The Gravity of the Esports World Cup

The Gravity of the Esports World Cup

Everyone’s getting pulled into the Esports World Cup and it’s easy to see why.

Starting this June all the way to the end of August, the Esports World Cup will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ever since it was announced last October, every esports org, pro, and player were immediately paying attention. In fact, they’ve been pulling the attention of the entire industry towards them in the three years they’ve been around.

First known as Gamers8, they broke into the scene when they started hosting esports tournaments with record-breaking prize pools. They’ve consistently one-upped themselves every year and now, with new branding, they want to make a definitive statement. They want to be known as the event with the largest prize pool in esports history.

The Gravity of the Esports World Cup
The event has always had a lot of glitz and glamour and that certainly isn’t changing. (Photo from Arab New Sport)

That’s certainly a claim only Saudi Arabia can make and it’s understandable why orgs and players are attracted to it. Aside from a select few, most esports have slim pickings when it comes to prize money and revenue. For some esports, the prize pool for their event in the Esports World Cup actually overshadows what they offer in their big, end-of-year, world championship event.

There’s a lot of incentive then for esports orgs and players to make it to Riyadh. But with all this money being thrown around, can we really say this is beneficial to the scene? 

It’s All About the Money

It can’t be understated just how much of a motivator these million-dollar prize pools are for teams and players. It’s not farfetched to say that there’s life-changing amounts of money on the line depending on how well they do. 

Two examples: Team Liquid and Falcons AP.Bren will be representing the Philippines in the Mid-Season Cup at the Esports World Cup. Just by qualifying, they’re already guaranteed to earn more money than winning the latest season of the MPL PH. Then there’s Alexandre “AK” Laverez, our representative for Tekken 8. If he can make it to the top eight, he will have won more money than the last 10 years he’s been playing professionally.

Then there’s the Club Championship going on. Here, if an esports org places well enough in multiple tournaments they could win a seven million USD grand prize. This is largely why so many orgs have been signing more players and teams in different esports. There’s a frenzy to have as many representatives in the Esports World Cup as possible and it’s all to get a slice of those million-dollar pies.

The Gravity of the Esports World Cup
Blacklist International acquires an Apex Legends team. The team acquired was formerly 2R1C, a European team that has already qualified for the Esports World Cup. (Image from Blacklist International)
An Oasis Within a Desert 

In total, 60 million USD is being spread across 20 esports tournament prize pools. While we’ve continually pointed out the significance of the money being thrown around, it begs the question: how sustainable is this? 

There’s been many stories of downsizing in the esports industry with players and teams struggling to make ends meet. While the Esports World Cup can provide a massive booster shot to these players and teams, it doesn’t solve the main issue. It’s unreasonable to think that this push from Saudi Arabia will keep going like this indefinitely. And the thought that one singular event is propping up an entire industry does not inspire confidence. 

The Esports World Cup shines a light on the sustainability problem of esports. You can’t build an ecosystem where the money is only concentrated on the top teams. Aspirants need some way to get recognized instead of playing until they hopefully get lucky. And the developers of these esports have to consider if they’re fine with a third-party event taking all the thunder out of their own main events.

The Gravity of the Esports World Cup
Evo 2023 at Mandalay Bay. There’s a lot of passion in esports, it just needs the proper support. (Photo by Robert Paul)

These are the serious questions that those in esports need to consider moving forward. Yes, there’s a lot of hype and drama leading into the Esports World Cup but there’s volatility as well. We’re all getting pulled in and we have to be careful it doesn’t bite us in the future.

Banner photo from Esports World Cup.

Esports World Cup Secured: AK and Blacklist International are Heading to Riyadh

Kakeru Takes the 400,000 USD Prize in the Gamers8 Street Fighter 6 Invitational

Why Capcom Cup’s Million-Dollar Prize Pool is a Big Deal for Fighting Games