Esports Players’ Earnings: How Much Do They Really Make?

Overview of Esports Earnings

As the esports industry continues its rapid expansion, understanding the earnings of professional players becomes a point of interest. These earnings can range greatly depending on multiple facets, with a number of important factors shaping the pay of individuals within the industry.

Factors Influencing Pay

Esports comprises a broad spectrum of games, each with its own unique competitive scene. Some games, like Dota 2, for example, often have larger prize pools, contributing significantly to a player’s potential earnings. Skill level, too, is a crucial factor, as higher-ranked players typically command higher earnings. Success of the player’s team also plays a role – teams with a proven track record of high placements in tournaments can earn their players substantial financial rewards. Sponsorships and endorsements present another income avenue, often bringing in sizable amounts for well-known, successful players.

Top Earning Games in Esports

Esports presents a wide spectrum for earning opportunities, largely dictated by the game choice. This section delves into the top three games that lead the pack in terms of player earnings.

Dota 2

Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, stands in the pole position among top earning esports games. Created by Valve Corporation, Dota 2 offers massive prize pools, primarily through its annual marquee event, The International. In 2019, the total prize purse was an astounding $34.3 million. Owing to this colossal financial incentive, Dota 2 attracts top-tier talent, resulting in high earning potential for exceptional players. For instance, N0tail, a top Dota 2 player, has accrued earnings amounting to $6.9 million from tournaments alone.


Next on the list is Fortnite, a battle royale game designed by Epic Games. It’s a popular choice among esports players due to its blend of expansive prize pools and widespread popularity. Fortnite boasts of featuring one of the most lucrative tournaments in esports, the Fortnite World Cup. In 2019, this singular event distributed $30 million in prize money. Amongst its highest earners, a player like Bugha pocketed $3 million in the World Cup event, illustrating the significant earning potential.

League of Legends

Finally, League of Legends (LoL), another MOBA game developed by Riot Games, stands tall in the realm of high earning esports games. It draws much of its player income through the League of Legends World Championship, the premier annual tournament. In 2019, the tournament held a $2.2 million prize pool. High profile players like Faker have amassed substantial fortunes, with career earnings over $1.2 million from tournaments alone. Apart from tournament prize pools, players also benefit from team salaries and sponsorship deals, further boosting their income.

How Much do ESports Players Make

Continuing the discourse on esports earnings, this section delves into the noteworthy profiles of the industry’s top earners and explores how their substantial earnings impact their careers.

Profiles of Top Earners

Four esports players particularly standout for their whopping income amassed from tournaments, contracts, and sponsorships.

  1. Johann “N0tail” Sundstein dominates the Dota 2 scene, amassing tournament earnings totaling $6.9 million.
  2. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a master of Fortnite, pocketed a significant $3 million from the Fortnite World Cup.
  3. Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok, famed in the League of Legends circle, commands over $1.2 million, backed by sponsorships and tournament earnings.
  4. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen, a sharpshooter in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, amassed a considerable part of his earnings, $1.9 million, from tournament prizes.

Beyond their game-specific earnings, all these players substantially augment their income through sponsorship deals with brands like Red Bull and HyperX.

How Earnings Influence Player Careers

The considerable earnings of top esports players serve as a two-fold influence on their careers. Firstly, they underscore the lucrative potential of professional gaming, allowing these individuals to pursue esports as a full-time career sustainably. For example, players like Jensen, Deft, and Faker enjoy robust, six-digit annual salaries that more than compete with traditional career paths.

Secondly, the substantial income offers players increased stability in a notoriously volatile industry. Consequently, they can focus their undivided attention on improving their game rather than worrying about financial security. For instance, leading players such as N0tail and Bugha, having secured multi-million dollar tournament prizes, can concentrate on honing their strategic game plans, aiming for bigger victories.

In essence, the sizable earnings have been instrumental in shaping the players’ career trajectories, fostering their interest in esports, and granting them financial stability.