Epic Make Huge Fortnite Pledge

2021 promises to be a big year in the world of Fortnite, as developers Epic have announced a $20m (€16.4m) prize pool for this season’s tournaments.

That is an increase of $3m (€2.47m) from 2020, although it does not quite reach the heights of the 2019 World Cup, which saw $30m (€24.7m) in prizes handed out. It does make a strong statement of intent from Epic though, as they also outline ambitious plans for the year’s tournaments.

Given the recent situation around the world, a physical tournament is not possible, so everything will be conducted online. The first qualifiers for the tournament will begin in February, leading into finals which begin on March 12. As they expand their reach in Europe, Epic have also announced that there will be three new broadcasts in German, French and Spanish, as they seek to widen their appeal in Europe.

That will mark the start of four seasons throughout 2021, each of which will have $3m (€2.47m) in prize money available. As for the other $8m (€6.5m), Epic suggests it will be spread across other competitions, as they explained to The Times of eSports: “We also have plans for mid and end of year competitions where we will bring together the top-performing FNCS players in each region in multiple competitive formats.”

Whilst Fortnite is a successful platform for gamers and viewers, it is not one of the top two eSports, certainly not coming out of 2020. League of Legends and Dota 2 are the largest two, with LoL holding the spot for the most hours watched by a significant margin, not least in part due to its multi-day format. Dota competition The International also did well, drawing 88m hours watched and surpassed $34m (€27.9m) in prize money in 2019, making it the largest eSport to date in terms of financial reward. The winning team, OG, took $15.62m (€12.8m), with Team Liquid finishing second and raking in $4.4m (€3.6m).

Whilst Dota is the most lucrative, and LoL the most-watched, plenty of other titles draw huge viewing figures and decent prizes as well. EA Sports title FIFA provides plenty of thrills for viewers and is revealed by Bwin to have 3.4m Twitch viewers, which is a strong foundation for its future as an eSport. Prize money might not be quite as lucrative as some, with the eWorld Cup winner taking home around $250,000 (€207,000), whilst the winner of the eChampions League picks up $100,000 (€83,000). However, whilst the prize money of the bigger titles currently dwarfs that of FIFA, the worldwide popular appeal of football is likely to see prize money increase over the next five or ten years.

Away from representations of actual sports, Fortnite is certainly a major player, whilst Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is another which has an impressive prize pool and strong viewership. The prize pool per tournament for competitions on CS: GO usually reach $1m (€820k) each. That alone underlines why the Epic Games announcement is so significant for players and teams the world over because it ensures the shooter stakes a claim as one of the most lucrative games. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup saw winner Bugha secure a $3m (€2.47m) prize pot, leaving it ahead of LoL 2018 World Championship, which saw Invictus Gaming take $2.41m (€1.9m). Big prizes mean the interest of significant teams remains focused on Epic’s title.

Fortnite was initially pitched at the 2011 Spike Video Gaming Awards as a coop survival game, but by 2013 had evolved into a Battle Royale format which it has become famous for. It is believed that much of the success can be attributed to another title, PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, which had over 10m registered players, but also involved a cost to get started. Fortnite floated a free-to-play model and immediately benefitted by stealing market share. Since then, it has remained relevant by adapting on a regular basis, introducing the Battle Pass and constantly evolving the island and cosmetics.

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There is no denying the popularity Fortnite has, and now with the significant new prize pool, it is likely to remain one of the leading eSports in the world today. With new esports titles rising each year we can’t wait to see esports gaming becoming a billion dollar industry.

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