2019 will be the first year in which the esports industry will break the billion-dollar revenue milestone, but what are the smaller predictions that comprise this trend? 

According to Newzoo’s 2019 “Global Esports Market” report:

  • There were 737 major events in 2018. They generated $54.7 million in tickets, a small decrease from 2017’s $58.9 million.
  • The total prize money saw a steep increase in 2018. Compared to 2017’s $112.1 million, 2018’s total jackpot reached $150.8 million.
  • League of Legends World Championship sold $1.9 million in tickets and accumulated a total of 53.8 million hours of viewership on Twitch, making it 2018’s biggest tournament by live hours streamed. 
  • The Overwatch League generated a total of 79.5 million live viewership hours in 2018, ranking #1 by those standards.
  • Taking into account the projected revenue of $1.1 billion, the estimated year-on-year growth global revenues in 2019 is +26.7%. Of this amount, $409.1 million will go to North America and China will take $210.3 million.
  • In 2019 the total esports audience will grow to 453.8 million, reaching a year-on-year growth of +15.0% with China leading the way with 75 million esports enthusiasts.
  • 50% of the world’s frequent esports viewers and enthusiasts come from the Asia Pacific region, Europe finds itself second with 16%.
  • North America will generate around $409 million in revenue in 2019. That marks their share as 37% world-wide.
  • According to sportspromedia.com, the top four world’s esport events in 2018, if put together, total an incredible 190.1 million hours of streaming. That shows a 6.9% growth across the entire industry compared to the prior year.

Tournament Prize Money

Tournaments are esports' crowning jewel. They put viewers and pro-players in the same room, and the energy that comes out of this union never fails to be electrifying. But, cammadarity aside, these tournaments’ stakes are quite real with the largest prize pools being substantial.

  • Dota 2 leads the charge with the biggest prize pool with $41.26 million up for grabs during the 2017-2018 season.
  • Fortnite, had a total prize pool of $19.96 million for their 2017-2018 season and if that weren’t enough, Fortnite’s creator Epic Games committed another $100 million in prizes for their 2018-2019 season, aiming for a fourfold increase.
  • Although League Of Legends stands #1 when it comes to viewership, their prizes aren’t quite as substantial. The prize pool for 2018 was a meagre (**scoff**) $14.12 million, an increase from 2017’s 12 million.

Player Earnings

Professional Players earnings in all sports, including esports, are hard to calculate. It’s hard to know exactly how much money they make if you look at more than just their regular salaries. So, to understand the landscape, three main earning streams need to be considered:

Prizes

The big prizes are for the winners, of course, but still, they give a glance on the amount of money an esports pro can make in a single day. Let’s use Dota 2's The International (2018) as an example.

  • During that tournament alone, the winning team (OG) took home a grand total of $11,234,158.00.
  • Each Dota 2 team is comprised of 5 players, which means each player earned a total of $224 thousand.
  • The teams that landed in the second and third place took home $4,085,148 and $2,680,879 respectively.
  • On the lower end of the spectrum, teams that ranked 17-18th in the tournament took home a combined $63,830. Still not that bad for a single day.

Esports Players' Salaries

Salaries are a hard thing to pinpoint. Most teams don’t reveal how much they pay their players, although that is changing.

  • Average pro gamers can earn from $1,000 to $5,000 per month. 
  • Mid-level and good professional players earnings total to around $15,000 per month.
  • High level players, on the other hand, can sometimes earn up to a million dollars per year (around $85,000 per month)

Sponsors

Sponsors are the ones that really make the difference for professional teams. There isn’t much information on the topic out there, but here’s a glimpse of the kind of deals we’re looking at:

  • In January 2017, the Astralis Counter-Strike team agreed a sponsorship deal with Audi for a total of $750,000.
  • In 2018, Nike decided to sponsor not a team, but a single player: Jian “Uzi” Zihao. The total amount of the sponsorship hasn’t been revealed so far.
  • More recently, Riot Games brought in Warner Music and Tchibo as sponsors for the premiere of the LEC (League of Legends European Championship.) They haven’t specified the details of how exactly the sponsorship will look like.
  • In mid-June of this year, the Spanish Team Heretics announced Adidas as its technical sponsor by showcasing their new jersey for the Call of Duty World League Championship.