The world of esports has grown tremendously on all fronts, and shows no signs of stopping. Last year, revenue was just under 200 million, and is predicted to more than double by 2017. The League of Legends World Championship has even outperformed traditional sporting events such as the World Series on multiple occasions. A Counter-Strike: Global Offensive stream for ESL One Cologne 2015 boasted 27 million unique viewers, which is also highly competitive with the top eSports and sports.

The newly found field of esports is even getting recognition from major television networks like ESPN, despite the preconceived notions about gaming and gamers. This is a good sign, one that might mean the negative stigma associated with gaming could be on its way out. Furthermore, less played games, such as the Super Smash Brothers and Street Fighter series’ have gotten their largest turnouts and payouts ever this year, both breaking previously set records at the prestigious fighting game tournament, Evolution Series. Venues for these large tournaments of every game are getting bigger and better as well.

2015 has been a year of incredible growth for esports, with overall prize pots also increasing by almost double. In the last five years prize money has grown almost exponentially, beginning at just under 10 million in 2011, and rising to over 70 million in 2015.

Esports Prize Money Graph

If this drastic increase in prize money is any indicator, 2016 should be a huge year for esports. Overall revenue, viewership, and prize money have all made huge jumps in the past five years, and especially in this past year. Prize money is linked very closely with revenue, so it can be inferred that with these drastic increases in prize money, revenue isn’t far behind. What has changed, you might ask. Many of the games are still the same, but what has changed is how they are marketed, how people see them, and an increased visibility. Large tournaments are being played out in stadiums now instead of smaller convention halls and hotel ballrooms.

This past fall, the League of Legends Finals for North America (LCS) was played in Madison Square Garden in front of tens of thousands of fans, and millions more online. Many people did not know about eSports five years ago, but now they do. 2016 is looking to be the most successful year for eSports to date. Look for some of the largest prize pots of all time, some of the largest venues, some of the largest revenue increases, and some of the highest viewership and visibility that eSports has ever seen.

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Jake Flynn
playing sports games since FIFA World Cup 2002 and NHL Hitz 2002 on my GameCube. Since then I have played almost every sports game. I have been watching and playing sports since I was 5 or 6, and have loved every second of it. Currently I am attending Emerson College with a Journalism major.