How much do professional gamers make?
That’s our million-dollar question for today.
Short answer: a lot…
It’s no secret that the world of competitive gaming has seen an exponential rise in the past few years.
Some of the top eSports tournaments are set up like any traditional sporting match, with two or more teams competing for the prize.
With hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, tournament prize pools now rival some of the most popular events in traditional sports.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the most recent eSports earnings statistics.
- eSports prize pools are estimated to exceed $300 million in 2019.
- Dota 2 is the highest paying game of the year, with prize money reaching over $218 million.
- Johan “N0tail” Sundstein became the highest-paid eSports player of all time, earning a $6.8 million payout.
- Team Liquid is the highest-earning team, with winnings totaling $33.5 million.
- The average eSports player earns around $60,000 per year.
- Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is the top League of Legends earner, receiving a $1.2 million payout.
- Pro gamers earn an average of $1,000 to $5,000 per month.
Not bad for a day’s work, is it?
Let’s find out more, starting with:
eSports World Championships Statistics
Competitive gaming has a massive global audience, which increases by the millions with each passing year. Steam stats indicate that the video game distribution platform saw 18 million concurrent users in 2018. Meanwhile, eSports’ global TV and online audience reached an astonishing 395 million.
In terms of revenue, it’s still far behind from heavy hitters such as the National Football League. Nevertheless, its global revenue is projected to go over the $1 billion mark this year. That will be a massive 27% increase from the preceding year.
1. Team Liquid is one of the world’s top eSports companies, amassing $33.5 million in 2019.
Team OG’s five players are the highest-paid players in eSports history, after winning the most prize money in a single game. However, they don’t have the highest overall team earnings.
Check this out:
Having participated in 1,595 tournaments, Team Liquid is the highest-earning team of all time, with total winnings exceeding $33.5 million. Team OG comes second, accumulating $33.4 million in earnings.
2. The US has the highest eSports earnings by country, winning over $131 million in prize money.
Currently, the US is the top country in eSports in terms of earnings. The latest data shows that 15,385 American professional gamers took home a whopping total of $131,917,807.09. China comes in second with 4,217 professional gamers, amassing more than $104 million in prize money from eSports competitions.
The US and China are the only countries that have hit the $100 million mark.
3. Of all the biggest eSports organizations, SoloMid and Cloud9 are the most valuable.
In the Forbes annual list of the most valuable eSports organizations, two teams share the top spot—SoloMid and Cloud9.
According to their annual report, Cloud9 is now worth an incredible $400 million. This year, the team made $29 million in revenue. SoloMid is estimated to be worth $400 million as well. Meanwhile, their team earned a whopping $35 million in revenue.
4. Dota 2 is the highest paying game of all time based on eSports earnings in 2019.
There’s no denying it:
Dota 2 is the highest paying game of all time. In the past few years, it has been offering some of the biggest prize pools the industry has ever seen. The biggest by far was at The International 2019, surpassing last year’s prize money.
To be exact, Dota 2 has given away a total of $218,098,135.31 to 3,535 players across 1,284 tournaments.
How about that?
5. Team OG has the highest Dota 2 eSports earnings in a single game.
After their historic win at The International 2019, Team OG became the top league in Dota 2. Not to mention that they received the highest earnings in a single game! They took home 45.5% of the single biggest tournament prize pool in the industry’s history.
That’s $15.6 million of the $34 million prize money. Following Team OG’s win, their players became the five all-time top earners.
6. G2’s League of Legends eSports earnings reached nearly $900,000.
In League of Legends, two teams reign supreme: G2 Esports and SK Telecom. Both leagues have earned two titles as well as a Rift Rivals crown from competing against leading teams in their region.
That being said, G2 has taken the lead in terms of prize money. They received a massive payout at the Mid-Season Invitational, which brought their total earnings close to $900,000. Meanwhile, SK’s earned a total of $450,000 in prize money earnings.
7. Danish team Astralis’s eSports earnings in CSGO reached $1 million.
Danish eSports team Astralis is one of the best in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. After winning both Major tournaments in 2019, they brought home a total of $1 million in prize money.
Another successful team in CSGO is Team Liquid. They could hardly break the top four in this year’s majors. However, they earned several other titles, winning more than $2 million in prize money.
8. Lazarus Esports earnings in Fortnite reach over $3 million.
Canadian eSports team Lazarus had a profitable run during July’s Fortnite World Cup even though they couldn’t secure a victory royale. Jaden Ashman and Dave Jong still won the prestigious second place in the duos competition, while Nate Kou placed fourth in the solo round.
So, Lazarus went home with more than $3 million in prize money. If we include their winnings throughout the entire year, we get a little over $4 million.
9. G2 Esports, one of the biggest eSports teams, earned a chunk of their winnings from Rainbow Six Siege.
Rainbow Six Siege is turning out to be a lucrative eSports discipline. G2 Esports earned roughly $800,000 after winning the game’s first major tournament—Six Invitational. They also received $490,000 in winnings from League of Legends, $400,000 from the Mid-Season Invitational, $227,000 from Counter-Strike, and $162,000 from Rocket League.
Not bad at all, is it?
10. The San Francisco Shock is one of the top eSports teams in Overwatch.
US-based eSports team San Francisco Shock is the number one Overwatch team in the world. They’ve won 55 matches and lost 33 of them. They’ve also earned a total of $1.5 million in prize money.
South Korean team Element Mystic comes second in the global Overwatch rankings, earning $241,757 in prize money. They are currently the top team in China and South Korea.
11. Upcoming Valve-sponsored Counter-Strike Major tournaments will have a $1 million prize.
Check this out:
Next year’s Counter-Strike Major tournaments won’t follow the CS GO Major 2019 schedule. This year, the Intel Extreme Masters was held from February to March, while the StarLadder Berlin Major was held from August to September.
The first 2020 Valve-sponsored CSGO tournament will kick-off sometime in May, while the second Major championship will be held around November.
One thing remains the same:
The prize money.
The prize pool will still be worth $1 million in both upcoming Major tournaments, as it has been since 2016.
Which brings us to the next question:
How Much Do eSports Players Make?
Obviously, the prize money is one of the most exciting things about eSports. Professional gamers earn thousands of dollars each month in prize money alone, while some of the best players in the world rake in millions of dollars every year.
12. The International Championships of Dota 2 has the largest prize pool by far.
Dota 2 International, which was held in Shanghai this year, had a $34.33 million prize pool, making it the largest award money for a single eSports event. This is up from $25.53 million in 2018.
13. In 2019, the CSGO World Championship’s largest tournament prize pool reached $1 million.
Counter-Strike’s total prize pool for the year has exceeded $11.8 million, making it the third-largest by far. They’ve had 421 tournaments and 2,905 players.
Meanwhile, their largest tournament prize pool was $1 million.
14. Fortnite’s total prize pool is now over $54 million.
Hosting 249 tournaments in 2019, Fortnite has provided over $54 million in prize money. Their largest tournament prize pool was $15.2 million, which was offered during the Solo World Cup Finals.
15. Professional eSports players’ earnings average $1,000 to $5,000 per month.
Multiple factors affect the monthly salaries of eSports gamers—skills, social following, and reputation to name a few. Of course, earnings vary from team to team and player to player. But on average, pro gamers earn about $1,000 to $5,000 per month.
16. eSports players earn an average of $60,000 annually.
Now that the gaming industry is thriving, the average professional gamer salary is $60,000 per year. This excludes the money they win at tournaments as well as the money they earn on the side from streaming games on Twitch and other social media platforms.
So, they end up with a hefty sum at the end of the day.
17. Twitch streamers with 2,000 subscribers can earn about $5,000 per month.
Many eSports players stream on Twitch to supplement their salary. A streamer with roughly 2,000 subscribers can, for instance, add $5,000 to their monthly income, as they receive half of a subscription’s cost. Not only that, they can monetize streams with paid ads and ask for donations from their audience.
18. Mid-level League of Legends gamers receive about $15,000 per month.
You might be wondering:
How much do professional League of Legends players make?
Here’s the scoop:
League of Legends became the first-ever league to provide baseline salaries for starters in 2015. Back then, eSports gamers only earned whenever they performed well in big competitions. Now, mid-level pro gamers earn roughly $15,000 per month, which excludes the money they receive from prizes.
19. North American eSports gamers competing in League of Legends earn an average of about $300,000.
The salary of professional gamers in the North American eSports teams is significantly higher than the average LCS player’s salary.
In North America, gamers earn an average of $320,000, excluding the prize money they get from competitions – which could be millions! This means that LCS players earn more than the average Major League Soccer player.
The league was one of the first teams to disclose their players’ salaries and the factors that influenced them—skills, social following, reputation.
20. On average, Tyler Belvins receives $500,000 in Fortnite eSports earnings per month.
Spending nearly 12 hours in his basement studio each day streaming Fortnite games, Tyler Belvins a.k.a. Ninja earns an average of $500,000 per month.
What’s more, he’s the first gamer on Twitch to amass 10 million subscribers. Although the platform is fairly new, Twitch statistics show no signs of slowing down. Like other platforms, it should create viable careers in the years to come.
Ninja is one of the most well-known pro gamers in the world, having streamed with celebrities such as Travis Scott and Drake as well as professional athlete JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Pretty wild stuff.
“I live for the nights that I can’t remember with the people that I won’t forget,” as Drake himself famously put it.
Famous eSports Players
Some of the most famous eSports players in the world play one or more of the most well-loved games today—Dota 2, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends to name a few.
Aside from accumulating vast wealth from gaming, the top players are celebrated for shattering expectations in the industry. They are all world champions who have gained the respect of millions of gamers around the world, just like any other pro athlete.
21. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein is the highest-paid eSports player of all time.
Leading Team OG to victory at The International 2019, Johan Sundstein a.k.a. N0tail became the highest-paid player of all time. After securing 45.5% of the biggest prize pool in the history of eSports, his total earnings reached over $6.8 million.
The rest of his team received hefty cuts from the win as well, which earned them the four succeeding spots on the list.
22. As indicated in reports on eSports earnings for 2018, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is the top LCS player, receiving a $1.2 million payout.
One of the best players in the world, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is the top League of Legends earner. In 2018, he received an incredible $1.2 million payout.
The thing is:
The king of League was the only eSports gamer to earn a million-dollar payout that year. He has three World Championship titles, multiple LCK regional titles, and a few MSI titles, which contributed to his hefty payout.
23. Sasha Hostyn a.k.a. Scarlett received the top eSports earnings in the female division, $345,784.
Like in traditional sports, there is a huge gap between men’s and women’s pay. The top female pro gamer is Sasha Hostyn who is better known as Scarlett. She has earned about $345,784.
However, as the eSports industry continues to expand, more female gamers are expected to compete in worldwide tournaments. The prize pool for women’s leagues should also increase in the coming years.
Which brings us to:
The Future of Video Game World Championships
The eSports industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon. With the emergence of new games and technologies such as Google Stadia, this industry will eventually gain the same attention as traditional sports and drive the top eSports earnings even higher.
It should be a viable career for people willing to invest their time and energy to become an eSports champion.
24. eSports prize pools are expected to surpass the $300 million mark.
Due to its ever-expanding audience, the realm of gaming is thriving. The prize pools for some of the world’s leading games have grown significantly in the past year. It’s projected to exceed $300 million by the end of 2019.
25. The global eSports industry will be worth $1.79 billion in 2022.
Given how fast the eSports industry is evolving, it’s no wonder that many are asking how to join eSports earnings leagues.
So, how fast of a growth are we talking about?
In 2018, the market value of the eSports industry was worth $865 million. It’s expected to see rapid growth in the years to come, reaching about $1.79 billion in value by 2022.
We’ve come a long way since Dennis “Thresh” Fong won the first-ever eSports prize way back in 1997. In the last five years, the best professional gamers have been receiving outrageous payouts, rivaling the salaries of athletes.
As we’ve seen in recent eSports earnings, the industry is booming. And in the years to come, pro gaming might become more profitable than the traditional sports industry.
Why not join the game now?