‘League of Legends’ has awarded most prize money in esports history
League of Legends has given away more prize money than any other esport in history, according to e-Sports Earnings. The game, which dethroned StarCraft 2 from the top spot, has given away $10,382,289.38 to 1073 players in 202 tournaments in the last four years.
Riot Games’ League of Legends attracts 27 million players per day. Last year’s championship attracted 32 million viewers total, including a moment where 8.5 million people watched the game at once.
E-Sports Earnings is not a complete listing of prize money awarded, but it is by far the best and most complete directory available.
Despite its massive popularity, League of Legends is surprisingly not the most profitable free-to-play game out there. That crown goes to CrossFire, a South Korean shooter that earned nearly $1 billion last year.
The most successful player in League of Legends history is Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, the best player on the world championship squad. He’s earned $255,575 purely from prize money, to say nothing of his salary. Ten players in total, all from South Korea and Taiwan, have earned over $200,000 in prize money from League of Legends.
StarCraft 2, which was the most-watched esport in the world in 2010 and ‘11, has failed to keep up with League of Legends’ massive growth. StarCraft 2 competitions have given away $10,349,756.76 since the game’s release.
League of Legends overtook StarCraft 2 because $800,000 in prizes have already been awarded to players this year at events like the Intel Extreme Masters in Brazil, the Garena Premiere League in Singapore, and OnGameNet Champions in South Korea, which awarded over $244,000 in prizes.
By contrast, StarCraft 2 has given away $189,000 in prizes this year, less than a quarter of League of Legends’ tally.
Dota 2, the second most-played esport in the world, is sitting in third on the list with $8.5 million in prizes. It’s poised to overtake StarCraft 2 on the list in the next year or two.
Beyond those modern esport behemoths, 16-year old games like StarCraft: Brood War and Counter-Strike take up the fourth and fifth spots, respectivaly, testaments to the trailblazing roles the titles played in building a global esports industry.
Update: Aligulac.com, a StarCraft 2 statistics database, lists the game's total prize money as $11,311,853. The discrepancy between the two websites highlights the difficult nature of tracking these statistics. However, Aligulac's editors say that if League of Legends isn't higher than StarCraft 2 already, it will be very soon.
Photo via Riot