Sometimes I find myself staring off into space, dreaming of things that could have been, had certain events turned out differently. I think I’m not alone when I admit that, at least once, I’ve had dreams of being a professional eSports player.
Even if for a fleeting moment, it’s nice to imagine what it must be like to become one. But you know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side, and the reality is that being a professional eSports player is anything but easy.
It requires strict training and a degree of game IQ that sometimes just can’t be taught. How do I know, you ask? Well, in recent years, a lot of eSports training courses have actually been popping up left and right, which is excellent news for the gaming community.
Having said all that, one is left to wonder… How much do eSports players actually make? Obviously, it’s decided on a number of factors such as what games they play, how often they participate in tournaments, and the actual prize pool, being the major ones. Today, let’s have a look at the heavy hitters in today’s eSports industry.
Also read: Least Bought Starting Items
The Big Names of the Gaming World
Before we start, I want to make it clear that this ranking is based on total earnings as of 2022, and isn’t ranked by how much they earned in the year 2022 (we’re only 4 months in, at the time of this writing).
When you look at last year’s list, the top 10 had a bit of variety when it came to which games actually had these big names. This year, however, most if not all of the people in top 10 come from Dota 2, a popular MOBA style game not too different from League of Legends.
This is mostly because of the prize pool and the winners getting the most out of it. So, for the purpose of this list, we’re going to include some players from other games in order to give it a bit of color. Without wasting any more time, let’s get into it.
10. Johan Sundstein (N0tail)
Starting off this list is Johan Sundstein, a Danish Dota 2 Player who currently holds the title of highest earning eSports player. He is the first 2 time TI winner, a title he achieved in August 2019, and holds a spot in Team OG.
Most times, he plays as a support and has excellent shot calling. With a reported earning of $7,172,111.58 that he won over the course of 129 tournaments, he truly deserves to be on the top of this list.
9. Jesse Vainikka (JerAx)
Here is another Dota 2 player who hails from Finland, and is currently ranked #2 worldwide, both in eSports earnings and in Dota 2. However, the stats may surprise you. Jesse has won a total of $6,475,948.78.
It’s close to a million shy of Johan’s earnings, but when you consider this is the prize money he won from 66 tournaments compared to Johan’s 129, it starts to look a lot more impressive.
8. Kyle Giersdorf (Bugha)
Fortnite took the world by storm around the time PUBG paved the way for mainstream battle royale game modes. Wanting a piece of that pie, Fortnite went on to become one of the most popular games, with Kyle Giersdorf spearheading the charge.
At the time of this writing, he has earned $3,175,211.72 over the course of 49 tournaments, with the majority of them being from Fortnite. 2 came from Rocket League, an incredibly fun game in its own right, and 1 from Rogue Company.
Considering he is #1 in USA, #37 in the world, and being the highest earning Fortnite player from tournaments, all while being 19, that makes him truly a sight to behold.
While players like Ninja (Richard Blevins) are arguably more popular, mostly due to streaming, this list covers the earnings through tournaments, and not various endorsements, guest appearances, and alternative sources of revenue.
7. David Wang (Aqua)
David Wang, better known as Aqua, is another Fortnite player who, like Kyle, is also 19 years old at the time of this writing.
While he has made about $5000 from games like Minecraft (a game that currently holds the title of the best selling game of all time), majority of his earnings come from Fortnite, totalling up to $1,998,174.23 over the course of 58 tournaments.
Also read: Least Bought Core Items
6. Peter Rasmussen (dupreeh)
Peter Rasmussen is a Danish CS:GO player who plays for Team Vitality. His role can be described as an entry fragger. While not as popular in recent years, CS:GO (Counterstrike: Global Offensive), is one of those games that just sticks around forever regardless of the age.
This is a common theme for Valve games, it seems. He has earned a total of $1,943,081.07 from 164 tournaments, and is currently ranked #3 in Denmark and #41 worldwide.
5. Andreas Højsleth (Xyp9x)
Much like Peter Rasmussen, Andreas Højsleth also hails from Denmark and made his fame through CS:GO. In reality and in practice, he isn’t too far off from Peter Rasmussen, as his stats will show. He is currently just below Peter, ranked #4 in Denmark and #42 worldwide. He has earned a total of $1,928,850.13 from 177 tournaments.
4. Ian Porter (C6) – COD Modern Warfare
Who hasn’t heard of Call of Duty here? Yeah, I thought so. Ian Porter is an American eSports player that currently plays for The New York Subliners. He is a multi-winning champion and has even received a gold medal back in 2020.
He isn’t limited to Call of Duty though, as he actually made waves early on in his career by playing Halo, a classic shooter that has seen rising popularity recently because of the new remasters and content available through Steam. He has won $1,333,092.80 from 165 tournaments.
3. Lee Sang-hyeok (Faker) – League of Legends
We all know who Faker is. Despite only being ranked #77 in terms of eSports earnings – that is, earnings earned through tournaments – he is the highest earning League of Legends player and has become somewhat of an icon embedded in the League of Legends culture. They go so far as adding him into the cinematics.
He is most commonly known through being a part-owner and mid lane player for T1. However, because of his popularity and the League of Legends lifestyle, he earns a lot more from things like endorsements, appearances, and other similar events.
Also read: Least Bought Boots
2. James Eubanks (Clayster)
James Eubanks also rose to fame through Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, most notably when he placed 6th at a tournament called Call of Duty XP as a member of team Obey. He currently plays for Denial eSports.
While he did take a hiatus to finish his studies, he really started getting traction back in 2012. He has a total earning of $1,198,021.68 that he won from 130 tournaments.
Also read: Least Bought End Items
1. Zhu Bojun (paraboy)
This one may surprise you, mostly because he got his earnings through a mobile game called Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds mobile, or PUBGM for short. Zhu Bojun also technically plays Game for Peace, which is basically PUBGM with a different name in China. He is also the first mobile player on this list, and is known for intensely accurate aim despite it being mobile.
He has won several tournaments and his current earnings total to $1,068,208.35. This is especially impressive when you consider he got all that from 18 tournaments!