The winners of Dota 2's The International 2019 and the Fortnite World Cup were paid more per-player than the winners of Wimbeldon and The Masters this year, making esports more lucrative in single-tournament prizing than traditional sports like golf and tennis. The Fortnite World Cup paid out $30 million in prizes to its participants, crowning a young champion who instantly became an internet celebrity, while The International 2019 surpassed Fortnite's record-setting total just weeks later with an over $33 million prize pool that awarded a staggering total in excess of $15 million to its winning team, OG.
The discussion around the viability of esports as a career is beginning to calm down as more support for aspiring, semi-pro players begins to be developed by organizations interested in maintaining a pro scene, but it wasn't too long ago that many were concerned over the longevity of the competitive gaming career. Since then, fans have witnessed countless pro players garner huge social media followings and impressive prize money payouts, and now some parents are much more receptive to the idea their child may have a future in gaming. Colleges are even offering esports scholarships now, with the intent of cultivating a strong collegiate team that can feed into some of the major organizations present in games like Dota 2, Fortnite, and League of Legends.
Still, there is an underlying perception with regards to esports that it's still a "fledgling" scene, one that has a lot of growing to do. While that may be true, it doesn't mean it hasn't already arrived in the greater public consciousness, and a tweet from noted esports analyst Slasher showcases just how embedded esports is in popular culture - the winners of the most recent major tournaments in Dota 2 and Fortnite were paid more than Novak Djokovic and Tiger Woods for their respective tournament wins earlier this year.
it pays to play video games— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 25, 2019
esports is love, esports is life pic.twitter.com/g6qt2nJDg1
With more support than ever being thrown behind aspiring esports athletes, it might not be too long before more young people recognize Johan "N0tail" Sundstein than they do Novak Djokovic. While the treatment of players in esports still requires some work - one need look no further than Tfue's dispute with FaZe Clan to see that there are still plenty of missteps involved in growing the scene - it's without a doubt a fixture of sports in general now.
What does that mean for the future? As esports becomes a more legitimate pursuit for young people who find they have a natural ability at competitive games, it's entirely possible a much bigger influx of talent enters the scene over the next few years. That will likely grow esports even more, meaning fans might not even be experiencing the tip of the iceberg of what the competitive outlet has to offer both viewers and competitors - an enticing prospect, given that Dota 2's concurrent viewership of The International was already flirting with 2 million people this past weekend.