We have seen tremendous esports revenue growth in the past year. It came a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 2000s to the astonishing numbers we are about to witness in 2021.
The first notable games that were at the top of esports statistics of that era were Counter-Strike, Warcraft 3, Quake, and many others that followed shortly after.
Now, the numbers in this industry are much higher than they were back then—the viewer counts, esports pro salaries, and the general investments in esports have reached astronomical heights. Stick with us to learn some fascinating stats about esports.
Top Ten Key Stats and Facts About Esports
- The steep incline of esports market revenue is growing fast and is expected to reach nearly $1.8 billion by 2022.
- The largest sum of esports market revenue comes from sponsorships (estimated at around $615 million in 2020).
- The highest-earning esports athlete N0tail earned almost $7 million throughout his career.
- Esports viewership reached about 450 million viewers worldwide in 2019.
- The absolute winner of the largest 2019’s single tournament viewing audience was League of Legends (almost 4 million people tuned in for the LOL World Championship).
- Fortnite had the highest prize pool in 2019.
- League of Legends crushed the top 5 most popular esports games of 2019.
- Valorant was the most viewed game on Twitch in May 2020.
- By 2021, experts predict there will be over 550 million esports viewers, out of which 250 million will be regular viewers.
- The number of people across the world aware of esports nearly doubled since 2015.
Beginner Esports Industry Statistics to Get You Started
Every good game begins with a tutorial, so let’s do that. We’ll begin by revealing some basic facts and numbers about the Esports industry worldwide.
1. The steep incline of esports market revenue is growing fast and is expected to reach nearly $1.6 billion by 2023.
The global esports market statistics from Statista predict a promising future for the esports industry. In 2018, the global market esports revenue was $776.4 million.
That number was much higher only a year later when the revenue was capped at $957.5 million. The esports industry growth is not stopping any time soon.
2. North America was predominant, holding most of the esports market share (37%) in 2019.
Thanks to the 2019 esports statistics from Statista, we can see that the US surpassed China in the global esports market revenue in 2019. China had 19% of the share, which is still very impressive.
South Korea came third at 6%, which is astonishing when you compare the sizes of these countries. However, the numbers aren’t as surprising if you factor in esports popularity in this country.
3. The largest sum of esports market revenue comes from sponsorships (estimated at around $615 million in 2020).
We already said that sponsorships bring the most money into esports. For those interested in the esports industry worth, here’s a little comparison table to show their dominance of the esports revenue market in 2020:
|Media rights||$176 million|
|Publisher fees||$120 million|
|Ticket and merch sale||$106.5 million|
|Digital revenue||$21.5 million|
|Revenue from streaming||$20 million|
4. The highest-earning esports athlete, N0tail, earned almost $7 million throughout his career.
These mind-boggling esports stats make many teens and adolescents dream of going pro in their favorite game one day. Dota 2 professionals seem to be the highest-earning players in the world right now, according to Esports Earnings.
N0tail is followed by JerAx, who earned $6.5 million, Ana, who won $6 million, Ceb, who got $5,5 million, and Topson, whose earnings amounted to $5,4 million.
The rest of the top 10 esports earners are also Dota 2 players, whose earnings aren’t far behind.
Esports Viewership Statistics
Apart from many people playing games and being an active part of the esports industry, there is a significant number of those who watch it.
This is where traditional sports meet the e-world: enthusiastic support of people behind the screens worldwide. It may all sound odd if you’ve never experienced it, but let’s discover how many people watch esports and cheer for their favorites.
5. Esports viewership reached about 450 million viewers worldwide in 2019.
If you have visited Twitch lately, you know how crazy the esports viewer counts are getting. Twitch is the absolute king of esports streaming, with YouTube following up relatively closely.
The expected number of global esports viewers in 2023 is close to 650 million people. Compare that to 2017 esports trends, when the esports audience was merely over 330 million, and you’ll notice that by 2023, these numbers will have almost doubled!
6. Esports viewership will possibly reach 500 million worldwide viewers in 2020.
Newzoo says that the esports audience across the globe is steadily growing across all major platforms. If the global COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect every aspect of our lives, these esports statistics would probably be even higher.
The global crisis has delayed and canceled many popular sporting tournaments, including many LAN gaming events. Still, many tournament organizations were clever enough to host online tournaments, which caught plenty of traction.
7. Esports mainly attracts younger audiences (62% of US esports viewers are between 18 and 34 years old).
Millennials make up most of the esports fanbase, which is a fun fact for those interested in esports audience demographics.
These generations seem to be less into traditional sports, and esports are there to fill the gap. It’s also important to note that these audiences, for the better part (58% of them) are also receptive to esports branding.
8. The median age of an esports viewer in the US is 28.
(The Esports Observer)
The biggest percentage of esports viewers in America are between 25 and 34 years old (39%). Interestingly enough, it’s a very important category of esports demographics.
People of this age aren’t very keen on advertising and brands, but you can reach them through esports. Marketers are starting to realize this, and the fastest ones are already taking advantage.
9. The absolute winner of the largest 2019’s single tournament viewing audience was League of Legends (almost 4 million people tuned in for the LOL World Championship).
This fact comes as no surprise to most people who frequently visit Twitch and other esports streaming sites. League of Legends viewership statistics were always very high in terms of numbers, and here’s another one.
The very tournament with the most viewers brought over 105 million hours viewed on YouTube and Twitch streams combined.
Honorable mentions include the Fortnite World Cup, with 2.3 million viewers, Dota 2 International, with 2 million, and CS: GO Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, with 1.2 million viewers.
Most Popular Esports Games
Some games have been around for what looks like forever. The new ones appear every day. Millions of people play and pay for them. But, what is the biggest game in esports, and how they compare? Here are some stats that might or might not surprise you.
10. Mobile esports popularity is much higher than you think (one mobile game made it to the top five).
The previous stat on our list kind of spoiled the popularity contest for the biggest esports. However, there are still some shocking stats you should know. The most popular games (from the tournament-views perspective) are as follows:
- League of Legends
- Dota 2
- Free Fire
- CS: GO
- Arena of Valor
- Apex Legends
- PUBG Mobile
Bet you didn’t expect any mobile games among these esport statistics, and there are two of them. The Free Fire World Series of 2019 had 2 million viewers! PUBG Mobile Club Open Global Finals had over 500 000 viewers.
11. Fortnite had the highest esports prize pool in 2019.
Kids these days only care about Fortnite, and when you hear about its prize pools, you might get interested too. The total prize pool for all Fortnite tournaments in 2019 was over $64 million!
That’s $18 million more than Dota 2, which was second in prize money, and $46 million more than CS: GO. League of Legends landed on the fourth spot, with a nearly $9 million total prize pool, which is surprisingly low for such a popular game.
12. League of Legends crushed the top 5 most popular esports games of 2019.
You already heard about LOL World Championship record-breaking numbers, but League was on top for more than that tournament alone. Its viewers racked up over 450 million hours across streaming platforms, which was much higher than the other esports titans.
CS: GO came in second with more than 284 million hours watched thanks to its many tournaments. Dota 2 followed with a total of 282 million viewing hours, only 2 million less than Counter-Strike.
The Overwatch esports ecosystem took the fourth spot with 81 million hours, which was slightly surprising due to the decline of people’s interest in this game. Number 5 on the list was Arena of Valor with 72 million hours, which is impressive for a mobile MOBA game.
13. Valorant was the most viewed game on Twitch in May 2020.
An esports-related article in 2020 wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Valorant. It is a hot new first-person shooter prospect from Riot Games (developers of League of Legends), and so far, it seems fantastic. If you take into account League of Legends esports stats, this is a promising prospect.
Even though the game has only recently passed the beta stage, many esports organizations signed professional gamers from other games over to their new Valorant teams. Cloud 9, Sentinels, Gen.g, and T1 are just some of the most known examples.
Pro FPS gamers from CS: GO, Overwatch, Apex Legends, and many other games are flocking to Valorant, which only had a few tournaments so far.
14. WoW is one of the most addictive games ever made (it had over 12 million subscribers at its peak) and it contributed a lot to the popularity of esports.
We need to clarify that these numbers would be much higher if you counted the people who played on unofficial, so-called “pirate,” servers. The number of active players has been dropping steadily ever since the game’s peak.
Even though games like World of Warcraft made it into addiction statistics, they’re not even closely as addictive as illegal drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, gambling statistics are also very worrisome, and there’s gambling in the esports world as well, which possibly deserves an article of its own.
15. PUBG was one of the most popular esports games in 2018, with over 50 million active players.
Considering that the game only had 3 million players a year before that, this milestone is truly impressive. PUBG was released to the public in March of 2017. The numbers grew exponentially until the game peaked in popularity, and then its popularity slowly dwindled.
It is still holding up, but Fortnite took over the PUBG player base since they are both in the same game category.
Esports Growth Statistics
As you can suppose, the pandemic gave a serious boost to the Esports industry. It skyrocketed, and will probably keep growing because of all those new people who discovered its magical world.
If you’re considering an Esports career, you may find yourself wondering—how much money is in esports? Can you make a living and what are the prospects? Here, we will offer some answers.
16. By 2021, experts predict there will be over 550 million esports viewers, out of which 250 million will be regular viewers.
The best representative of esports growth is certainly its viewer numbers. Newzoo’s vast study from 2018 had an interesting approach, counting both esports enthusiasts who live and breathe video games and occasional viewers who don’t fall into the hardcore gamer category.
This esports industry analysis confirmed the following:
- In 2016, there were 160 million casual esports viewers and 121 million additional “enthusiast” viewers.
- In 2017, those numbers increased to 192 million and 143 million, respectively.
- In 2018, 165 million of the total 380 million were gamers, and the others were casual watchers.
17. By 2023, more than 650 million people will be watching esports streams.
If esports by the numbers for the next year seem wild to you, the following prediction from Statista may be even more shocking. By 2023, they expect that 300 million people will watch esports religiously, while 350 million people will watch it casually.
18. The number of people across the world aware of esports nearly doubled since 2015.
General public awareness of esports is also a good show of its growth. In 2015, only about 800 million people were aware of the existence of esports. In 2019, almost 1.6 billion people knew of it. That’s nearly 20% of the current worldwide population.
That concludes our list of esports industry statistics. Esports swiftly became a lucrative industry, much to everyone’s surprise. Now, many of the world’s greatest brands invest in it, and it’s being treated like any other sport.
The growth of esports is indisputable, and this exciting new sports category is yet to peak in popularity in 2021. Do you agree with our sentiment about esports statistics? Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think.
List of Sources:
- Business Insider Esports Audience
- Business Insider Esports Industry
- Esports Charts
- Esports Earnings
- Newzoo Esports Market Report
- Statista Esports Awareness
- Statista Global Audience
- Statista Market Revenue
- Statista Market Revenue by Region
- Statista Market Revenue by Segment
- Statista PUBG
- Statista Valorant
- Statista WoW
- The Esports Observer