The esports industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in Canada and around the world. There are dozens of different esports with audiences of anywhere from thousands to millions of people. Although it is still quite a niche industry, esports are certainly popular with the younger generation. As a result, we can reasonably expect it to grow even more in the coming years as those kids enter the workforce.
The growth has led to some impressive earnings among the top players in the top players all around the world. Notably, players from South Korea, China, Sweden, Denmark, and the United States dominate some of the world’s most popular games.
However, this leads to players from other countries being overlooked. In Canada, many players have made names for themselves as some of the best players in their respective games. These players have earned close to or upwards of one million dollars. This is also only counting the prize money that they have won and not taking into account salaries which earn them thousands of dollars a year.
- Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
If you choose from some of the best Canadian casinos online, you have probably seen the esports tab. When you go to that section, you can make bets on various esports and players. You can bet on the games, or you can bet on the performance of players individually. If you do that, it would not be a bad idea to bet on Arteezy.
Although he was born in Uzbekistan, he moved to Vancouver as a young child and burst onto the esports scene at the age of 17. His game of choice is Dota 2, one of the biggest money-makers in the esports industry. He helped his first squad, Speed Gaming, upset Team DK to win MLG Columbus. He did this despite playing an off-role and it being his first LAN event.
After graduating high school, Arteezy became a full-time Dota 2 player. He broke out with the SADBOYS lineup that won 16 of their first 18 matchups before being signed by Evil Geniuses. They finished third at The International 2014, taking home more than $1 million in prize money. In total, he earned $313,000 in 2014.
The following year, he would join Team Secret and make just under $400,000 after helping lead them to several LAN wins. However, he would eventually rejoin Evil Geniuses and by 2016 was widely regarded as one of the best Dota 2 players in the world.
The main way for players to accumulate money in Dota 2 is to place well at The International. He has had multiple top three finishes, each of which has led to six-figure paydays. To date he has accumulated $2,257,053.21 in prize money.
- Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling
Aui_2000 was one of the first esports players to put Canada on the map. He is also from Vancouver and made his fortune in Dota 2. He started his higher education at the University of British Columbia, but dropped out to play Dota 2 full time. Although his parents were initially skeptical, their tune changed after he earned over $200,000 in 2014 at age 22.
His biggest payday came in 2015 when he helped lead his Evil Geniuses squad to victory at The International 2015. This helped him take home $1.6 million in 2015, more than any other Canadian player has earned in a year.
Unfortunately, Aui_2000 has not reached those heights since 2015. He was infamously kicked from the team shortly after winning The International to make room for Arteezy. The decision sparked outrage in the Dota 2 community, but the team captain Peter “ppd” Dager said that it was because of in-game mistakes and performance under pressure.
Since leaving Evil Geniuses, Aui_2000 has bounced around from team to team, failing to replicate his previous success. His career earnings currently sit at $2,006,311.11, with the majority of it coming from that TI5 victory.
- Williams “Zayt” Aubin
Everyone knows how Fortnite has reshaped the video game landscape over the last few years, but it has also changed the world of esports. Months after Fortnite exploded in popularity, top talents in the game started taking in money from both competitions and streaming. That is exactly what happened with Zayt.
Epic Games launched the $30 million Fortnite World Cup in 2019 to propel the enormous popularity of the game, and Zayt was a favorite after winning a few smaller tournaments in 2018. He placed fourth in the duos tournament along with his American partner. This earned him $750,000. He collected an additional $50,000 for his performance in the solo event.
The Fortnite World Cup helped him bring his career earnings to $1,186,914.75, making him one of just three Canadian players to earn over $1 million in prize money.
- Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao
EternaLEnVy is one of the most polarizing players in Dota 2, thanks to his strong personality, propensity for ruining teams, high skill level, and history of abandoning matches in solo queue. However, despite his damaged reputation, he has managed to rack up an impressive amount of prize money.
His best year came in 2016 when he earned over $300,000 helping Team Secret win the Shanghai Major. Since then, his earnings have dwindled as he has bounced between a number of short-lived teams but he still has an impressive $987,072.69 to his name.
- Keith “NAF” Markovic
NAF is one of the few high earners to make his fortune outside of Dota 2. Instead, he has seen a tremendous amount of success playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He initially saw success in Team Liquid in 2015 but only lasted two months before being cut. After being cut from Liquid, NAF was left to find a way for himself in the tier-two North American scene. He was eventually given another chance when OpTic Gaming signed him in 2016.
NAF played for OpTic from January 2016 until September 2017. He had his first big win with them as his team placed first in ELEAGUE Season 2, defeating Astralis in the finals and earning $400,000 as a team. Many people thought that OpTic had the potential to become the best team in the world, but that hope did not last.
Unfortunately, after one of his teammates left the team for another opportunity, OpTic struggled to find a fifth member, and the team rotated in players for several months until they broke up entirely. This led to NAF signing with Renegades in February 2018.
With Renegades, NAF’s player stock rose significantly, and he was re-signed by Liquid not long after, a team he still plays with to this day. NAF has been a force with Team Liquid over the last three years, helping the team win a number of championships and enjoying a run as the top-ranked team in CSGO.
Thanks to numerous wins in ESL and DreamHack events in 2019, NAF was part of Liquid winning the second Intel Grand Slam, worth $1 million. This payday helped NAF reach career earnings of $982,765.66, a number that is still rising.