eSports prize pools in 2021 will be characterized by major changes, as was the case in 2020. However, this time around, the changes will be highly anticipated as major publishers have announced considerable prize pot increments.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Safe Betting Sites, TiMi Studios announced that it would invest 1 billion RMB ($154 million) in the 2021 Honor of Kings eSports ecosystem. TiMi, which is Tencent’s mobile game development arm, revealed that the investment would boost the overall prize pool for 2021.
Among the key beneficiaries of the increments will be the Honor of Kings World Champion Cup (KCC), which is the top global competition on the ecosystem. It will feature a 50 million RMB ($7.7 million) prize pool, marking an increase of 56% from the 32 million RMB ($4.9 million) 2020 prize pot.
The Honor of Kings National League will get a 353% prize pool boost, going from 1.5 million RMB ($231,000) in 2020 to 6.5 million RMB ($1 million) in 2021.
China’s top competition, the King Pro League (KPL), will get a 135% boost, taking the pool from 16 million RMB ($2.5 million) to 37.6 million RMB ($5.8 million). Its secondary league, the King Pro League G-League (KGL) will get an 89% spike from 3.18 million RMB ($500,000) to 6 million RMB ($925,000).
Honor of Kings mobile was the second most profitable game globally in 2020. According to Sensor Tower, it generated $2.5 billion in revenue during the year, second to PUBG Mobile’s $2.6 billion.
Fortnite Prize Pool Increased to $20 Million as CS:GO Major Prize Pool Doubles to $1 Million
Fortnite developer Epic Games also announced an increase in the 2021 prize pool to $20 million, up from $17 million in 2020. While that will still be a fraction of 2019’s $30 million, it is still a considerable improvement.
The developer announced the increment while providing details on the upcoming season of the Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS). All the competitions are set to take place online, with qualifiers kicking off on February 4, 2021 and the finals on March 12, 2021. Since there will be no Fortnite World Cup in 2021, the FNCS will be the largest source of prize money for the game’s pro level. There will be four seasons of the FNCS during the year, each attracting a $3 million prize pool. The remaining amount, $8 million, will be allocated to other tournaments that are yet to be announced.
For CS:GO fans, ESL Gaming announced that the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice will happen from February 26 to 28, 2021. Though it will be played in-person, it will not have an in-person audience. 24 CS:GO teams will take part in the ESL Pro Tour Masters Championship, which will have a $1 million prize pool. That will be double the $500,000 prize pool offered in 2020.
CS:GO’s first Major in 2021 is set to take place sometime between October 23 and November 7, 2021. In 2020, ESL cancelled the only CS:GO major that was scheduled for the year, the ESL One Rio 2020 CS:GO Major.
The 2021 event announced by PGL Esports will take place in Stockholm. It will feature the biggest prize pool in the game’s history, $2 million, with 24 teams competing. The previous major which took place in 2019 had a $1 million prize pool.
eSports Profits to Soar from $951 Million in 2020 to $1.6 Billion by 2023
Additional eSports worth looking forward to in 2021 include Dota 2’s The International. The event topped the charts between 2015 and 2019 with a peak of $34.33 million in prize money according to Esports Earnings. In 2021, the prize pool could be a record-breaking $40 million.
Despite the uncertainty that characterized the eSports market in 2020, the ecosystem still managed to beat the previous year’s profit records. According to data published by Newzoo, eSports profits in 2020 grew by 15.7% in comparison to 2019, reaching $1.1 billion. In 2019, the market made $950.6 million as profit. Newzoo projects that by 2023, the figure will have soared to $1.6 billion.
Around 75% of the 2020 revenue, which is $822.4 million, came from media rights and sponsorships. The total eSports audience grew by 11.7% year-over-year (YoY) to reach 495 million.
The expansion of the eSports market is being felt beyond its ecosystem, creating ripples on the sports betting industry as well. According to QYResearch, the eSports gambling sector, valued at $142 million in 2020, will grow at a 6.2% rate annually starting in 2021. By 2026, it is expected to reach $203 million.