The eSports industry has seen tremendous growth over the years, both in terms of viewership and revenue. The increasing viewership is what mainly contributed to the revenue growth – and it’s not just because those viewers are generating revenue. Seeing the potential of reaching a large and engaged audience, brands are, investing in esports marketing both directly and indirectly. This has contributed to rapid revenue growth in the industry, only slowed down by COVID limiting large public eSports events.
eSports has also experienced growth in several other aspects, with many of them interrelated in one way or another. In this post, you will learn more about just how much the eSports industry is growing so you can understand how to leverage it.
We define eSports as being “professional or semi-professional competitive gaming in an organized format (tournament or league) with a specific goal/prize, such as winning a championship title or prize money).” The eSports stats we include here relate to professional competitive gaming content only and don’t include amateur competitions or live streaming around non-organized competitive gaming. Newzoo separates the eSports market from the live-streaming market (aka gaming market). For these stats, Newzoo separates eSports enthusiasts from occasional viewers. They define eSports enthusiasts as people who watch professional eSports content more than once a month and occasional viewers as those who watch professional content less regularly than that. Note that some of the statistics we report here differ from what we wrote in an earlier version of this article due to a change in Newzoo’s definitions and recognition of what they consider professional eSports.
Earnings in eSports Tournaments
There’s little doubt that with so much growth in many of these statistics, there would also be growth in eSports tournament prize money and player earnings – at least until COVID arrived.
In 2019, the total prize money for 5591 tournaments was $236,221,114. So, the mean tournament prize pool was $42,250. With 28,336 active players at these tournaments, each player’s mean earnings were $8,336, and their median earnings were $666.67 per player.
With the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020, the overall total prize money fell to $119,457,468 from just 4478 tournaments. The mean tournament prize pool was $26,677. With 24,231 active players at these tournaments, each player’s mean earnings were $4,930, and their median earnings were $582.08 per player.
Esports Teams and Advertising
Just like traditional professional sports, esports teams have owners, franchises, endorsement deals, cash prizes from tournament winnings, and more—all contributing to their annual revenue and total valuation. When the pandemic subsides, esports leagues will likely resume their efforts to expand their audiences by hosting live gameplay with regional esports teams in a way that will more closely mimic traditional sports leagues.
As of 2020, the top five most valuable esports teams according to Forbes are:
TSM – Value: $410 million
Estimated Revenue: $45 million
Revenue from Esports: 50%
Owner: Andy Dinh
Cloud9 – Value: $350 million
Estimated Revenue: $30
Revenue from Esports: 70%
Owners: Jack and Paullie Etienne
Team Liquid – Value: $310 million
Estimated Revenue: $28 million
Revenue from Esports: 89%
Owners: aXiomatic Gaming, Victor Goossens, Steve Arhancet
FaZe Clan – Value: $305 million
Estimated Revenue: $40 million
Revenue from Esports: 20%
Owners: Lee Trink, Richard Bengston (FaZe Banks), Thomas Oliveira (FaZe Temperrr), Yousef Abdelfattah (FaZe Apex), Nordan Shat (FaZe Rain)
100 Thieves – Value: $190 million
Estimated Revenue: $16 million
Revenue from Esports: 35%
Owners: Matthew Haag, Drake, Scooter Braun, Dan Gilbert