A video published last week by YouTube channel The Rankings shows the total prize money on offer for the top 15 esports titles since January 1, 2000. Featuring a plethora of games from the past and present of the esports scene, the video is an interesting overview of the history of competitive gaming.
Right off the bat, there’s some weirdness on display. Thanks to the smaller size of esports in the early days, relatively obscure titles such as Age of Empires, Painkiller, and even Aliens versus Predator 2 manage to make brief appearances. Notably, first-person shooter Descent 3 remains on the top-15 list until mid-2005 thanks to the $50,000 prize pool of its single competitive event, a Los Vegas tournament in 1999.
Counter-Strike holds a strong lead between January 2003 and July 2014, when Dota 2, League of Legends, and StarCraft II burst ahead, indicating the beginning of the modern esports movement. Though its star has fallen somewhat since the glory days, Dota 2 remains at the top of the list today.
It’s worth noting that the information in the video comes from Esports Earnings, a website whose ranking of prize pools is limited in a few obvious ways. For example, the site doesn’t take into account the thousands of Super Smash Bros. locals that have contributed thousands of dollars to the game’s global prize pool. But even with these caveats, the video is an entertaining and nostalgic look into esports history.