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The online games community can be considered as a young, blooming industry. However, the payouts in the tournaments related to online games cannot be ignored. The rise of esports community can be traced back ever since competitiveness was existent in the arcades our mom and dads used to go to. That certain competitiveness gave rise to challenges between peers to beat each other’s high scores in specific games. The innate need to be competitive can be found in each and every person in our society, so it’s no surprise that tournaments for games that was initially released to give people something fun to do are adamant in today’s society.


The introduction of online games such as DotA 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Street Fighter, Super Smash Brothers, and much more only fueled the fire within people that enjoyed to play the game. However, not everyone is cut out to be a professional esports player. It takes skill, talent, and dedication to be successful in the online games community’s competitive scene. In fact, people that don’t aspire to be professional players but have enough love for the game can already be considered a vital part of the online games community. Without them, the whole community would be non-existent.


Although the society can’t help but accept the people that invest so much time in these games. Why? This is because the combination of high-speed combat, adrenaline, and the intense lights and sounds make esports games a whole lot of fun to play.


Consequently, it wouldn’t be a surprise for us that some of these games have taken the world by the storm. Most of these games started out with humble beginnings, but have now become staples in the online games community. Much like other successful franchises, these games became as successful as they are today due to their loyalty to the players that show interest in them, and basically, they give people what they want. Through this immense dedication to the fans, the games attained a height that has never been seen in the online games community. The games included in the list are determined based on their total earnings, the number of their tournaments, and viewership. So, without further ado, here are the largest esports games in the entire history of the competitive gaming scene.




If you talk to a person that has spent a considerable amount of their time in computer shops or internet cafes, more often than not, they will know about the existence of Counter-Strike. This game is sometimes referred to as Half-Life: Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike 1.6, or CS. It is a first-person shooter game that focuses on tactics and team plays that was developed by Valve Corporation.


Valve went on to expand the franchise, producing other games related to the original Counter-Strike. The succeeding games were successful in their own right, however, the original Counter-Strike game still became number one in terms of the competitive gaming scene.


The peak of Counter-Strike’s esports careers was during 2003 up to 2005, and it was one of the few esports games that could stand side by side with Starcraft during that time. One major tournament for Counter-Strike 1.6 that was attended and participated in by countless people was the Intel Extreme Masters. Since it reached its peak before the esports scene could be recognized all around the world, the largest cash prize the competitive scene could offer was just a $200,000 prize pool during the 2003 CPL Summer which gave away $60,000 to the 1st place winner.


Counter-Strike 1.6 stopped its efforts in the competitive scene and correspondingly retired on the latter part of 2012. This was due to the exit and transfer of most of the organizations and teams when Valve decided to halt its support for the professional Counter-Strike scene. When the news about the halt of the Counter-Strike 1.6 competitive scene was announced, it sent the whole online games community into a storm.


Counter Strike: Global Offensive


The successor of the original Counter-Strike series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or popularly known as CS: GO is one of the largest first-person shooter games in the world.  This multiplayer video game features 2 teams, the terrorists and the counter-terrorists, that focuses on committing an act of terror (terrorist) or trying to stop the act (counter-terrorist) of terrorism. The original Counter-Strike game was released in 1999 as a modification for the famous Half-Life. Today, the Counter-Strike name, series, or franchise could be considered as the oldest existing esports game that is still active in the professional scene, and, as a matter of fact, is one of the most successful esports titles in the history of the online games community.


With an upwards of 820 tournaments held in 2016, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive solidified its title as one of the largest – if not the largest – esports game in the world. This number is almost quadruple when compared to the number of tournaments held by both esports giants, League of Legends and DotA 2. Additionally, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is currently available on television every week in the United States. This online game’s potential to grow even further than what it now gives is the chance to become the leader in the community of online games. If Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s current speed of growth continues to increase, then it may overtake League of Legends in viewership numbers.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the fourth game in the long line of Counter-Strike franchise. This game was released back in 2012 during the month of August. This game has only received the mainstream media attention it so rightly deserved in the past 18 months of it being a professional eSports game. Consequently, from the $250,000 cash prize during 2015, it drastically increased during 2016 to almost an upwards of $1,400,000, and its viewership increased to 1.6 million people during one of its major tournaments coupled with an estimate of 45 million hours of viewing. These statistics were just from one year of Counter Strike: Global Offensive’s competitive scene, and we can safely say that it is just the start. The future of Counter Strike: Global Offensive’s is definitely full of positive surprises for the online games community.


Starcraft II

Starcraft 2

Much like Counter-Strike, the Starcraft series started way back in 1999. This game is a real-time strategy video game that revolves around militaristic science fiction armies. It was developed by Blizzard entertainment that was played by only two players in a one against one format. Starcraft has also been called the most successful esports game in the world, including its ranking system, and it has been known as South Korea’s national pastime wherein two television channels are solely focused on broadcasting competitive StarCraft matches all around South Korea.


Since the start of the Starcraft competitive scene, South Koreans were the widely acclaimed best players of the game and immense respect was given to any non-South Korean player that could go toe-to-toe against the top South Korean Starcraft players. Starcraft was so well-known in South Korea, it was, at one point, considered to be the largest “sport” in Korea which coincidentally made the top Starcraft players superstars among the masses. As a result, this enticed of top foreign Starcraft players to migrate or relocate to South Korea for a chance to be more successful in their professional career as Starcraft players.


Additionally, it has become a commonplace among online games communities to offer larger prize pools. So, it would not be surprising that Starcraft II to increase the amount of the prizes that they were offering in order to retain the people that make playing Starcraft II a career. The professional Starcraft scene offered its largest prize pool in 2016 with a $500,000 cash prize – wherein the professional South Korean player Hyun “ByuN” Woo received the 1st place prize which was $200,000.


Unfortunately, since the introduction of major esports names such as League of Legends and Overwatch, Starcraft has received lesser attention than what it was getting when it was a common household name in South Korea.


League of Legends

League of Legends

League of Legends, also known as LoL, is one of the fastest growing games in the online community. It is a massive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) wherein two teams that consists of five players go against each other in hopes to destroy the other’s main unit (Nexus). It was created and developed by Riot Games. Many believe that League of Legends was highly inspired by another MOBA game which is Defense of the Ancients. It was considered to be the second coming of Defense of the Ancients which led to quickly attracting a massive user base.


League of Legends was released way back in 2009. Currently, it takes pride in having an upwards of a 100 million active users per month which makes it one of the most played games in the history of the online games community. This game could be considered to be in the pinnacle of professional esports because the developers, Riot Games, fully invest in the game’s competitive scene every year. The developers also take full control of all their player’s salaries, accommodations, coaches, managers, legally binding contracts, and the like. Another aspect that makes League of Legends one of the biggest online games is that they also make good use of their own game to highlight both the amateur and professional scene in every player’s regions. Just being on the game’s home screen lets you see all the information pertaining to all the current local and international tournaments.


League of Legends is also one of the most watched online games in history. In just one year, League of Legends had an upwards of 263.8 million hours of viewership on the streaming website, Twitch. Also, by June of 2016, League of Legends had a record of 26.7 million hours having people watch their professional scene which was just behind DotA 2 that had 32.9 million hours watched. In 2015, League of Legends received more online viewers to their World Championships than the NBA finals.


Also, by following DotA 2’s crowdsourcing method, the League of Legends professional scene drastically increased their prize pool in just one year. From $2,130,000 to $5,070,000.



DotA 2

DotA 2 is the second game in the Defense of the Ancients series. This stemmed from a “mod” or a modification to the Warcraft III game. DotA 2 is a free to play MOBA video game created and developed by Valve Corporation. Much like League of Legends, this game is played by two teams that consist of five players which aim to destroy the other’s main unit (Ancient). This game now holds the record for the biggest esports cash prize at $20,770,640. The cash prize was given during their annual world championship which started back in 2011 named “The International”. The prize pool for The International goes through a process called crowdsourcing. The developers, Valve Corporation, offers an initial cash prize of over a million dollars, then the rest of the prize pool is raised by the users of DotA 2 through the purchasing of in-game Compendiums otherwise known as “Battle Pass”. Afterward, 25% of the “Battle Pass” proceeds go directly to the funds of The International Prize Pool.


This crowdsourcing method is highly regarded and became one of the most reliable sources of monetary units for the online games community. Games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Smite used the crowdsourcing method to attain their highest cash prize as of the moment. The majority of DotA 2’s success is from the fame of its predecessor, Defense of the Ancients or DotA, and by conducting a major tournament circuit annually which is funded by the users of the game and Valve.


Key Takeaway

Arguments for the largest esports game in the world can be found from different people all around the world. Should the largest esports game be DotA 2? League of Legends? CS: GO? Starcraft? Well, the primary factors such as prize pools, viewership, competitive scene activity, and many others play a vital role in determining the largest esports game.


However, one thing ties together all these esports games – that is to bring fun and excitement to the lives of their players, which is the most important aspect of any game in the online community.