The world’s leading gamers have kept esports fans entertained through a series of exciting tournaments so far this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc upon the schedule and forced several events to be abandoned, but organizers have generally displayed a great deal of flexibility and ingenuity. That has allowed fans to enjoy several thrilling battles, while certain players have found fame and fortune during challenging circumstances. These are the key figures that highlight the state of the esports sector in 2021:
34.3 million – League of Legends is easily the most watched esports title so far this year. In fact, it is second only to Grand Theft Auto 5 in the chart of the most popular games on Twitch. Fans watched 34.3 million hours of LoL action per week on average in April 2021, ahead of Fortnite (20.4 million), Call of Duty: Warzone (20.2 million), Valorant (19.9 million) and Minecraft (17.8 million).
6 – Korean team DWG KIA has now won six major LoL titles in a row. The team formerly known as Damwon Gaming stormed to victory in the LCK Summer Split regular season last year, and then won the playoffs. It followed up that impressive performance with victory in the World Championships, and then won the KeSPA Cup 2020. DWG KIA has maintained that level of invincibility in 2021, emerging with the best record in the LCK 2021 Spring Split regular season, and then crushing Gen.G to win LCK 2021 Spring Split playoffs. The team will be the heavy favorite in the esports betting on the Mid-Season Invitational after that emphatic win against Gen.G.
$7.1 million – PUBG has handed out the largest amount of prize money so far in 2021. It hosted the PUBG Global Invitational 2021 Main Event in Incheon, South Korea, with an impressive prize pool of $7.1 million. That made it the eighth most lucrative esports event in history, behind only The International (2014-2019) and the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. CS:GO has handed out the second largest total prize funds of $5.1 million, but that was shared between 1,510 players. Just 140 players have shared the $7.1 million dished out in PUBG prize money this year.
$3.2 million – PUBG Mobile has also issued $3.2 million in prize funds to just 100 players this year. It shows how ambitious the organizers are, with PUBG emerging as the most important battle royale game in the esports sector this year – a status cemented by Epic Games’ announcement that there will be no Fortnite World Cup this year. The top 10 esports by prize money so far this year are now PUBG, CS:GO, PUBG Mobile, Fortnite, Dota 2, LoL, Valorant, Rocket League, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Arena of Valor. If you put PUBG and PUBG Mobile together, it has issued twice as much prize money as its closest competitor.
$324k – The highest earning esports stars this year naturally play PUBG. American trio Hunter “hwinn” Winn, Tristan “Shrimzy” Nowicky and Austin “M1me” Scherff, plus Australian James “TGLTN” Giezen are collectively known as Susquehanna Soniqs, and they got the better of Zenith E-Sports in the final of the PUBG Global Invitational. They shared almost $1.3 million between them, resulting in a payout of $324k for each man. A little over $1 million went to Zenith’s quartet of Kickstart, Poonage, Roth and Shinboi, while $928k went to Gen.G for finishing third.
$5.5 million – Players from the United States have earned the most money from esports success this year. Some 1,430 players have racked up a total of $5.5 million in prize funds, leaving America ahead of China, Korea and Russia as the top earning countries for 2021 so far. That could all change at the LoL Worlds if Korean heavyweight DWG KIA maintains its recent dominance. Dota 2 is also expected to host The International again this year following an enforced hiatus in 2020, and there could be some eye-watering prize pools up for grabs in that event.
$873k – Nova eSports has emerged as the dominant force in the nascent PUBG esports scene in 2021. It earned a cool $700,000 thanks to its first placed finish in the PUBG Mobile Global Championship Finals in January, and then secured a fifth placed finish in the Peacekeeper Elite League 2021 Season 1 playoffs, earning an extra $173k for coolboy, Jimmy, King, Order and paraboy.
$827k – Natus Vincere has been the best performing CS:GO team so far in 2021. The team led by s1mple maintained its fantastic winning streak by surging to victory in the $600,000 BLAST Premier Global Final 2021, which was actually held on January 24, 2021. NaVi has now earned $827k in prize money this year, which leaves it in fourth place overall, behind Susquehanna Sonics, Gen.G and Nova eSports. It is therefore the highest earning team from outside the PUBG scene.