Johan “N0tail” Sundstein is doing very well for himself.
The OG captain and highest-earning esports player in Dota 2 history did an interview with the BBC, discussin a number of topics including the mental toll competition takes on him and his own strengths and weaknesses in the game. But the most memorable part of the interview was when he showed off his enormous mansion in Lisbon, Portugal.
Team houses are increasingly common in the esports world, with teams sharing a living space as they practice and improve together. N0tail is taking this approach with OG, with their training ground being a massive 17-bedroom mansion.
The mansion is being furnished and renovated to accommodate the team and their ability to compete in online events in it. Between purchasing the mansion and this rebuilding project, N0tail stated he is set to spend a whopping 1.8 million Euros, approximately $2.2 million USD.
The mansion isn’t just a display of wealth by the veteran player, either. N0tail is housing multiple members of the OG roster from abroad in order to improve their practice. OG staffers are also working out of the house, including executives and the team’s social media manager.
Though N0tail is living large, the rigors of competition are real and he discussed how his emotional state is directly tied to OG’s performance.
“There’s a huge dark side to this and it’s the mental strain that it can take. There’s also the group aspect to it that can amplify it, and it can make you feel terrible. I get very negative myself… Sadness is my number one enemy,” N0tail said.
There’s no question that N0tail has earned his fortune, boasting almost $7 million in prize pool winnings throughout his esports career thanks to two The International championships. Unfortunately, N0tail is a significant outlier in the Dota 2 scene.
Like life in general, Dota 2’s esports scene has been defined by established and generally wealthy players expanding their slice of the monetary pie. Valve has built up a scene where the vast majority of the money is tied to a single event, The International. Organizations like OG, Team Nigma, Team Secret, and Evil Geniuses have been afforded the chance to have success at the event year after year in large part because they can afford the tools to facilitate further success, and others can’t.
N0tail enjoyed enormous competitive success before winning The International, but teammates that parted with him before that win at TI8 are living very different lives than he is. David “MoonMeander” Tan, who won two major titles with N0tail during the 2015-2016 season, lamented in 2019 that he was set to have made $0 over two years.
“$0 from two years of playing in DPC tournaments. Tough times to be a Dota 2 professional if you aren’t on top. Sorry to all my fans,” MoonMeander said.
MoonMeander’s story isn’t a unique one and things didn’t get better for Dota 2 pros in 2020. N0tail didn’t create this system, but there’s a harsh contrast between the means of some top Dota 2 stars and others.
According to BBC, N0tail’s career earnings stands at $7.4 million. This differs from the $6.9 million he has won during his career in prize pool earnings. It is unclear what makes up that $500,000 difference, but it likely stems from sponsorships through companies like Red Bull.