With the rise of video games came the rise of esports, where gamers compete with each other in a large variety of multiplayer games. Esports, like regular sports, has many tournaments and events with celebrities of the genre involved. It is also a popular avenue for charity fundraising and awareness. In particular, 10 charitable esport events hold with the goal of contributing toward ending global poverty and helping those in need.
10 Charitable Esport Events
- ATLUS hosted a 2022 charity tournament. An event referred to as the “Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Charity Sho-Down” occurred in 2022, where winning players donated sizable monetary winnings to the charity of their choice. The first prize winner won $10,000, which went to Dysautonomia International, and second place won $5,000, which went to the ALS Association. Dysautonomia International works to fundraise for research and raise awareness of autonomic nervous system disorders while empowering patients. ALS Association works to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disorder, in the U.S. but notably participates in global research of the disorder.
- Riot Games and Twitch teamed up for the Valorant charity stream. The three-day Valorant Spike Nations of Twitch event in 2020 had 10 European teams representing their countries competing to donate portions of the $10,000 prize pool to charities of their choosing. Claiming the biggest win, the Portugal team donated $37,614 to the Portuguese Food Bank to help alleviate hunger in the country.
- A “Dota 2” event called WeSave! Charity Play to combat COVID-19. Hosted by WePlay!, the event had 24 teams and started with a $120,000 prize pool that grew as players gathered funds throughout the event. The prize pool money went to CEPI and GlobalGiving to support efforts in combating the impacts of COVID-19. CEPI brings together private, public and philanthropic sectors to assist in vaccine development while GlobalGiving is a platform that supports nonprofits by connecting them to donors.
- The $10 million FIFA 21 event to support COVID-19 vaccination. In 2021, Gamers Without Borders hosted an event with the popular football video game FIFA 21 where $1 million worth of charitable prize money went toward supporting the immunization efforts of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and UNICEF. GAVI has enabled the vaccinations of more than 981 million children, particularly in the world’s most disadvantaged nations. The second edition of the event had more elite players compete, which led to Gamers Without Borders donating $10 million to communities struggling to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of Gamers Without Borders plan to donate $30 million to humanitarian aid and stands as a notable example of how esport events support charitable causes.
- A “Dota 2” Showmatch helped support Ukraine. Popular players, such as ODPixel, participated in this event in September 2022 to help raise funds for Ukraine’s fundraising platform, United24. Fundraising through the platform is effective because “Ukraine itself knows best what is needed and can deliver aid directly, ” the United24 website says.
- Popular Twitch Streamer Ninja dabbled in charity during a 2018 “Fortnite” event. Hosted in Las Vegas, the Fortnite event gave money to fans, popular players and Ninja himself based on who won each match and how many people could take Ninja out. Ninja won one of nine matches and donated $2,500 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
- In 2023, Guild Esports partnered with U.K. blood cancer and blood disorder charity Anthony Nolan. The groups held a FIFA tournament to raise awareness of blood disorders and encourage people between the age of 16 and 24 to get involved in the cause by joining the stem cell register. Anthony Nolan has helped 1,350 patients receive stem cells from donors. The event is a notable example of how charitable esport events can make a difference by raising awareness.
- Gamers Without Borders 2022 “Rocket League” event. The event involved $2 million worth of prize winnings for charity. The third-place winner, SMPR Esports, openly announced its donation to the global child rights organization UNICEF.
- The 2023 AO Summer Smash event. The charitable gaming event involving Fortnite featured popular players such as Lazarbeam and Loserfruit and $50,000 worth of prize money for charitable causes. First place Loserfruit won $25,000 and donated it to GIVIT, which looks to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Australia.
- Gamers Beat Cancer has launched a monthly “Rocket League” event. This event, starting in 2023, aims to raise awareness and funds for U.K. charity Gamers Beat Cancer. This is through the “Rocket League” event itself and the sale of a “special edition esports jersey” to raise awareness and funding. Gamers Beat Cancer donates video games and consoles to cancer patients and assists them with other important technology that can make their lives easier.
These charitable esport events highlight the significant role that the gaming community can play in reducing global poverty and improving the lives of those in need.
– Lachlan Griffiths