IEM Katowice was a success in every metric. The high profile two weekend tournament from ESL will easily become what esports fans point to when telling their friends that esports are here to stay. The event was record breaking in many ways, innovative in others, and lucrative as a whole.
The tournament saw 173,000 fans attend in person at the stadium in Katowice, Poland which is a greater than 50 percent increase against last year. Online, the event was just as successful breaking the record for unique viewers—previously held by 2016’s League of Legends World Championship—of 43 million handily. The event saw over 46 million people tune in over the course of the event with 340,000 of those using VR to do so.
It is likely that the event will be a landmark example for potential sponsors looking to enter the esports market.
As a method for sponsors to engage with fans, the story gets even better. 255 million impressions were generated by the event’s social media channels which makes it likely that the event will be a landmark example for potential sponsors looking to enter the esports market. Most avenues for advertising allow for little interaction but the digital natives that make up the esports audience are on every form of social media, sharing, clipping, and talking about the events they are watching.
IEM Katowice was also the most widely broadcast event is ESL’s history. The long-time producer and organizer of esports events had broadcasts in 19 languages across 70 media outlets and platforms. Business Insider points out that this shows just how lucrative exclusive broadcast deals could be. As esports continues to cross boundaries in audiences and platforms, YouTube has been signing exclusive broadcast deals and we can expect Twitch and YouTube—and soon traditional sports broadcasters—to be competing for broadcast rights in the future.
Prize money in League of Legends is not as famously ostentatious as Dota’s frankly ridiculous International prize pots, but earnings tell the story nonetheless. On top of that, many organisations play salaries close to their chest, but you can bet at least some of these players are earning many times their tournament winnings listed here, as tracked by esportsearnings.com. So here are the best earners in LoL:
10. Jang ‘Looper’ Hyeong-seok – $346,307.48
Looper made his name warming the bench for MVP Ozone, before being called into action during 2013’s World Championships. While not managing to keep his team in the competition, he stayed with Ozone through their eventual transformation into Samsung White and came back a year later (this time in the starting line-up) to sweep first place. In something of a LoL tradition, his year after winning Worlds was not as successful with White dissolving. After a disappointing 5th-8th finish at the World Championships in 2016, Looper has joined Echo Fox with veterans Keith and Froggen.
9. Ming ‘ClearLove’ Kai – $347,768.06
China’s top earner is, rather unsurprisingly, Edward Gaming’s longest serving member. After joining the organisation in 2013 (having already made a small pocket of winnings at the young World Elite LoL team) ClearLove has stayed with EDG as the team remains one of the strongest sides in the LPL.
8. Cho ‘Mata’ Se Hyeong – $371,621.02
Returning to our run down of the members of Samsung White’s winning 2014 Worlds team, Mata has fared only slightly better than his former team-mates. Joining DanDy in swapping to Vici Gaming after White’s dissolution, Mata too has had little luck in the Chinese LPL outside a third place NEST finish last year. When Vici Gaming failed to qualify for Worlds, Mata began plans to join Royal Never Give Up and eventually convinced Looper to join him from his unsuccessful ventures at Master3. He now plays for KT Rolster.
7. Heo ‘PawN’ Won Seok – $394,293.08
Rounding out the 2014 Samsung White roster we have PawN, who has certainly fared the best after his big win. After joining ClearLove as a mid laner with Edward Gaming, he has since joined his other old teammate Mata at KT Rolster. His dedication to the game is admirable, even leaving hospital while undergoing treatment for a back injury to help win a 2-2 tiebreaker against World Elite in the LPL quarter-finals. He works hard for the money.
6. Kang ‘Blank’ Sun-Gu – $419,260.80
We begin our run of players from 2016 World Champions SKT Telecom T1 with Blank. With Bengi only playing a handful of games during the Spring and Summer splits, Blank got the chance to shine as the team’s substitute jungler. However, that only translated into a few appearances during Worlds. Surely still worth it for that share of the money, though? He’ll remain with SKT in 2017.
5. Lee ‘Duke’ Ho Seong – $450,210.43
The top laner for SKT at Worlds 2016 sits just above his former teammate in prize money earnings. 2016 has been a standout year for both Duke and the entire SKT team, with a spattering of wins over the last 12 months. The future throws some mystery into the mix, though, as Duke left SKT in November and has now moved on to Invictus Gaming alongside Kid, RooKie, JackeyLove and Megan.
4. Bae ‘Bang’ Jun Sik – $631,239.89
Yes, it’s another SKT player. This time it’s two time World Champion and AD Carry, Bang. A career peppered with first place finishes, it’s clear to see why he breaks into the top half of this list. Wins at Worlds 2015 and 2016 are supported by a host of seasonal victories and podium finishes at Mid-Season Invitationals. He sticks as AD Carry with SKT for 2017.
3. Lee ‘Wolf’ Jae Wan – $635,741.13
And now for something completely different! Sorry, nope, it’s SKT again. A win at Worlds 2016 puts Wolf on equal footing to Bang with two World Championship titles. The South Korean support player will continue to play for SKT in 2017, although there will be another player leaving the nest…
2. Bae ‘Bengi’ Seong Ung – $810,683.00
As evidenced by their position in the list, our final two show that there is only one South Korean super team to outdo Samsung White and that’s SKT T1. While the former was a bright supernova of a team, bringing together some of the best for one perfect season before fizzling out, SKT endures. Bengi has been a big part of that sustain, providing one of the most consistent junglers in the LCK. However, that could now all change as he’s recently joined his former teammate, Easyhoon, at Vici Gaming for 2017.
1. Lee ‘Faker’ Sang Hyeok – $897,818.98
Clearly the Demon King of the Mid Lane will not be outdone. The most famous and successful of any eSport player is just as sharp now as he was during either of SKT’s first Worlds wins. He can now add a third win to that list after SKT’s victory in 2017. He’ll be staying with the team in 2017 where we can’t imagine him aiming for anything less than a fourth Worlds win this year.
In partnership with ESL, MTN DEW® and ESEA have created the Mountain Dew League to give thousands of amateur gaming teams the opportunity to qualify directly into the next season of ESL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League. MDL teams will battle for eight weeks and the top teams will face off at the Mountain Dew Championship in the hopes of joining the ranks of the CS:GO pros.
“MDL provides a unique opportunity for aspiring professional gamers to realize their dreams on a global stage,” said Craig Levine, CEO of ESL America. “With the popularity of esports exploding, we’re excited to partner with MTN DEW and find the next generation of Counter-Strike superstars.”
MDL will kick off with the Mountain Dew Last Chance Qualifier on August 27 and 28 where over 7,400 amateur players will compete in ranked matchmaking. The top 24 teams from the Mountain Dew Last Chance Qualifier will then play each other once a week over the course of eight weeks in the Mountain Dew League Season.
The action will culminate at the Mountain Dew Championship in December where the eight best MDL teams in North America and Europe will compete for the coveted slot in the following season of each region’s ESL CS:GO Pro League.
Throughout the tournament, DEW will be providing the competing gamers with top tools and training, including access to online tutorials and pro coaches. Fans will be included as well as they watch the competition unfold through livestreamed events, behind-the-scenes action, and real-time stat tracking via ESEA and Twitch channels.
“Esports is becoming an integral part of gaming culture. As instigators in this space, we want to push the boundaries of competitive gaming and enable everyone in this community to take part in the experience,” said Sonika Patel, Sr. Brand Manager at Mountain Dew. “Our partnership with ESL is unique in that it gives everyone a platform to participate on a level playing field.”