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What is the most valuable esport in America?
Esports is such a global ecosystem that it’s tough to narrow esports games down to one country. There are a couple of ways of measuring what the most valuable esport in America is. Firstly, by comparing the total combined prize pool of each game. Secondly, by looking at the most valuable esports organizations from the region and finding which games they primarily compete in. Lastly, finding out how much it costs to buy a spot in the two major franchised American leagues, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and the Overwatch League.
So in terms of prize money allocated Defence of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2) is is the leader with 41 million being doled out in 2018. Though Chinese teams took home the money at Dota’s biggest event in 2018, The International 2018, American organizations like Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses have been very successful in Dota 2 in the past. This is followed by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) which gave out over 22 million in prize money last year, Team Liquid, Cloud9 and FaZe Clan are three American organizations which have found huge success in this game. The newcomer to the scene Fortnite made an instant splash in esports as it’s tournaments gave out a combined total of nearly 20 million in prize money. Three American organizations FaZe Clan, Team Liquid and Ghost Gaming took home the majority of this. Finally we have League of Legends which distributed over 14 million in prize money in 2018. American teams have largely failed to obtain large prize pots in League of Legends with these prizes often going to Korea and China’s top teams.
According to Forbes, the top five most valuable esports organizations are all from North America. These are Cloud 9, Team Solomid, Team Liquid, Echo Fox and Optic Gaming. These organizations are involved in a lot of esports but one which is common to all five is League of Legends, where each company has a place in the franchised League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). Clearly, the most valuable organizations in America value this game immensely. All but Echo Fox now also have active Fortnite players, reflecting the rapid growth of the game.
Finally, how much did it cost organizations like Team Solomid to buy into the LCS and how much did it cost organizations like Cloud9 to buy into the Overwatch League. The reported buy-in for LCS teams was between 8-10 million and for the Overwatch league it varied depending on the team but each of the initial 12 teams paid at least 20 million and new additions are reported to have paid even more.
Combining all this data together gives us a reasonably accurate picture of the most valuable esports games in North America. Overwatch and League of Legends lead the pack with respectable prize money, involvement from some of the biggest teams in North America and both have franchised leagues which are very expensive to enter. Dota 2 and CS:GO are also large esports but are slightly behind the top two and Fortnite is a clear fifth largest game but has been growing quickly.