5 Best-Paying Esports Games in 2023
Since 2020, the realm of Esports has only risen from strength to strength, effectively fortifying its position as one of the best billion-dollar empires in modern media. 2022 alone, believe it or not, raked in $100 million in prize pools—and that doesn’t even graze the surface of the sports entertainment market as a whole, either. It makes sense then, that insiders are claiming that the Esports subsidiary is shaping up to hold a monumental value of $3 billion by the end of 2028.
Of course, 2022 was only the beginning of a new chapter in the book of flourishing Esports tournaments. Needless to say that, in spite of the cooldown period following the pandemic, it delivered what it set out to do on all accounts, using its resources to establish some of the biggest and most profitable events in the world. That said, if you’re curious to know which Esports events typically pay out the most, then read on.
5. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Since 2012, the beloved tactical first-person shooter known as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (or CS:GO, for most) has conjured up well over $134 million in total prize pools, essentially making it one of the highest-paying Esports games of all time. And truth be told, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon, either, mostly down to the fact that its user base and presence on Twitch is nearly always expanding. In 2023, this global sensation will see in the ESL Pro League’s seventeenth season, an event that will serve as a gateway to IEM Katowice, Dallas, and Cologne 2023 and their shared $2.25 million prize pool.
It goes without saying that CS:GO and its impenetrable network of award-winning teams and staggeringly high prize pools are partly the reason for Esports’ sudden surge in popularity these past few years. Since 2020, in fact, ESL Pro League has tripled its prize pool, leaving behind the fairly large $225k for a much more appealing $850k. Fact is, this is only likely to increase as the years march forward—and it continues this year with Season 17 between March 1st and April 2nd.
Between PUBG and its mobile counterpart, PUBG Studios has in its possession one of the biggest cash cows in modern gaming, a fact that is fortified by its seriously high Esports prize pools. In 2022, for example, a $3.5 million purse was accrued for the 32-team Global Championship event, which later went on to reward the final team with a little over $1 million in total winnings.
Since its 2017 debut, PUBG has held just shy of 554 tournaments which, when combined, has amounted to $52 million in total winnings. In 2023, PUBG Studios will host not only its annual two-part Global Series, but the Nations Cup, as well as the Global Championship, which will take place over the course of November and December later this year.
Fortnite may have fallen from grace ever since it decreased the global prize fund, but even in 2023 it still holds a spot on the monopoly, as it will continue to do so for as long as its player base supports it. The fact is, though, 2022 only saw a “disappointingly mediocre” $1 million prize pool, which was at the FNCS Invitational. Granted, this wasn’t exactly the sight for sore eyes fans of the battle royale game wanted, what with the 2019 World Cup boasting a staggering $30 million cash cow.
Anyway, in spite of the zig-zag patterns Fortnite tends to chalk up on an annual basis, the fact is the game is still just as popular as it once was, and its net worth as an Esports platform is only likely to increase over the course of 2023, too. Is it worth checking out this year? Absolutely — if not for the prize pools, then for the die-hard fan base that make it the powerhouse gaming phenomenon that it is.
2. Arena of Valor
Given the fact that Arena of Valor is a mobile game, it does come as a slight surprise that its associated Esports tournaments have unnaturally high prize pools. An example here would be the Honor of Kings International Championship 2022, an event that went on to accrue a $10 million prize pool for just 16 global teams. Seeing as this was indeed based around a mobile title, it did make the winning team’s $3.5 million payout a serious eye-opener for those seeking to plant roots in Esports’ portable domain.
Arena of Valor is only on the rise, too, with an even higher prize pool expected to drop at the next global event. Knowing that, and how high of a stake the game has on the Esports monopoly, now would perhaps be the best time to invest some level of interest in its ever-evolving world.
1. Dota 2
Of course, anyone who knows the Esports market will likely know of Dota 2, or at least be aware of its ludicrously high prize pools and fan base. On average, The International, an annual event that sees all the greatest teams band together to battle it out over two round-robin brackets, the prize pool tallies up to a rosy $19 million, give or take. This is usually crowdfunded via Valve’s Dota 2 community battle pass, and is essentially spread between the 20 teams, regardless of their final ranking.
Funnily enough, The International 2022 was actually in receipt of one of the lowest-paying prize pools in the history of the event. Fact is, in 2021 that same event posted a solid $40 million prize pool, which led to the finalist (that being Team Spirit) receiving a whopping $18 million in winnings. With all of that in mind, it’d be foolish to pass up the opportunity to get involved with The International 2023. If you want an Esports tournament that boasts high stakes and even higher payouts, then Dota 2 is the one and only game you’ll need to set your eye on this year.
So, what’s your take? Will you be tuning in to watch any of the above five tournaments? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.