The Superbowl? Red Bull’s leap from the edge of space? The NBA finals? If you think these events bring in a big crowd, check out these live eSports events that have the biggest audiences on the planet.
#5. DOTA2 The International 2015, Seattle
Attendance: 10,000, and 20 million online viewers
Prize pool: $18 million
The International is the most important eSports event in the DOTA2 calendar, and for competitors, is the equivalent of playing in the World Cup Final.
Valve, the American video game development company which makes DOTA, rustled up a cool $18 million jackpot for the event. To date, this is the biggest prize pool for an eSports tournament.
KeyArena allocated 10,000 tickets for the eSports event, which was sold out in less than an hour — a testament to the industry’s growing popularity.
Reportedly many seats were left empty, attributed to fans’ favourite team Na’Vi going out early in the competition. DOTA2, The International is seen as the principle live event in eSports tournaments.
#4. League of Legends World Finals 2013, LA
Attendance: 12,000 / 32 million online viewers
Prize pool: $1 million
The 2013 edition of the League of Legends World Final is considered by many as the rise of eSports into the big leagues of spectator sports.
Hosted in the Staples Center (home to the LA Lakers) — with 12,000 tickets sold in under an hour —, it was the site of the largest live eSports event ever. This LoL event saw Korean team SK Telecom T1 defeat Chinese team Royal Club, to win the prize pool of $1 million and the coveted LoL Summoner’s Cup.
32 million people watched the event through various streaming services, from YouTube to Xbox 360 consoles. This huge attendance meant that more people tuned in to see LoL than either the NBA World Finals or the World Series in 201 3.
#3. ESL One DOTA 2 2015, Frankfurt
Prize pool: $250,000+
In the DOTA calendar, before The International comes ESL; an 8-team eSports event hosted at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt, Germany.
The 52,000 seat stadium, which usually hosts global football finals, saw Team Secret topple Evil Geniuses to win the first prize of $118,481.
Despite being a warm up for The International a staggering 52,000 fans took their places to watch the live gameplay.
#2. ESL Intel Extreme Masters 2014, San Jose
Attendance: 12,500 / 4 million online
Prize pool: $50,000
In 2014, San Jose’s SAP Center hosted 12,500 eSports fans for the final of ESL Intel Extreme Masters. The Shark Tank, as it is affectionately known, saw gamers from around the world flock to the venue for the two-day gaming tournament.
Four million viewers also tuned in from home, via YouTube and Twitch TV to watch.
A cumulation of finals from several popular games — including League of Legends —, IEM 2014 was one of the biggest eSports tournaments on American soil.
#1. League of Legends World Final 2014, Seoul
Attendance: 45,000 / 27 million online
Prize pool: $2.13 million
In 2002 Seoul’s Sangam stadium hosted games for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. When the same stadium sells out for a League of Legends World Final, you know eSports events are getting big.
League of Legends (LoL) already has more active players than there are residents of France, and a whopping 45,000 fans snagged tickets to watch 16 teams compete for glory.
No expense was spared, with fireworks and a live performance by American band Imagine Dragons included in the entertainment lineup.
27 million viewers watched the finals online, with 11 million tuning in at peak time. This figure eclipsed the 8.5 million who logged in to view the 2013 finals.
Naysayers might call eSports a nerdy pursuit, but LoL victors can walk away with millions and amongst their legions of dedicated fans, are as idolised as LeBron James or Floyd Mayweather.
The 2014 LoL final in Seoul was broadcast over 40 channels, in 19 languages, viewed by millions — and this eSports tournament is only going to get bigger.