In recent years, eSports have become increasingly popular, and thus, eSports competitors have been earning increasingly large sums of money, close to those of traditional sports athletes.
In the following list, we will take a look at 10 of the most popular and highest earning eSports competitors in the world today. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it will include competitors from a range of different eSports around the globe.
It should be noted that if we were looking at this list purely from a money perspective, then the list would mainly be comprised of Dota 2 players who win huge sums of money as a cash prize from Dota 2’s official tournament, The International.
1. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein (Dota 2)
As mentioned in the introduction, there are many high-earning professional Dota 2 players, but the highest-earning of all of them has to be N0tail.
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, along with his teammates from team OG have won The International not once, but twice.
From this, along with his former runs with the team Fnatic, earned N0tail up to $7 million, making him the top eSports competitor in terms of income across the globe. The Danish competitor has made himself a millionaire at the ripe old age of 28.
2. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka (Dota 2)
We could easily fill the list with members of team OG, but we’ll leave behind Dota 2 players after mentioning JerAx.
As part of this team, they managed to dominate the professional Dota 2 scene for a long time, putting the entire team up there among the highest-earning eSports competitors ever.
Although JerAx has since retired from the world of professional gaming, his earnings at the start of 2020 were $6.5 million, putting him near the top of our list.
3. Sven Mangus Carlsen (Chess24)
You may think this is an unlikely addition to our list, but in fact Sven Mangus Carlen was the highest-earning eSports competitor in 2020. The chess grandmaster earned a comparatively modest $590,720 from a total of 43 chess tournaments.
Although his earnings are relatively low compared to the others on this list, it is nonetheless very impressive that a chess player could be named the highest earning eSports competitor of 2020.
This is partly because The International didn’t take place in 2020, so the list of the highest-earning eSports competitors looked very different that year.
4. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf (Fortnite)
Fortnite is one of the most popular video games ever. Since its release, it has become quite the phenomena in online gaming, so it was no surprise that Epic Games would push plenty of money towards the competitive Fortnite scene.
The highest-earning competitor from this budding scene that started in 2018 was Kyle “Budga” Giersdorf, who won at the Fortnite World Cup in 2019, winning him a grand total of $3.2 million.
5. Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok (League of Legends)
Faker is, without a doubt, the best League of Legends player ever. Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok has managed to win the League of Legends World Championship three times, being one of only two people to ever do so.
At the time of writing, Faker has made as much as $1.3 million in League of Legends prize money alone.
Combined with his income from his multiple endorsement deals, along with merchandising fees, Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok is one of the highest paid eSports competitors in the world.
6. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen (CS:GO)
Winning a whopping 4 Valve Majors in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen used his unmatched skill and talent to put his team Astralis at the pinnacle of the CS:GO eSports scene.
Thanks to his unreal first-person shooter skill, he has earned over $1.9 million.
7. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth (CS:GO)
Another member of Astralis, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth is also responsible for the success of this dominant competitive CS:GO team. Thanks to this success, he has earned $1.8 million in prize money alone.
8. Ian “C6” Porter (Call of Duty)
Ian “C6” Porter is a top Call of Duty player in the North American scene. He won 3 world championships along with a whopping 37 major tournaments across the span of his successful career as an eSports competitor.
His success is partly thanks to his unmatched ability to adapt to new Call of Duty games and new rules in competitions. Over the course of his career, he has earned at least $1.2 million in prize money alone.
9. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins (Fortnite, etc)
Tyler Blevins, or better known as Ninja, is among the highest-earning Twitch streamers ever.
Over the years, he has competed in many eSports competitions, particularly in Fortnite, but the vast majority of his wealth comes from his Twitch streams. He has an estimated net worth of around $40 million.
10. Joona “Serral” Sotala (Starcraft 2)
As one of the highest-ranking non-Korean Starcraft 2 players on the planet, Serral has also become one of the highest earning players in the scene.
Born in Finland, he was the very first player not of Korean descent to be victorious in the 2018 Starcraft II World Championship Series. His earnings from prizes related to eSports are estimated to be over $1 million.
There we have it! That concludes our list of the 10 top earners in the world of eSports today. In such a fast-growing industry, we are bound to see more eSports players earning even higher sums of money.
The eSports industry is now worth over a billion dollars, and this will only grow as time goes on.
In addition to higher cash prizes at eSports events, there have been increasingly high sponsorship deals in the world of eSports. For example, Intel has sponsored the Overwatch League, having spent over $10 million.
One big advantage that eSports have over traditional sports is that players do not need to be in the same space to compete against each other, thanks to online gaming.
Because of this along with the rising popularity of eSports, the industry is predicted to grow over half a billion dollars in the coming years.