Highest Earning Esports Players And How They Got There

eSports is a lucrative and popular industry, and there is a small percentage of streamers and eSports players who earn extreme amounts of money each year. 

Highest Earning Esports Players And How They Got There

eSports is more accessible than it was, and players have the means to further their earnings and passion for the industry through brand deals, sponsorships, and social media presence. 

Some eSports players earn more than $1 million dollars a year, but who is the highest paid eSports player, and how on earth did they end up earning that much?

Well, this is exactly what we’re going to talk about. Find out more about the top paid eSports players and streamers, and how they got there.

You never know, it could be you one day! 

Why Is eSports Profitable? 

As we have learned, eSports is wildly profitable. However, this is not just the gaming itself. The money that is made from eSports and for eSports players is mostly obtained from sponsorships and brand deals.

It is estimated that sponsorships are responsible for almost 40% of the money made in the eSports industry. That’s a huge amount! Two years ago, sponsorships actually generated over half a billion dollars for the eSports community. 

eSports is profitable due to these brand deals and sponsorships. eSports is unique, so it naturally generates a lot of viewers, and the streams are really important when it comes to making money in the industry.

A large amount of the profit in the eSports industry also comes from LAN events. LAN stands for local area network, and this is where a gathering of people will come together and play games together.

There are lots of these events held every year, usually in community centers and gaming locations. 

eSports is often backed by investors, and these are often brands and companies that are willing to invest time and money into eSports teams and players in order for more traction and attention for their brands.

eSports is mostly a media/digital investment opportunity. The budgets of teams and competitions are huge for this reason, and there are often large stakes on offer when winning a game. 

How Do eSports Teams Make Money? 

There are various ways that eSports teams make money. As we already know, sponsorships and brand deals make up almost half of this, but what about the other half? The revenue from eSports is pretty unknown to the public.

This is partly because eSports makes a lot of its money through sponsorships and branding that the public do not necessarily notice. To be popular and rich in the eSports industry, it is important to gradually build your brand and team.

As you start to get more attention with brands, your likelihood of becoming popular from your streams and social media will sky rocket. 

Sponsorships/Branded Partnerships

Due to how popular eSports is to watch, a lot of the money is now made from behind the scenes sponsorships. We learned above that this makes up almost 50% of the money in the eSports industry.

Brands will recognize the influence and attention that the eSports indsutry makes, and they will market their company through the eSports audience. 

Additionally, hardware and electronics are some of the biggest partners in eSports. This because it has to be relevant to the audience who watch the eSports.

They are more likely to be interested in headphones and VR sets than protein shakes or candles. 


Tournaments are what people think make the most amount of money, but eSports is not specifically centered around tournaments anymore. It is the simplest way to make money in eSports, but it is not the most profitable.

This is not a consistent way to make money in eSports, and this is because it is unlikely that you will be the team that is winning the largest prize pool. 

Tournaments are great for amateurs rather than fully professional eSports players. This is due to the fact that the stakes are higher with more professional teams, and it is difficult to maintain this as a consistent form of income for eSports teams. 

To add to the inconsistencies of tournaments for eSports income, the winnings in tournaments depends on the performance of the players in the eSports team that has won.

This means that is can prove difficult to source players who are not willing to consider joining the more popular and infamous teams.

It’s always good to recognize that winning tournaments all year round is not a feasible option and this is because the most popular players will be part of the bigger teams. 


Merchandise is a great way for eSports players to make extra money, especially if they already have a notorious and popular reputation. This is because the more popularity and watchers that they have, the more merchandise will be in demand.

They can create a brand of their own through this merchandise, providing a pretty steady income source for eSports players and streamers. The merchandise will encourage a loyal fan base for streamers and eSports players.


Streaming is one of the most consistent forms of income for eSports players. There is a lot of freedom in streaming, and eSports teams do not invest all of their money into their players, meaning players often stream too. 

eSports teams want to add and invest in players who add the star power to their handpicked teams. They want a bigger audience for their tournaments and streams.

The more subscribers and watchers that a streamer has, the easier it is to make money from sponsorships from their audience.

You may also see product placement and recommendations in streams. This is because the companies and the streamers will make money when you buy a product. 

The more revenue an eSports team has from a wide array of these aspects of making money in the eSports industry, the more likely they are to succeed and carry out a long term career. 

Who Are The Most Popular eSports Players? 

eSports players come from all over the world, and they play for many teams, playing lots of different games. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best and most popular eSports players. 

Faker (Lee Sang-hyeok) 

Faker is a South Korean eSports player who plays League of Legends. He is renowned as one of the best League of Legends players of all time. He is the part owner of team T1.

He is a mid laner, and it is estimated that he has earned $4 million since the start of his eSports journey. This is including the $1.3 million in prize money alone. He also makes a few thousand dollars a month in YouTube streams. 

Xyp9x (Andreas Højsleth) 

Andreas Højsleth belongs to the Astralis team, and he has been playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as a professional eSports athlete for years.

He has been playing since 2011, and he is a rifler. He is from Denmark, and he got his name from a randomized smash on his keyboard! His net worth is estimated to be almost $2 million. 

Dupreeh (Peter Rothmann Rasmussen)

Dupreeh is also part of the Astralis team. He is Danish, and he plays Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for Team Vitality. He has played for an array of teams, including Team SoloMid, and Team Dignitas.

He has been playing eSports since 2012, and he currently serves the role as a rifler. 

Ppd (Peter Dager)

Ppd is a professional Dota 2 players. He plays for Evil Geniuses, and he has made approximately $3 million in winnings during his career in eSports. He has been gaming since 2013. In 2021, he stopped competing, and has turned to coaching instead. 

N0tail (Johan Sundstein) 

N0tail is a Danish Dota 2 player who is on the inactive roster of the OG team. He used to play for Cloud9, as well as Team Secret.

He has played the international eSports championships four times, and has won two out of four of those times. He has also won four huge eSports championships. 

MATUMBAMAN (Lasse Aukusti Urpalainen)

MATUMBAMAN has been playing Dota 2 for over 8 years. He was previously a member of team Liquid, but he joined team Secret in 2019.

He is from Finland, and he is currently played the role of carry and mid laner. 2022 is going to be his last year of playing Dota 2 professionally, and it is likely he will go into coaching. 

Puppey (Clement Ivanov) 

Puppey is an Estonian eSports player who plays Dota 2. He is the founding member of team Secret, who he currently still plays for.

He is one of the best known eSports players who plays Dota 2, and he won the international eSports championship in 2011, winning the stake of $1 million. He currently plays the support role. 

Who Are The Most Popular eSports Teams? 

Who Are The Most Popular eSports Teams 


DWG KIA are a South Korean team. They play League of Legends, and their head coach is Daenuy. They play for the KRKorea region, and they are sponsored by KIA, Adidas, Logitech, and Zinus.

Team Secret

Team Secret is one of the biggest and best eSports teams in the world, representing a large array of professional gamers. They play Dota 2, and their head coach is Heen. They are primarily a European team, and their team captain is Puppey.

It is thought that they have achieved winnings of over $15 million since they formed in 2014. Some of their sponsors include Corsair, Uniswap, 1JingJi, Predator, Maxis, and Scrimlabs. 


Astralis is a Danish eSports team. They are known for playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive. They also have teams who play other games such as League of Legends and FIFA.

Their head coach is Ave, and their manager is Kasper Hvidt. Some of their sponsors include Logitech, Unibet, Turtle Beach, and OMEN by HP. 

FaZe Clan

FaZe Clan is one of the most popular eSports team, and they have a huge media following. They were founded in 2010, and they play Call of Duty, as well as Counter-trike: Global Offensive.

They have a huge fan base and YouTube channel where they make humorous and interesting videos. Some of their notable members include Banks, King, Jinx, Sensi, and Sprago. Some of their sponsors include Nissan, Verizon, Draft Kings, and McDonald’s. 

Team Liquid

Team Liquid are a leading professional eSports team. The teammates compete in StarCraft 2, League of Legends, and Dota 2. They were founded in 2000, and some of their members include Bwipo, Hans Sama, and Bjergsen. 

They are partnered with some prestigious brands including Honda, Monster Energy, Verizon, Twitch, and Alienware. 

Evil Geniuses

Evil Geniuses are another popular and successful eSports team. They are a League of Legends and Dota 2 team, and they were founded in 1999. Some of their notable players include Impact, Vulcan, Turtle, and Arteezy.

Some of their sponsors include Wolverhampton Wanderers, Monster Energy, Bud Light, and Elysian Brewing. 

Who Are The Highest Earning eSports Players?

Now, let’s get on to the good stuff. Who are the highest earning eSports players, and how did they get to where they are? 

1. N0tail (Johan Sundstein)

We’ve already spoken about Johan briefly, but he’s one of the highest earning eSports players in the world. He has the highest earnings of any eSports player. He is the captain of the OG team, which is one of the world’s most successful Dota 2 teams.

Over his career in eSports, it is estimated that he has earned just under $7 million. For this reason, he is known as the richest competitive gamer in the industry. 

How Did He Get There? 

Well, Johan had been playing Dota 2 since it first came out, and since he was around 15. Persistence and passion is what has got Johan so far in the eSports industry, and he is keen to continue for many years to come. 

2. Ana (Anatham Pham) 

Ana is a well-versed Dota 2 player, who plays for the OG team. It is estimated that since the start of his career, he has earned $6 million from gaming. He tends to focus on winning huge tournaments rather than small events.

This has proven lucky for him! He is one of the most determined players in the OG teams, and he has a very strict routine and daily life for this reason. He moved to China when he was 16, where he first played with the Invictus team. 

How Did He Get There? 

Ana has been determined to get to the top of the eSports industry, and he’s pretty much there. As we just learned, he moved to China at the young age of 16 to pursue a life in the gaming industry.

Before this, he had been playing Dota 2 for years, continuously coming into the top rankings of the game. He is the third best paid cyber athlete in the whole world. 

3. JerAx (Jesse Vainikka) 

JerAx is a Dota 2 player who also played for the OG team. He is now retired, but by the end of his career, he had made $6.5 million dollars.

He is now playing as a support player, to try to build other teammates up to his level. He previously played for team Liquid, but team OG won him over, securing most of his money at the international competitions. 

How Did He Get There? 

JerAx moved teams from team Liquid to team OG in his early years. This was clearly a really good decision, as his earnings began to take off straight away.

He rode to victory in 2019 at the international eSports event, making him the second-richest player in eSports, and in the OG team. 

4. KuroKy (Kuro Takhasomi) 

KuroKy is a German/Iranian eSports player, and it is estimated that he has earned almost $5.5 million dollars since the start of his career. He also plays Dota 2, and he plays for team Nigma.

Team Nigma are not as big as some of the other teams in eSports, but KuroKy has surpassed a lot of other players on these teas.

He is one of the top players in Dota 2, and he has been around for a few years. He is played for many teams, including team Secret, Liquid, and Natus Vincere. 

How Did He Get There? 

KuroKy is one of the most determined and passionate players in the eSports industry. He dreamed of being one of the biggest players, and now he is captain of the team.

He had disabilities in his legs, meaning he spent a lot of time playing games because he could not take part in sports.

This is a big reason as to why KuroKy is so successful and rich. Before the game out, he was always deeply passionate about gaming. 

5. Matumbaman (Lasse Urpalainen) 

Lasse is one of the top players in Dota 2, and we have already learned a bit about how he got there. It is estimated that he has made $3.7 million dollars since the start of his career, and he is relatively new.

Team Secret does not have the biggest team of successful top-earning players, but Matumbaman is one of them. Dota 2 rakes in the most amount of money, and this is exactly why he is so successful. 

How Did He Get There? 

Matumbaman got to where he is by religiously playing Dota 2, as well as being a talented player. Dota 2 players earn the most amount of money compared to some other games, hence why he is so rich.

He broke into the team and the game at just the right time to secure some of the best championships and partnerships. 

Final Thoughts

eSports is an interesting industry, with some of the richest pro-athletes. There is a lot of potential to make money in the eSports industry, and this is due to the many avenues of money-making.

There are sponsorships, partnerships, merchandise, and streaming possibilities. All of these pro-gamers that we have mentioned have displayed some of the strongest determination, hence why they are where they are today. 

Thank you for reading! 

Ashley Newby