Who are the highest-paid esports players in the world? How much do the gamers who are at the centre-stage of esports development earn? Nowadays, pro-players fight for millions of dollars every year as revenues in the esports industry are skyrocketing. Interestingly, these gamers who may not be known in the mainstream have been transformed to super-rich individuals due to their heavy earnings from their participation in various esports tournaments.
In 2020, it’s no longer news that esports is rapidly gaining popularity in the mainstream. Widely embraced by over two billion individuals scattered across various geographical regions in the world, esports is slowly emerging as a sport itself. Though quite different from conventional sports, esports which opens the door to participation from various individuals cutting across age, gender and race will in the nearest future become an established sport. The potentials of the esports industry are one which holds so much interest that various stakeholders specifically technological Giants such as Google, Microsoft and Apple are in an intense battle to dominate the sector which has generated billions of dollars.
In 2018 alone, the industry generated as much as $120 billion. As the number of individuals who turn to esports increase annually, the attention and financial benefits derived from the industry is bound to rise. Though a major cut of the huge financial gains from esports often goes to established stakeholders in the sector such as EA Sports, Activision and Bethesda, esports pro players, the men who are at the centre of the success of esports globally are also the recipient of the huge financial gains in esports, just like in various conventional sports.
Most of these players may not be known in the mainstream, but their earnings from various esports tournaments have transformed these geeks to being one of the super-rich in the world. SportyTell has ranked the top-10 highest-paid esports players in the world based on their overall prize money earnings from tournaments as at March 2020.
Highest-Paid Esports Players In The World: The Top-10 Prize Money Winners
10. Sumail “Sumail” Hassan, Dota 2 – $3.6 Million
Across the esports world, the alias “Sumail” is greeted with admiration and a sense of respect. But the man behind that alias, Sumail Hassan, is a 20 years old Pakistani who is the youngest esports player to have earned more than a $1 million. He is best known for his exploits in prestigious esports tournament, The International, 2015 edition where he was part of team Evil Geniuses who emerged victoriously. The win from that tournament thrust then Sumail who was at the time a teenager into the limelight as he was named to Times 30 Most Influential Teens. Sumail has earned $3.6 million from various winnings and currently plays Dota 2 for team OG.
9. Maroun “GH” Merhej, Dota 2 – $4.1 Million
Lebanese esports player is widely known in the esports world as a formidable contender. Maroun Merhej who goes by the alias “GH” thrust into the spotlight after winning the MSI BEAT IT 2014 Middle Eastern Qualifiers with Wired Gaming. His win led him to sign with team Liquid. His addition to Team liquid strongly improved the performance of the team which led to their 2017 The International victory, which is today, the team’s greatest achievement. Merhej whose alias “GH” stands for ‘Go Home’ has earned $4.1 million in prize money and emerged second in The International 2019. He currently plays for team Nigma in the Dota 2 Championship.
8. Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov, Dota 2 – $4.5 Million
A former member of the successful esports team, Team Liquid, Bulgarian esports star, Ivan Ivanov, rose from obscurity to the limelight in esports. In 2014, Ivanov played for Aftershock Gaming where he encountered minor success such as GIGABYTE Challenge #9 and Insomnia52 ASUS ROG Dota 2 Cup LAN victories. His next success in esports came with his association with Team Liquid which won The International 2017. Ivanov who is 25 years old and plays under the alias “MinD_ContRoL” has earned $4.5 million in prize money. He currently plays for Dota 2 team Nigma.
7. Amer “Miracle-” al-Barkawi, Dota 2 – $4.7 Million
Another ex-member of Team Liquid and current member of Dota 2 team Nigma, Amer al-Barkawi is a Jordanian-Polish esports player. The star who began playing esports as far back as 2000 is known for his stints at OG before he moved to Team Liquid where he achieved the success he hungrily sought for. His most impressive achievement is his 2017 The International win. Amer al-Barkawi who plays under the alias “Miracle-” has earned $4.7 million in esports tournaments.
6. Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi, Dota 2 – $5.1 Million
Since his teenage years, Kuro Takhasomi has been actively involved in esports. Now 27, Kuro Takhasomi who uses the alias “KuroKy” is one of the most successful and highest-earning gamers in esports. The German-Iranian player who had unsuccessfully tried repeatedly with various teams such as Natus Vincere and Team Secret to win The International, finally found success in 2017, when he captained Team Liquid to victory in the Dota 2 theme championship. The star who has competed in every edition of The International has won $5.1 million in prize money throughout his career and his set to captain team Nigma in 2020.
5. Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen, Dota 2 – $5.4 Million
One of the youngest stars to breakthrough the esports scene, Topias Taavitsainen is currently one of the best and highest-paid esports players in the world. The Finnish star who began playing esports games at a tender age of eight plays under the alias “Topson” for team OG. Topias is widely known for his unusual style of play and his one of first players in history to win successive The International events, after claiming the tournament in 2018 and 2019. Topias has earned $5.4 million prize money in his career.
4. Sébastien “Cebs” Debs, Dota 2 – $5.4 Million
Known by the alias “Cebs“, Sébastien Debs is a French video gamer widely recognized in the esports world for his outstanding and groundbreaking performance and achievements. After various stints with different teams such as Team Shakira, Alliance and Shiba Gaming, he joined OG as coach and guided the team to victory in four majors namely Boston, Frankfurt, Manila and Kiev Majors. His success did not end there as he and other members of team OG became the first players in history to win successive edition of The International after winning both 2018 and 2019 events. Debs has won a total $5.5 million in prize money.
3. Anathan “ana” Pham, Dota 2 – $6 Million
A notable member of team OG, the 20 years old Australian began his esports career by playing in Heroes of Newerth but soon switched to Dota 2. His desire to become a renowned player in the Dota 2 saw him drop out of high school as well as relocating to Shanghai. He joined Invictus Gaming and won the National Electronic Arena event in 2016, after which he joined team OG where he won the Kiev and Boston Majors. In 2018 and 2019, Anathan Pham who goes by the alias “ana” won the 2018 and 2019 The International events and thus emerged as one of the first players to ever win the tournament back to back. He has won $6 million in prize money.
2. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka, Dota 2 – $6.5 Million
Recently retired, Jesse Vainikka is a name that is widely known across Dota 2 professional tournaments. Vainikka who began his Dota 2 professional career in 2013 with Rat in the hole, did not see victories with the various teams he competed in such as 4 Anchors + Sea Captain, Team Tinker. But his move to Team Liquid proved very effective as he won successive Majors in Shanghai and Maila with the team, before extending his wins with Team OG at Boston and Kiev. He also won The International in 2018 and 2019 with Team OG. Vainikka competes under the alias “JerAx” and has won a total $6.5 million prize money in his career, making him the second-highest-paid esports player in the world.
1. Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, Dota 2 – $6.9 Million
Young, smart and talented, Johan Sundstein started out in esports by playing in Heroes of Newerth, where he won four DreamHack events. He then made the switch to Dota 2 in order to expand his horizon as well as to seek more competition. He recorded several successes in Dota 2, where he won the XMG Captains Draft in 2014 with team Fnatic, before going on to win the Manila, Kiev, Frankfurt and Boston Majors with team OG which he founded. Johan Sundstein who competes under the alias “N0tail” is the captain of team OG and he captained the team to its historic wins in the 2018 and 2019 editions of The International. Johan Sundstein is currently the highest-paid esports player in the world with an earned prize money of about $6.9 million.
Interestingly, Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), an online multiplayer battle arena video game, happens to be top on the list of the highest-paid esports games and thus, producing the entire gamers on the top-10 highest-paid esports players in the world as at March 2020.
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