As prize pools for eSports tournaments grow ever larger (The Dota 2 International is already over $15 million, and that’s only a small portion of what Valve’s earned through the Compendium), Hi-Rez has decided to cap the Smite World Championship prize pool at a still large $1 million.
Hi-Rez wants to allow more eSports players to earn a living through the game, so it’s spreading the mostly crowd-funded prize across multiple events, creating more opportunities for more professionals to make a buck.
“In order to grow our sport over the long haul, we think it is important that we allow as many people as possible to make a living pursuing SMITE eSports,” Hi-Rez’ executive manager Stewart Chisam wrote on Reddit. “This means having as many players as we can be able to make a decent and predictable wage by playing SMITE.”
Chisam notes that of the $2.6 million pool from last year’s World Championship — of which $2 million came from the community — $1.3 million went to Cloud9, the champions, which is apparently money per player than the winners of the Super Bowl make, though it should be noted that there are a lot more than 5-players in a Super Bowl team, and there are many opportunities to earn bonuses.
In Season One, Chisam continues, the top 4 teams took away over 90 percent of that year’s prizes. After talking with Smite players, team owners and eSports professionals outside of Smite, Hi-Rez decided that the disproportionate prize pool allocations weren’t healthy for Smite.
“In order to encourage growth of the sport, then, we are making a shift in our strategy this year,” Chisam explains. “We want to spreading our prizing out over more events and to more players. Instead of five players getting a massive windfall for winning the World Championship, and 20 players sharing 90% of the prizing, now more players will have the opportunity to earn money over more events throughout the year. We just believe that is fundamentally better for the sport and for the players.”
So the Championship prize pool will be capped, but there will be more events outside of it, and the rest of the money will be spread across those competitions. Between the Summer Split and the Summer Showdown this July, Hi-Rez will give out $300,000 in prize money, with even the poorest performing team earning $10,000.
If the rate of crowdfunding continues, Hi-Rez expects to give out more than $2 million in prize money this year, but in a “smarter way”.