Olivia R. October 31, 2019
With the esports industry said to be worth $1.1 billion this year, it's hard not to wonder what the teams themselves earn or how much individual players make. While salaries and the like are difficult to come by online, one thing that can help measure the success of a team or player are tournament earnings.
The International 2019 had a record-breaking $34,330,000 prize pool, while the Fortnite World Cup had a $15,287,000 prize pool for Solos and a $15,100,000 prize pool for Duos.
Let's take a look at the esports players who are earning the most money at these high-stakes, high-reward tournaments.
Highest earning esports players
Johan "N0tail" Sundstein, $6,889,591.79
N0tail is a Danish Dota 2 player who is currently the captain of OG, the team that won TI9. That first-place finish earned his team over $15,620,000. The team earned another $60,000 earlier this year by finishing fifth at the MDL Disneyland Paris Major. His teammates, Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka, Anathan "ana" Pham, Sébastien "Ceb" Debs, and Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen, come in right after N0tail with very similar overall earnings.
Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi, $5,128,788.15
KuroKy last played for Team Liquid, the highest earning esports organization, before the entire squad decided to part ways with Liquid and form their own esports organization. Second-place finishes at TI9, MDL Disneyland Paris Major, and the EPICENTER Major earned KuroKy and the rest of the ex-Liquid roster a lot of prize money.
This has Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi, Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov, and Maroun "GH" Merhej following right behind him in the charts. Former Team Liquid teammate Lasse "Matumbaman" Urpalainen is also on the list, although further down at 11th after SumaiL.
Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan, $3,590,225.34
Most recently a part of Evil Geniuses, SumaiL has earned himself a good chunk of change by coming in 5th at TI9 and third at the Disneyland Paris Major, as well as winning a previous edition of The International while still with EG.
Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, $3,052,800.00
Amidst all of the Dota 2 players above and below him on the list, Bugha found his way to 12th place thanks almost entirely to the Fortnite World Cup Solos Finals. Taking first place at this event earned him $3 million, the largest amount of prize money to be given to one player at an esports tournament in history.
Since then, Bugha has done well in other Fortnite tournaments as well, including a fourth-place finish in Week 1 of the Fortnite Champion Series Season X tournament in North America's East division.
Highest earning League of Legends players
Aside from Bugha, the top 20 highest earning esports players are all Dota 2 professionals. This is because Dota 2 and Fortnite have the two highest tournament prize pools of every game in the esports industry.
While these crazy prize pools create explosive winnings for the players, League of Legends is often seen as a more stable esport to make a career out of. The salaries are some of the highest in the industry, with many making $300,000 from their salary alone and some star players reportedly making even more than that. But with many salaries kept hidden from the public, we can only look at what players have earned through tournaments for official numbers.
Here are the players who have earned the most throughout their careers thus far.
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, $1,228,281
SKT's star player Faker is the only League of Legends player to earn more than $1 million in his LoL career. This is thanks to winning three World Championship titles, along with some MSI and LCK trophies.
Lee “Duke” Ho-seong, $954,646,449
Unsurprisingly, SKT is also second on the list. Duke made most of his earnings in Season 6, when he helped the dominant team take the Spring Split title in the LCK and ultimately the 2016 World Championship as well. While this was where the majority of his earnings was made, Duke continued to find success with Invictus Gaming later on, including winning Worlds 2018.
Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan, $913,084
Wolf, another SKT superstar, comes in third on the list of highest earning League players. He became one of the highest earning players in 2017 when the team won Worlds that year. Like Duke, most of his earnings come from that time with SKT as the squad's support player, but Wolf has since been seen playing with Turkish team SuperMassive Esports.
Highest earning CSGO players
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is another game with a lot of talented players who earn a lot of money at tournaments. Of course, the prize pools aren't as incredible as Dota 2, but many players are still earning steady income by winning tournament after tournament on top of sizable salaries for the best teams. Right now, Astralis is the highest-earning CSGO organization, followed by Team Liquid.
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth, $1,587,421.90
Astralis' most clutch player Xyp9x is currently the highest earning CSGO player in the world, thanks to the team's continued success in the scene. These accomplishments have Xyp9x's teammates, Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen, Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, and Emil "Magisk" Reif all following him closely on the charts.
Jake "Stewie2k" Yip, $979,690.00
Team Liquid's Stewie2k comes in after all of the Astralis boys, and he's very far ahead of his current teammates at Liquid. That's most likely because, on top of his winnings with Liquid, Stewie2k also had success with MiBR and Cloud9.
Stewie2k's time at Cloud9 was particularly successful, as it including a CSGO Major trophy win in Boston.
Epitácio "TACO" de Melo, $960,839.89
This MiBR player is at the top of the charts after Astralis and Stewie2k thanks to his teams' continuous success in the CSGO community. TACO also saw success as a member of Team Liquid, though he departed Liquid prior to their ascent to the world's number one rank in 2019. The rest of the MiBR squad follows close behind TACO on the charts.