How The League of Legends Prize Pool Has Grown Over The Years
It’s no secret that League of Legends is currently the largest competitive game out there. Even with new competition on the block such as Fortnite and PUBG, LoL has still managed to retain its title as the world’s most popular game.
With millions of fans battling it out to reach that Challenger tier, you can imagine how competitive it is. Players are grinding tens of matches a day in hope of being noticed and making it to the live tournaments. But with so much money to play for, you can’t blame them. Top players in LoL can easily earn over $300,000 a year. Not bad for playing games all day!
To give you an idea of how LoL has evolved over the years, we’re taking a look at how the League of Legends World Championship prize pool has grown. Starting all the way back in 2011, we’ll see how much was up for grabs and how much each team ended up receiving. Next, we’ll travel through the years comparing the prize pools and seeing how much they’ve improved (or even declined)! Finally, we’ll compare LoL’s prize pool other eSports games and see which game is rolling in the money.
Let’s venture back to 2011 when League of Legends held its first world championship.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 1 (2011)
Prize Pool: $99,500 (Converted from Euros)
|2nd||Against All authority||€17,250|
|5th||Counter Logic Gaming||€2,415|
The first League of Legends World Championship was incredibly small and only featured a handful of teams. Many of them didn’t know it at the time, but a lot of them would go on to be dominant forces in future championships.
The prize pool for the season 1 championships was an unimpressive $100,000 with the top 3 places taking 85% of it. Considering the game had been around for nearly 2 years, it might seem like a low amount, but back then eSports was nowhere near as big as it is today. In fact, there was no Dota, COD or CSGO championships back then; LoL was definitely one of the first to create the eSports foundations.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 2 (2012)
Prize Pool: $2,000,000 (Up 2000%)
|3rd–4th||Counter Logic Gaming||$150,000|
|9–10th||Counter Logic Gaming||$50,000|
The 2012 League of Legends championships were a defining moment for LoL and eSports. With a prize pool of $2 million dollars up for grabs, this was the largest ever eSports prize pool at the time and set the world record. Compared to 2011, the prize pool had been increased significantly (20 times to be exact) making players even more eager to win. With Riot investing millions into eSports and their prize pools, it was clear that the developers were determined on making their game a massive success.
Unlike the previous year, the distribution of the prize pool changed slightly. Instead of the top 3 teams getting 85% of the prize pool, they actually got 70% as Riot introduced a 4th place prize for the first time. This was done as an incentive to teams, so they didn’t have to finish in the top 3 to make enough money to live off. Instead, they could happily finish in 4th place and still make a killing.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 3 (2013)
Prize Pool: $2,000,000 (No change)
|1st||SK Telecom T1||$1,000,000|
|NaJin Black Sword|
|Samsung Galaxy Ozone|
Following on from the success of the 2012 tournament, Riot decided to keep the prize pool the same as the previous year. Since no other eSports tournament came close to the $2 million prize pool, LoL was still getting plenty of attention and more importantly: viewers.
With millions of people watching, Riot saw no reason to increase the prize pool amount and decided to keep it the same. Of course, players where still happy they where receiving high prizes so they didn’t exactly complain about it either.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 4 (2014)
Prize Pool: $2,130,000 (up 6.5%)
|1st||Samsung Galaxy White||$1,000,000|
|2nd||Star Horn Royal Club||$250,000|
|Samsung Galaxy Blue|
|NaJin White Shield|
|9–11th||ahq e-Sports Club||$45,000|
Season 4 of the League of Legends world championships saw a very small increase of the overall prize pool by $130,000. This money was mainly to the lower tiers and allowed the tournament to pay participants all the way to position 16. Previously cash prizes stopped at position 14 so these addition 2 placements meant teams who never had any chance of winning still managed to take some money home with them.
This shows that Riot really does care about the little guys and want as many people as possible to win money. Compare this to other eSports tournaments and they just want to give the top 3 winners as much money as possible. Good for the winners, bad for everyone else.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 5 (2015)
Prize Pool: $2,130,000 (No change)
|1st||SK Telecom T1||$1,000,000|
|5–8th||Ahq e-Sports Club||$75,000|
|12–13th||Counter Logic Gaming||$35,000|
Following on from the success of their previous tournament, Riot decided to keep the same layout and prize pool. This meant having the same $2.13 million prize pool but introducing a paid 17th place. Again, Riot where trying to make as many teams eligible for cash prizes as possible so that more teams would compete in the future. If Riot only gave all the prize pool to the top 3 places (like other eSports tournaments), then it would put off a lot of other smaller teams.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 6 (2016)
Prize Pool: $6,700,000 (Up 314%)
|1st||SK Telecom T1||$2,680,000|
|Royal Never Give Up|
|Albus NoX Luna|
|9–12th||Counter Logic Gaming||$150,750|
|Ahq e-Sports Club|
Season 6 of the World Championships saw a huge increase in the prize pool as it jumped from around $2 million to a whopping $6.7 million. Compared to any of the previous tournaments before, Season 6 was by far the largest eSports tournament, and everyone (especially the players) were looking forward to cashing in on the new funds.
Compared to the year before, Riot had significantly bumped up the cash prizes for each group. This meant that positions 13 to 16 received an incredible $83,750 compared to the previous years $25,000. That’s over a 200% increase to show teams that finishing in 13th place isn’t exactly the end of the world. After all, imagine spending all year practicing just to win $1,000 each. Nobody wants to experience that, not to mention how many teams it would put off. By increasing the lower end of the prize pool, they managed to encourage more teams to play.
League of Legends Prize Pool Season 7 (2017)
Prize Pool: $4,600,000 (Down 31%)
|2nd||SK Telecom T1||$620,539|
|3rd–4th||Royal Never Give Up||$321,761|
|Ahq e-Sports Club|
|14th – 16th||Flash Wolves||$57,457|
|1907 Fenerbahce eSports|
The latest League of Legends World Championship had a prize pool of around $4.6 million. Compared to the previous year this is slightly down by around 30%. The reason behind this is due to the contribution by players to the prize pool. By default, Riot add $2.13 million to the prize pool and the rest is raised by in-game purchases. This means the total prize pool is basically limited to how many in-game items players buy.
This prize pool model is very similar to what DOTA do with their eSports tournament. Known as the International, players purchase in-game items and cosmetics that contribute to the overall prize pool of the tournament. Although DOTA 2 currently has consistently bigger prize pools, the strategy has still significantly increased the paydays for LoL teams.
With the next Worlds tournament only a few months away players are already starting to speculate on how big the prize pool will be. The chances are, not much will change compared to the previous years and it’s highly likely the prize pool will remain the same. Unless Riot are trying to go all out to cement themselves as the biggest eSports tournament, the prize pool will be around $4 million. Although it might not be as much as other eSports tournaments out there, it’s still the most popular and has the highest viewer count by far.