Leffen talks about the distribution of prize pools at EVO
Image courtesy of EVO

Following his Super Smash Bros. Melee win at EVO this weekend, TSM Leffen took to Twitter to announce that he would be sharing his prize money. In a long thread, he expressed disappointment in the way the FGC distributes monetary winnings. He said he would give some of the prize money to players in fifth/seventh place, and that if they didn’t want it, he would donate it to a charity of their choosing.

Leffen used the social platform to educate surprised fans on the reality of playing competitively “full time.” He said that because of the way prize money is distributed, few pro players are able to play full time. Only those at the very top are making enough to live on, in terms of both money and endorsements. This system potentially locks out new competitors who are unable to devote the same amount of time to practice.

Prize pool money on its own can be an unstable source of income for pro players. The enormous difference between first, second, and subsequent places contributes to the instability of the competitive FGC scene as a whole. As with other competitive titles, only top-level players, backed by big teams and patrons, consistently appear in tournament finals. This is largely due to prominent organisations being able to pay their players a livable wage. Those players are then able to focus on their preparations for competition.

Leffen suggests a flatter division of the prize money between the Top 8 contenders. One of his Twitter followers gives the breakdown of the division as it currently stands.

A split of 60/20/10/4/2/2/1/1 may work for other titles where the prize pools are $1 million and above. 1% of a million is still $10,000 after all. But the reality is that the FGC prize pools are still very low across all tournaments.

Sadly, this isn’t anything new to come from the FGC. After his EVO 2015 Super Smash Bros. Melee win, Armada said that the cut for first place was too big as well. No one wants to see the winner get shafted for all their hard work. But, everyone does want a stable competitive scene which attracts new players. Hopefully, as the FGC grows, and more and more tournaments pop up internationally, prize pools for the players will also increase.

Suzy Darlington
Based in Australia, I owe my love of esports to my partner’s involvement with Masterminds Gaming Club. In my spare time, I write game reviews for Neon Lights Gaming and troll my favourite streamers’ Twitch chats. I like to eat Nutella straight out of the jar, and If I invite you out for coffee, it means “You can have a coffee if you want; I’m getting a triple-choc Nutella popcorn milkshake with cookie crumb”.