eSports by the Numbers


The eSports industry is among the industries in the world today that show no sign of slowing down. There are lots of huge stadiums worldwide that are being filled by professional sports tournaments, and millions of spectators at home tune in to watch their favorite players and teams battle it out in their favorite games. As more investments are made to the eSports industry, sponsorship budgets increase, and more developers push an eSports agenda. With this, the industry continues to rise. [1]

eSports primarily involves players or teams competing against each other in tournaments for a cash prize. It is like traditional sports, but they compete in computer games. It is also sometimes referred to as eGames or electronic sports. [2] If you want to learn more about the eSports industry, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you more information about eSports, including its history, statistics, and some of the most interesting facts that you need to know.

History of eSports

illustration of a gamer

For some people, eSports is a modern-day gold rush. Starting in the 1990s, gaming went from a casual hobby to an organized, professional sport. [2] However, the assumption that eSports are only a recent phenomenon is quite wrong, as, in reality, the foremost eSports event was held in 1972. It was when Stamford University students battled against one another in the game titled Spacewar! The prize that they received for that was a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

The first true video game tournament was held in the 1980s, with 10,000 attendees gathered for the Space Invaders Championship. However, during these times, most players were focused on beating each other’s high scores rather than competing in organized tournaments.

As video gaming became more popular in the 1990s, it also became the first decade when eSports began to really take off. However, the term was not yet coined back then. Companies such as Sega and Nintendo held professional gaming tournaments in the 90s. It was also when people started seeing money become a factor in professional gaming. During these times, people were no longer merely playing for praise but to win jackpots as big as $15,000. [1]

The world’s first “real” eSports event was the 1997 Red Annihilation Quake tournament. It had 200 participants that battled to take the grand prize, which was the Ferrari of the lead developer of Quake. A few weeks after that, the Cyberathlete Professional League was formed. It was an organization considered the pioneer of eSports.

With the normalization of gaming and the internet, along with advancements in technology, the real surge of eSports began. It was then that we started seeing what we now know as modern-day eSports. As streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch became popular, a lot of people became interested not only in playing video games but as well as watching others play these games, too. At the present time, popular tournaments are selling out stadiums, and professional eSports players are earning millions between prize money, salaries, and advertising. [1]

The Biggest eSports Games

woman playing a game on her PC

Did you know that the audience for eSports games worldwide is projected to reach 250 million people? Yes, that is how popular eSports is today. The growth of eSports has been impressive, and a lot of new games are being launched each year. But even though there are lots of games to play, there are some that dominate the industry and are more popular than the others.

When we tackle the topic of the biggest eSports games, it can be different for various people. This is because there are games that are more popular worldwide while others are successful in certain regions only. Also, some games have a lot more players while others form bigger tournaments with large cash prizes.

The graph below shows the biggest eSports games, depending on the amount of cash prizes that they have awarded for tournaments.


Among the many games played on eSports, Dota 2 has the biggest prize money ever awarded, which amounts to $224.7 million. It is a popular multiplayer battle arena eSports game developed by Valve Corporation. It is most popular in Europe and North America. Second on the list is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which awarded total prize money of $96.5 million. It is made by the same developer of Dota 2 in collaboration with Hidden Path Entertainment. It is a first-person shooter game and the fourth one in the series. [3]

On the third spot is Fortnite, which awarded total prize money of $89.1 million. It is an online multiplayer game created by Epic Games. Next on the list is League of Legends, with $75.5 million in total prize money awarded. It is a multiplayer real-time strategy action game made by Riot Games, which is quite popular in Asia. Fifth on the list is StarCraft II, which has awarded total prize money of $33 million. It is also a real-time strategy game, and it was developed by Blizzard Entertainment.

Number six on the list is PUBG, a battle royale type of game by YBG Corporation. It has awarded a total prize money of $22.2 million. Seventh is Overwatch, which has given a total of $21.7 million. It is a first-person shooter game by Blizzard Entertainment. It is played around the world but more popularly in Asia. On the eighth spot is Hearthstone, with total prize money of $21.1 million. It is a digital card game created by Blizzard Entertainment. [3]

In ninth place is Heroes of the Storm, with $18.1 million in total prize money awarded. It is another multiplayer game by Blizzard Entertainment. Lastly, in the tenth spot is Arena of Valor, with $14.5 million total prize money. It is an online multiplayer battle arena game published by popular gaming and media company Tencent Games. [3]

The Top Earning eSports Players in the World

during the Dota 2 championshi

In addition to the fun, a lot of people are becoming interested in entering the world of eSports due to the amount of money that many players are earning. Many are trying to know how much an eSports player can earn. In this part, we have charted the highest-earning eSports players in the world, and we are surprised to learn that all of them are playing Dota 2.


The highest-earning eSports player in the world is Johan Sundstein. He is still active on the eSports scene, known by his moniker N0tail. He is the captain of team OG, which is among the most successful Dota 2 teams in the world. His teammates are also on the list following him, namely Jesse Vainikka, Anatham Pham, Sebastien Debs, and Topias Taavitsainen.

In addition to team OG, another team that is very popular in Dota 2 is team Nigma. Four of their players are among the top earners in the eSports world which are Kuro Takhasomi, Amer Barqawi, Ivan Ivanov, and Maroun Merhej. The tenth highest earning eSports player in the world is from Dota 2’s Team Secret, Lasse Urpalainen. [4]

Why do you think Dota 2 players get paid so much? Well, this can be because Valve has made a very strong community-sharing revenue model, which has allowed the prize pool of the game to grow over the years. [4]

Worldwide eSports Viewer Numbers

The graph below shows the number of viewers of eSports tournaments from 2020 to 2025.


In recent years, the eSports market has boomed, with more and more viewers tuning in to watch their favorite games being played by some of the best gamers in the world. According to Statista, the overall eSports enthusiasts in the world could reach more than 318 million from 215.2 million in 2020. There are also around 322.7 million people who are forecast to be occasional viewers of eSports by 2025. [5]

The eSports Market Growth Statistics

eSports has surged in fame in recent years, and its market value also followed suit. Take a look at the graphs below to see the market growth statistics of eSports.

eSports Market Revenue Worldwide

Take a look at the graph below to see the worldwide revenue of the eSports market from 2019 to 2025.


In 2022, the worldwide eSports market was valued at more than $1.38 billion, and it was forecast to grow as much as $1.87 billion in 2025. Currently, Asia and North America represent the largest eSports markets when it comes to revenue. In fact, China alone accounts for almost one-fifth of the market. [7]

eSports Estimated Market Revenue by Segment

Below is a full breakdown of eSports estimated market revenue by segment:


eSports sponsorships account for an estimated $641 million worth of revenue in 2021. It is the largest contributing segment of total eSports revenue, making up about 60% of total profits. It was followed by media rights, which were responsible for $192.6 million worth of revenue in the eSports industry. [6]

The Leading eSports Tournaments Worldwide

As of January 2022, the eSport tournament that has offered the greatest overall prize pool was “The International 2021.” It had a total prize pool of more than $40 million. This tournament is the recent iteration of the Dota 2 eSports tournament, which took place in October 2021in Bucharest, Romania. [8] The previous iterations of the same tournament have consistently offered the greatest prize pool every year. Take a look at the graph below for the leading eSports tournaments in the world.


The International was originally organized as a promotional event when Dota 2 was released. Later on, it was held annually with an increasing prize pool, which was contributed mainly by crowdfunding sources. [8]

Highest Earning eSports Countries by Prize Winnings

The graph below shows the highest earning eSports countries in the world in 2021 based on prize money won.


Based on estimates, Chinese eSports gamers brought home around $37.96 million of winnings from eSports competitions in 2021. Next on the rank is the United States, with $23 million in prize money won. Also on the list of highest earning eSports countries are Russia, Korea, Ukraine, Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark. [10]

eSports Statistics in the United States

There are millions of players in America alone when it comes to eSports. Let us take a look at the statistics of eSports in the United States through the following graphs below:


When you compare the earnings of each state from eSports, players in California are capitalizing on the industry the most, with their gamers winning an estimated $21.5 million in prize money. In the overall pot of $126.2 million, 17% of it was won by the top-500 players, which is more than the next two states combined, as players in Texas and Pennsylvania earned $12.1 million and $8.5 million, respectively.

Fourth on the ranking is the elite gamers in New York, earning a total of $8.4 million. Next is Georgia with $5.5 million, followed by Florida with $5.1 million. There were two players from Wisconsin that earned an average of $1.8 million each, which gave the state one of the highest per capita rates across all 50 states. Eighth on the list is New Jersey, earning $3.5 million, followed by Indiana with $3.2 million. Last but not least is Washington, having an overall earning of $3 million. [9]

Top eSports Games in the United States

The graph below shows the top eSports games in the United States where players earn the most:


The most profitable eSports game in the U.S. is Call of Duty. The first-person shooter game has been responsible for more than $28.4 million in winnings over the last two decades. It is followed by Fortnite, which is also played by millions around the world. It has an astounding $26.8 million in combined earnings among the top 500 gamers in America.

Dota is in third place in the U.S., which is worth considerably less compared to the top-two ranked games. Players in the U.S. have earned a total of $13.6 million from it. It is followed by Counter-Strike, which is worth more than $10 million in prizes. Fifth on the list is Halo, with earnings of $8.1 million, followed by PUBG, with a total of $3.4 million. The games Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, SMITE, and League of Legends are also among the top ten eSports games in the United States where players earn the most. [9]

More Interesting Statistics About eSports

a team of eSports players celebrating their win

The eSports industry is indeed continuously growing. If you want to learn more, below are more interesting statistics about eSports that you should know about:

  1. China is, without a doubt, the largest eSports market in the world, and it is worth an estimated $360.1 million. It is followed by the U.S. eSports market, which is worth an estimated $243 million.
  2. According to forecasts, the United States is predicted to have an eSports market share of 28.7% in 2023, which is 6.9% higher than the predicted market share of China in 2023.
  3. The most streamed game on Twitch is Elden Ring. From February to March 2022, it had 4.4 million streams.
  4. As of May 2021, the most viewed eSports tournament is Free Fire World Series 2021, having 5.41 million peak viewers.
  5. In 2020, Enthusiast Gaming was the top-earning eSports organization. It brought around $95 million in revenue, which is more than twice of any other eSports organization.
  6. More than half of the views of eSports tournaments are from the Asia Pacific region. According to estimates, 57% of eSports views are from the Asia Pacific region. This is 41% more than any other region.
  7. Based on a 2019 survey, the Philippines was the country with the largest proportion of internet users watching live streams of video games at 49%. It was followed by Indonesia with 40% and India with 39%.
  8. In the United States, around four in five Americans have no interest in or have never heard of eSports.
  9. Males are thrice more likely to be fans of eSports than females. In the U.S., a total of 30% of male respondents claim to have some level of interest in eSports, while only 11% of female respondents claim that they are interested in eSports.
  10. In 2018, 9.2% of internet users in the U.S. watched eSports. It has grown each year and reached 13.4% in 2021. In 2023, it is forecast to reach 15.5%.


Based on the data and statistics that we shared in this post, it is clear that the eSports industry is steadily growing across much of the world. In the coming years, with the advancement in technology and new games being developed, the industry looks set to continue its growth. We hope this post helped you learn more about the eSports industry.


[1] Hood, V. (2018, October 16). Esports: Everything you need to know. TechRadar. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[2] Adair, C. (2022, January 25). What is esports? history, top teams, revenues and risks. Game Quitters. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[3] Geyser, W. (2022, June 16). The biggest esports games every gamer should know. Influencer Marketing Hub. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[4] Todorov, S. (2022, March 27). Highest earning esports players and how they got there (2021). Esports Grizzly. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[5] Gough, C. (2022, July 6). Global eSports viewership by Viewer Type 2022. Statista. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[6] Howarth, J. (2022, July 4). 27 Mind blowing esports stats (2022). Exploding Topics. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[7] Gough, C. (2022, July 5). Global Esports Market Revenue 2025. Statista. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[8] Gough, C. (2022, July 5). Leading eSports tournaments worldwide 2022. Statista. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[9] Action Network, E. (2021, December 15). The top U.S. states and games for esports earnings: The Action Network. Action Network. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from

[10] Gough, C. (2022, February 15). Highest earning eSports countries 2021. Statista. Retrieved July 19, 2022, from