How Much Do Overwatch League Players Make?
Professional esports can certainly be a deceptively lucrative endeavor. While public perception still isn’t particularly favorable, it stems from an inherent lack of understanding about the whole profession. Universities are now providing esports scholarships, there are hundreds of millions of dollars up for grabs each year across multiple titles and competitions, streamer culture has reached an all-time high and overall viewership numbers are through the roof!
All of this tells us a singular tale: being a professional esport player is a legitimate career.
Still, like many other professions, it is a career that isn’t without its faults and challenges. Reaching the top is extremely hard and staying there is even harder. Constant meta shifts and game changes make the lives of esports players living hell, and only those who can adapt and overcome such hurdles eventually get to reap the rewards.
Fortunately, there are many rewards to be reaped, especially in the Overwatch League.
So in this article, we’ll just focus on the Overwatch League and the total amount of money that players earned throughout the 2019 season.
Overwatch League 2019
When it comes to the Overwatch League, the final season playoffs have the biggest prize pool — a total of $3,500,000 split between the top eight teams.
The final sum is divided in the following way:
- 1st Place: $1,100,000 (San Francisco Shock)
- 2nd Place: $600,000 (Vancouver Titans)
- 3rd Place: $450,000 (New York Excelsior)
- 4th Place: $350,000 (Hangzhou Spark)
- 5th-6th Place: $300,000 (Atlanta Reign & Los Angeles Dynasty)
- 7th-8th Place: $200,000 (Seoul Dynasty & London Spitfire)
Obviously, the team that wins it all stands to earn the most, but even those who fail to leave much of a mark in the grand scheme of things earn a hefty sum of money for their valiant efforts.
The regular season, on the other hand, has a $1,500,000 prize pool that is divided across three Stage Playoffs. The team that wins a Stage earns a flat sum of $500,000. Not too shabby.
Here are the individual Stage earnings:
- Stage 1 Winner: Vancouver Titans ($500k)
- Stage 2 Winner: San Francisco Shock ($500k)
- Stage 3 Winner: Shanghai Dragons ($500k)
In theory, a team that wins all four playoffs (three Stages + the final playoffs) can earn a whopping $2.6 million. Such a thing has yet to happen, but it’s certainly not impossible.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) September 25, 2019
Overwatch League Player Salaries
Every player has a minimum yearly salary of $50,000. This, as mentioned, is just the minimum. Teams can definitely offer much more than that, as evidenced by Jay “Sinatraa” Won’s contract ($150,000 per year) with the San Francisco Shock. There were also many rumors of $200k and $300k salaries for some top-tier players, but nothing was ever made official.
Most top-tier players reportedly have six-figure contracts and — in some cases — have certain revenue sharing options available as well. We don’t have any concrete information in this case as none of this is public knowledge.
Who Earned the Most?
As evidenced by the numbers above, San Francisco Shock earned the most money during the sophomore season of the Overwatch League — a total of $1.6 million in just a couple of months’ time.
The Vancouver Titans come in second with an equally impressive (albeit smaller) sum — $1.1 million. When the prize pool is this big, coming in second or third is also a worthwhile achievement, especially considering the fact that these are life-changing amounts of money.
Is there money in Overwatch?
Absolutely. And, quite frankly, there’s a lot of it. If you’re at the top — and we are talking about a very exclusive club here — you stand to earn a lot more than you could’ve ever imagined. These are astronomical numbers, and they’re only getting bigger. How high they’ll eventually rise still remains to be seen, but the steady increase in player salaries and prize pools is definitely a positive thing.
That said, if you’re not at the very top (i.e. playing in the Overwatch League), if you’re not a part of the crème de la crème, then you’re not earning nearly as much. In fact, many smaller leagues aren’t paying their players and teams on time, and even when they are, the prize pools are meagre, if not abysmal.
That’s perhaps the one thing that has to change going forward — pay discrepancy. The Overwatch League will only prosper if it has a pool of young talent to sign players from, and for such a thing to be possible, playing in the “B leagues” has to be worthwhile. A healthy esport is one that is rewarding at all levels of play — not just at the very top.
Some are arguing that Overwatch League player salaries and prize pools need to increase, given just how much League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 pros get to earn, but that’s not a fair comparison, given Overwatch’s relatively recent release date. For a game that is still in its esports infancy, the current numbers are more than satisfying. And, if things continue developing in such a positive direction, they’ll increase at a steady pace — organically and naturally.
That said, with Blizzard charging around $60 million per Overwatch League spot, it’s fair to say that most of that money isn’t going to the players. Hopefully, that will change in the foreseeable future.