Esports gaming has taken over the world by storm. Numerous esports events have appeared in a relatively short period, with astronomical awards and millions of fans worldwide.
Today, we’ll tackle the crucial esports statistics – how it all started, how much money there is in this market niche, and the predictions for the future of the esports industry.
The thing is:
It’s only a matter of time before esports gain the same status as standard sports. Soon, we’ll probably see digital competitions in the Olympics. And the whole world will probably watch League of Legends championships much as today we’re itching to watch the NHL or NBA playoffs.
Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Entertaining Esports Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- Global esports revenue reached US$1 billion in 2021 and is expected to climb up to US$1.6 billion by 2024.
- Esports sponsorships and ads amounted to US$641 million of total 2021 esports.
- 474 million people follow esports worldwide.
- The roots of esports go back to 1971 when Stanford students competed in Space Invaders.
- In 2001 a Counter-Strike competition attracted thousands of participants and offered $150,000 in prize money.
- Free Fire World Series Singapore 2021 is the most-viewed esports event to date, with more than 5 million viewers.
- N0tail (Johan Sundstein) is the most successful esports competitor in terms of revenues (US$7 million).
- The US has the largest competitor base of more than 4,000.
Historical Esports Statistics
1. A rudimentary form of digital gaming competitions appeared in 1971 at Stanford University.
In 1971, Stanford students gathered to compete in Space Invaders. Back then, gaming wasn’t that big. So, the prize was symbolic – a one-year subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
According to college esports statistics, this is the unofficial start of competitive gaming, which would later turn into esports with the advent of the internet.
2. 1980 saw the first official gaming competition – the Space Invaders Championship – with more than 10,000 participants.
By 1980, the media realized how profitable these events could be and started to capitalize on the father of esports. TV companies began to broadcast these events, and more and more people heard about them. This was the actual start of esports as we know them today.
Coincidentally, 1980 saw another big event – the Twin Galaxies championships.
3. In 2001, a Counter-Strike competition with US$150,000 in prize money took place.
First-person shooters had become extremely popular by the early 2000s. The legendary Half-Life mod (Counter-Strike) created by Canadian video programmer Minh Le and American video game designer Jess Cliffe took over the world. And in 2001, many teams competed for the lucrative prize of US$150,000.
However, because the internet was still in its early days, these events were still broadcast mainly by TV companies. It’s not until the internet became more readily available, with faster and more stable connections, that we see the development of esports as we know them today.
General Esports Stats
4. According to esports statistics for 2021, the size of this market niche is around US$1 billion.
The situation didn’t change much when we compare this with esports statistics from 2020 (US$947 million). But if we look at esports statistics from 2019, we’ll see a slight reduction in the global esports revenue between 2019 and 2020, possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the esports industry was worth around US$957 million.
5. The esports market revenue is set to grow to a mind-blowing US$1.6 billion in 2024.
It’s fair to say that esports is still a young industry, with many opportunities in the near future. According to the most recent esports growth statistics, the revenues will increase by more than 50% in just three years!
What the industry needs is a global franchise to cross the boundaries that previously separated “normal” gamers from “hardcore” gamers, old from young, males from females, and so on.
6. In 2021, esports sponsorship and advertising amounted to US$641 million.
The remaining revenues mainly come from media rights (US$195 million). Here’s a list of other important contributors:
Publisher fees – US$126 million
Merchandise and tickets – US$66 million
Digital content purchases – US$32 million
Esports streaming – US$25 million
7. China has the largest esports market revenue – US$360 million, according to esports industry statistics.
China is followed by the US (US$243 million) and Western Europe (US$205 million).
It’s not surprising that China has become the global leader in esports. In fact, the Chinese gaming industry has grown so much that it started to worry Chinese officials. As a result, they recently introduced strict regulations regarding the time schoolchildren can spend playing video games.
Here’s the deal:
Kids in China can only have three hours of gaming every week, all of it during the weekend. These new regulations are very important for the Chinese esports revenues, and we’ll have to wait for the next couple of years to see their effect.
8. The US is set to surpass China in esports revenues by 2023.
By 2023, the US will have 28.7% of global income from esports, followed by China with 21% and, perhaps not surprisingly, South Korea with 18%.
This prediction was made before the introduction of the new Chinese regulations regarding gaming. So, it’s likely that the gap between the US and China will be even larger by 2023.
Interestingly, South Korea is third in terms of revenues. In any case, at home, Korean esports players have already attained the stardom they are destined to enjoy in the rest of the world, too.
Esports Viewership Statistics
9. 474 million people follow esports on a fairly regular basis, esports statistics reveal.
The viewership basis has been increasing steadily for years. In 2019, around 397 million people watched various esports, and their number grew to 435 million in 2020. And by 2024, the viewership is expected to rise to a whopping 577 million.
10. Around half of all viewers are esports enthusiasts.
The 50:50 breakdown between hardcore fans and occasional viewers is a sort of constant in the world of esports. According to the most recent competitive gaming statistics, there were 220 million occasional viewers and 215 million enthusiasts in 2020. In 2021, the numbers increased, but the ratio didn’t change significantly – 240 million occasional viewers and 234 million enthusiasts.
By 2024, the fanbase is expected to grow further, but the ratio will remain the same – 291 million occasional viewers and 286 million hardcore fans.
11. Free Fire World Series Singapore 2021 is currently the most-watched esports event worldwide, with 5.41 million viewers.
Here’s a short list of other popular events:
League of Legends World Championship 2019 – 3.99 million viewers
League of Legends World Championship 2020 – 3.88 million
PUBG Mobile Gaming Championship – 3.88 million
M2 World Championship – 3 million
Free Fire Continental Series 2020 Asia – 2.57 million
Fortnite World Cup 2019 Finals – 2.33 million
This list shows neatly the top competitive games in the world right now.
12. Americans earn the most money from esports prizes (US$21.6 million).
America is the global leader when it comes to prize money. American gamers are currently taking a significant proportion of the global worth of esports prize money. China is pretty close (US$17 million), with South Korea further behind (US$9 million).
France, Canada, Russia, UK, Denmark all have similar “revenues” in terms of gaming prize money – from US$3.2 to US$4.2 million. The figure for the Great White North is US$3.24 million.
Esports Player Statistics
13. N0tail (Johan Sundstein) is the most successful esports player in the world, with US$7 million overall earnings as of March 2021.
There are many other esports gamers who earn astronomical amounts by playing video games:
JerAx (Jesse Vainikka) – US$6.5 million
ana (Anathan Pham) – US$6 million
Ceb (Sebastian Debs) – US$5.6 million
Topson (Topias Taavistainen) – US$5.48 million
Kuroki (Kuro Takhasomi) – US$5.2 million
Miracle (Amer Barqawi) – US$4.8 million
14. Canadian Scarlett (Sasha Hostyn), the most highly paid female in this world, has earned around US$393,000 during her career.
As we can see, that’s only a fraction of what leading male players are making. After Scarlett comes Liooon (Xiao Meng Li) with US$238,000, Mystik (Katherine Gunn) with US$122,000, and Hafu (Rumay Wang) with US$84,000.
Key takeaway:Females earn significantly less money than males in the world of online gaming tournaments. Click To Tweet
15. The US has the largest base of e gamers in the world – more than 4,000.
4,334, to be exact (2020 stats). Next comes Germany with 973 professional esports competition players, followed by South Korea (890), Brazil (852), France (841), China (817), Russia (794), the UK (691), and Canada (575).
It’s interesting that China has so few egamers. It has to be noted that China has a vibrant domestic gaming community. But due to internet regulations, censorship, and blockades, these gamers cannot access the global esports market.
And on that note:
With tens, if not hundreds of millions of people all around the globe thinking how to get into esports, this industry has a really bright future.
The truth is:
This is an extremely competitive discipline (or a group of disciplines) where only the best can thrive. Esports companies only want the best, which is why they employ world-class experts who test and choose appropriate candidates.
As sponsorships and advertising slowly take over, questions arise:
Will esports experience the same kind of commercialization as traditional sports?
Will this commercialization affect the fanbase?
These are just some of the questions esports companies will have to consider in order to retain their growth pace. One thing is clear – esports statistics will continue to pique our interest for years to come. Watch this space.
There are no standard definitions of esports. The name comes from “electronic sports,” which can denote any kind of competition that happens in the context of video games. Usually, we see multiplayer video games in the world of esports, but this is not necessary. It’s helpful to think of esports as a collection of numerous disciplines and subdisciplines, akin to many disciplines we find in athletics.
For instance, there’s the first-person shooter discipline (Counter-Strike), multiplayer online battle arena discipline (LoL), battle royale (PUBG), or sports games discipline (FIFA). There are different games within each discipline, and their popularity fluctuates significantly.
The first event that slightly resembles the esports gaming events of today is the 1971 Stanford Space Invaders competition. From then on, TV companies, media outlets, and whole communities got slowly dragged into the esports mania.
Gamers all around the world had to wait for the technology to develop significantly – the internet had to get faster, more stable, and more widespread. Computers and mobile phones also had to get cheaper and more readily available.
Much like we cannot decide whether soccer or basketball is the main sport globally, we cannot say that LoL is the king of esports or that PUBG rules online gaming. One thing is certain – it’s tough to predict esport trends. Nobody knows what’s going to be the next big hit, the next big game.
If we take money as the most important stat, DOTA 2 is by far the number 1 esport, with $236,125,712.77 in prize money across 1537 tournaments. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive comes next with $120,807,054.87 across 5875 tournaments. Next comes Fortnite, with $108,281,355.70 in 740 tournaments, followed by LoL with $86,689,521.18 across 2619 tournaments.
This is very hard to calculate and even harder to compare across various disciplines. For instance, a win in PUBG isn’t the same as a win in LoL. This is why it may not be the best decision to use the number of wins as the most important criterion when comparing egamers.
Revenue is much easier to calculate and compare across disciplines. In this respect, esports statistics tell us N0tail (Johan Sundstein) is by far the most successful competitor with total esports earnings of $7 million.