for all of EVO, meaning a similar payout for games such as Tekken 7, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Injustice 2, Dragonball FighterZ, Guilty Gear Xrd, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, and Street Fighter V (which will receive its own entry below due to the Capcom Cup), that varies based on the number of entrants. At EVO, only instalments of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and Injustice 2 have crossed a $50,000 prize pool previously.
The proportion of the prize pool that goes to an 8th place finisher at EVO is lower than it is for all other esports listed here, though smaller such events (such as GOML) payout different rates for all finishers, more closely aligned to the numbers seen below. With a 60% payout to the champion, only the Capcom Cup is a more desirable event to win proportionally, though taking home cash from Dota 2 means a lot more money in hand than most other esports.
Here’s how other esports (plus a sport and a card game, for good measure) stack up up and how much money you’d make with an 8th place finish.
Methodology: Using crowdsourced data from Liquipedia and esportsearnings, cross referenced with official sites when possible, we compare first and eighth place finishes in the largest, most prestigious event for each esport, reporting on both the dollar amount (USD) and the proportion of the prize pot. In some cases, crowd-funding is used to supplement the prize pot: This analysis doesn’t differentiate that as it focuses only on what is paid out. Decimals rounded to nearest hundredth where appropriate.
Widely seen as the biggest paying esport, Dota 2 offers riches few can imagine at its largest tournament: The International.
Last year’s prize pool broke records, largely based on crowdfunding, exceeding 24 million dollars. But how much did the eighth place finishers take home compared to the first?[table id=1 /]
Dota 2 teams are comprised of three players, so the take home per player is somewhat lessened assuming an even split of the proceeds: $3,620,894.33 for a first place finish, with an 8th place finish splitting to $205,732.67.
Call of Duty
2016’s Call of Duty XP Championship offered up a $2 million prize pool for its competitors, the largest prize pot for the famed shooter, anchoring Activision’s convention to celebrate all things CoD.
Here’s how much the four player teams that took home first place made alongside how much eight place finishers took from the 32 team tournament.[table id=2 /] Assuming an even split among each squad’s four players, each winner would walk away with $200,000 while an eighth place nod would mean $12,500 per squad member.
Blizzard wants to see who the true, global champions of StarCraft II are, and in doing so have created the World Championship Series (WCS). While the series itself boasts a $2 million overall payout, the championship itself is naturally the most lucrative component, offering up $700,000.[table id=3 /]
Payouts here are unique in that all semi-finalists who lose are paid the same, fifth through eighth.
Street Fighter V
Unique among fighting games, EVO is but one stop on the Capcom Pro Tour with the Capcom Cup having the prize of prizes for the fighter, with a whopping $380,000 distributed among competitors, largely thanks to top-ups from the larger community.[table id=4 /]
Nearly two-thirds of the overall prize pot goes to the winner of the Capcom Cup while an eighth place finish nets just over 1% of the prize.
League of Legends
In many ways, League of Legends sparked the esports movement and as a result has consistently high payouts. The 2016 League of Legends Worlds prize pool eked out a higher prize pot than last year’s, coming in just over $5 million.[table id=5 /]
In comparison to other esports, League of Legends pays out well even to its 16th place finishers, who receive 1.25% of the prize pool.
A team game, these amounts would be split among either five or six players.
Recently wrapped, the PUBG Global Invitational is a two-in-one tournament, offering both First Person Perspective and Third Person Perspective tournaments. Each of these tournaments offers a million dollar prize pool. Quizzically, the prize pool is split slightly differently for each perspective, favouring both a first place finisher and an eighth place finisher in the First Person Perspective by $10,000, while other numbers are adjusted down.
Third Person:[table id=6 /]
First Person:[table id=7 /]
Amounts are split among four players, meaning a win is over $100,000 for a champion, while a quarterfinalist nets around $5000.
With the completion of the Overwatch League it’s safe to say that Overwatch has cemented itself as an esport, as next year’s League already includes two additional teams, with more speculated.
Before OWL was the Overwatch World Cup, pitting the best of the best on national teams against one another, with South Korea defeating Canada in the final. Unique to the World Cup, each of the six-member squads that reached the Finals (meaning, in this case, top 8) received $9,000 or $1,500 per person.
The OWL changed this with professional teams becoming the norm. The regular season paid out $1.3 million, with the playoffs paying out an additional $1.7 million across its top six teams for its inaugural season.
[table id=8 /] OWL teams vary in size, with the champion London Spitfire having only seven members, while teams may have as many as 12.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The ever-popular CS:GO manages to draw a largely international crowd but it packs with it serious money: the 2017 instalment of the World Electronic Sports Games tournament isn’t the largest prize pot for the game ever, but at $1.5 million it was nothing to sneeze at.[table id=9 /]
CS:GO operates on five person squads, meaning a payday of $160,000 per player if even split as champion, while an eighth place finishing team lands $5,000 per player if evenly split.
Yup, we’re going there.
While the snazzy green jacket that comes with winning The Masters is seen as a big deal, it’s the US Open that has the largest prize purse, with the most recent Open drawing in a $12 million pot.[table id=10 /]
This year marked a four-way tie for sixth, so that amount will fill in our 8th place position on the chart.
Finally, the World Series of Poker makes for an interesting comparison point. This year’s main event, $10,000 No Limit Hold’Em World Championship saw over 7000 participants drawn in to duke it out for a prize pot of $74,015,6000, a pot that dwarfs all other events on this list.[table id=11 /]
Perhaps the biggest game in the world right now, Epic Games have committed to $100 million in funding for Fortnite as an esport, though it’s not yet clear how that money will be split and just how large prize pools will be. Still, $100 million investment will likely go a long ways…and maybe create a single event prize pool larger than Dota 2’s.
This data is rudimentary in that it doesn’t account for viewership size: The larger the audience, the more money that can be put into the pot as advertisers, sponsors, and others are lured in.
This data also doesn’t account for other factors such as Activision throwing millions into making Call of Duty viable, or the effect of crowdfunding on prize pools, as seen at various events including the Capcom Cup and The International.
Proportionally, if you’re going to win a tournament, win a fighting game tournament: Nearly two thirds of the dough will enter your bank account. Larger prize pots–and shares for lower place finishers–await those in other genres.