Overwatch has already passed the $2 million mark in prize money awarded, according to e-Sports Earnings, a site that tracks tournament earnings in esports. Overwatch streamed past the $2 million USD line after the conclusion of its 266th tracked tournament on the site, 14 months after its first.
“Overwatch Team Story - Chapter 1” was the tournament that tipped it over, as over $98,000 was awarded to its Chinese participants. As a community driven site e-Sports Earnings works with a slight delay; since the conclusion of Team Story, another 6 tournaments have already concluded while tournaments such as the $100,000 NGE Winter Premier and the ~$168,000 OGN APEX Season 2 are still being played out.
Sat at 18th place overall in lifetime esports prizemoney, Overwatch has recently overtaken Halo 3 and Super Smash Bros. Melee, both currently sat at almost $1.85 million. Overwatch is also set to overtake Counter Strike: Source and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare shortly, both of which paid out around $2.5 million before regular tournaments trickled out of existence.
When considering Overwatch’s placing in lifetime prizemoney and potential for growth, it is important to consider the game’s relative youth. Overwatch is the newest videogame on the block with regular tournaments above $100,000 and aspiration of becoming a tier one esport. It has only been out for eight months and was named the “New eSports Game of the Year” at the eSports Industry Awards 2016.
Comparing how much prizemoney was paid out during 2016 is a slightly better judge of where Overwatch ranks in the world of esports due to its late arrival. Keep in mind that the game only had its first $5,000 tournament in May 2016 and then its first $100,000 tournament halfway through the year in August though.
During 2016 Overwatch paid out over $1.91 million, putting it above tier-two esports competitors Melee, Smite, World of Tanks, and Heroes of Newerth for the year.
However its 2016 total did not match up against fellow Blizzard titles Heroes of the Storm ($4.61m), StarCraft II ($3.68m), or Hearthstone ($3.42m), and it also lags behind tier-two fps competitors Call of Duty and Halo by a considerable margin.
Naturally, it was obliterated by any metric when compared to the “big three” of League of Legends, CS:GO, and Dota 2. They paid out $10.3 million in LoL, $17.3 million in CS:GO, and a truly ridiculous $37.3 million in Dota 2. Competing with these titles seems a long way off.
The Overwatch Open remains the tournament with the largest prizepool in Overwatch, at $300,000. Taimou is Overwatch’s highest earning player, despite not winning that particular tournament, with $37,545.57 in recorded winnings.
Even when directly comparing years, Overwatch still remains in a very early phase as an esport. Blizzard will soon take a direct role in boosting the game’s prestige through the Overwatch League, with the rest of the year covered by third party tournaments. Direct developer involvement, especially on the scale of Blizzard’s ambitious plans, is likely to set a whole new pace for the game.
Given that Overwatch only began to accelerate in the summer of 2016 and OWL has yet to begin, it seems likely to contest and overtake the other tier-two esports titles within a few years - in terms of prizemoney at least. Whether it can ever compete with the biggest esports in the world - and whether the viewers follow to ensure the game is a success - remains to be seen.