The world’s best eSports teams have gathered in China to battle for the championship in the World Electronic Sports Games finals end of 2016. After an extravagant opening, the best of 60,000 players from 120 countries and regions came to Changzhou to participate in the event, hoping to win a share of the USD 5.5 million pool prize.
When it comes to eSports, the World Electronic Sports Games are entirely next level thanks to gigantic prize pools, unusual rules, and inconsistent live streams.
The World Electronic Sports Games (WESG) 2016 took place at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center, a venue holding 38,000 that was originally constructed for the 2008 Summer Olympics. After months of regional qualifying, four groups of six teams each competed in tournaments for Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, and StarCraft II. What the event seemingly lacked in forethought and production coordination, it made up for with its opening ceremony and prize money.
Despite being in its first year, however, the event was flush with cash thanks to its sponsor, Alibaba. That’s why an investment of $150 million by the Chinese eCommerce giant is able to manufacture an entire months-long series of international eSports competitions with $5.5 million in prizes for the winning teams.
The winners of each tournament walked away with more cash than most of their peers will win all year long. Big purses can’t buy a tournament prestige, but they can certainly make other people take note. Team EnVyUs, for instance, took first place at the WESG’s Counter-Strike tournament, and in so doing won $800,000, a sum that accounts for practically 50% of the team’s lifetime winnings to-date.
It was the same for the Philippines’ TNC Pro Team, whose past winnings were almost entirely due to a surprisingly successful performance at TI6, the biggest annual Dota 2 tournament crowd-sourced prize pools in excess of $20 million. TNC didn’t face anywhere near the same level of competition at WESG 2016 on its way to taking first place against Cloud9, but still earned $800,000.
This was due to the tournament’s nation-based competitive structure. Many of the best teams in Dota 2 and Counter-Strike, or any eSport for that matter, draw from citizens from around the world. WESG, however, in a bid to do something that more closely resembles the World Cup or the Olympics, required the teams competing in it to all hail from a single country. Teams like TNC and EnVyUs, who already happened to meet this requirement, had a leg up as a result, while other dominant teams were forced to sit the event out.