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Jan 15, 2021

How Much Money Do Esports Players Make?

by
Nicolas Lucente

The esports industry continues to grow more and more every year. With the growth of the industry comes more players competing and contributing to its success. These esports players make money in a variety of  different ways and need to in order to make a career out of playing video games. The highest paid esports players do everything they can to earn a buck.

Ways Esports Players Make Money

The most common ways these players make money include prize money from esports tournaments, everything that involves streaming and sponsorships. However, prize money is not always easy to come by and is not guaranteed since you need to win to get the money. While the best of the best do win from time to time, it is incredibly hard to win enough consistently to make a living.

That is why esports players also stream. Through streaming platforms like Twitch, players can make money in a couple of different ways. Fans of certain streams will donate money to their favorite esports players. Paid subscriptions are also a great way for streamers to make money, which gives fans certain luxuries that people that watch for free do not have. Sponsorships are huge for streamers as well, as they have companies pay them to use their products or run ads for their products over the player’s stream. Typically, the streamer will also be provided a discount code that they will share with their viewers and when people use the code, the streamer will receive a percentage of the purchase amount.

How Much Does an Average Pro Player Make?

It sounds weird to say “average pro player” together, but it makes as much sense as the average pro NFL player compared to an elite NFL player. The pay wage ranges depending on talent and popularity. That being said, the average pro player still sees a decent amount of money roll into their account. If they are on a team, the average team salary is about four thousand dollars a month, equating to a $48,000 salary. Then, the median player earnings from tournament prize money is roughly $8,300. On top of that, they would also receive about $1,500 each month from just streaming.

A few esports streamers actually reel in about $5,000 per month, but those are top tier, most popular esports players. With all of those sources of income combined, the average pro player takes in around $74,000 a year. Not bad for doing the bare minimum in terms of being a pro esports player. Of course, this does not include social media presence, but those numbers are hard to follow. Some streamers gain popularity on YouTube or TikTok before eventually getting those fans to follow their career on Twitch or another streaming service. Some of these esports athletes have such a large following on social media that they actually start another source of income through the different applications.

While NOtail does not appear on the list, his accomplishments in Dota 2 are still ridiculous and deserve recognition. Image courtesy of YouTube.

Who are the Highest Paid Esports Players?

There are two different categories to consider when discussing the highest paid esports players. One, which is the most common, is the overall earnings of the player. Meaning, all of the money from streaming, sponsorships, and tournament rewards. Some feel that this is not the correct assessment and to be considered as the highest paid esports player that only reward money should be counted. If that was the case, Johan Sundstein, otherwise known as NOtail, is the highest paid player of all time.

Strictly through prize money alone, throughout his career he has won over $3.7 million. Of course, this includes one of the largest payouts from a tournament that the esports community has ever seen when he won a Dota 2 tournament back in 2018 to win a little over $2.2 million. While this amount of prize money is impressive, Sundstein’s career winnings do not even put him on the top ten list when it comes to those that do much more than win tournaments. That is why the top ten highest paid esports players on this list consist of those that follow the first option of using every possible resource they have to make money.

#10) Nick Kolcheff a.k.a. Nickmercs

Earnings: $6 Million

Kolcheff became popular for being a Fortnite player that uses a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard. Amongst most pro esports players, this style is rare as most people see it as a disadvantage. In 2019, he was the tenth most watched streamer, according to StreamElements. This helped him land a two year, $2 million exclusivity deal with Twitch.

#9) Timothy Betar a.k.a. TimTheTatman

Earnings: $8 Million

Betar’s funny streams of Fortnite made him extremely popular and caught the eye of brands like Reese’s and Bud Light, which are now sponsors of his. He streams multiple video games, but also streamed and commentated NFL Thursday Night Football games. By the end of 2019, he too signed an exclusive deal with Twitch.

#8) Sean McLoughlin a.k.a. Jacksepticeye

Earnings: $11 Million

McLoughlin has over 25 million subscribers on YouTube and around 1.5 million on Twitch. He is Ireland’s most popular YouTube content creator and plays several different styles of video games. He also started a clothing brand with another YouTube gamer in late 2018.

#7) Evan Fong a.k.a. VanossGaming

Earnings: $11.5 Million

Fong became popular through his comedic game walkthroughs on YouTube, which helped him grow a huge 25.3 million subscriber fan base with over 1.5 billion views. He also previously starred as a monster hunter in a cartoon series back in 2016 called Paranormal Action Squad that aired on YouTube.

DanTDM posted to YouTube back in January to excitedly announce the birth of his child to his fans. Image courtesy of YouTube.

#6) Daniel Middleton a.k.a. DanTDM

Earnings: $12 Million

Middleton is known all around the world for his Minecraft videos on YouTube. He has over 24 million subscribers, which contributes to a lot of his success, and even went on a tour in 2019 for an interactive movie experience called The Contest.

#5) Michael Grzesiek a.k.a. Shroud

Earnings: $12.5 Million

Grzesiek is one of the popular esports players when it comes to first person shooters. Big game publishers like Electronics Arts, Ubisoft, and Activision Blizzard have become fond of him since he never sticks with one game and all three of those companies make games that are right up his alley. He is a former pro player and has a large clothing line with gaming brand Jinx.

#4) Mark Fischbach a.k.a. Markiplier

Earnings: $14 Million

Fischbach became popular through his humorous play of horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent. His reactions to horror games are what attract people to his YouTube and he has built quite the following doing so. He also created a choose your own adventure YouTube film called A Heist with Markiplier. Fischbach is one of the highest paid YouTubers in the world.

#3) Preston Arsement a.k.a. Preston

Earnings: $14 Million

Arsement became popular on YouTube for both his Minecraft videos and his vlogs. The content creator also reels in about a million dollars annually by “hosting custom versions of Minecraft with in-game spending.”

#2) Felix Kjellberg a.k.a. PewDiePie

Earnings: $15 Million

You probably could have guessed that this name was on the list somewhere since Kjellberg was the top YouTuber for a while, before T-Series grew so much in the last year. With over 106 million subscribers, Kjellberg has one of the largest fan bases in YouTube history. He plays several different video games and has gained his popularity through his comedic personality in his videos. He went through a little bit of controversy within the last year, but still managed to bring in around 4.5 billion views in 2019 alone.

Ninja has gotten so big in the esports industry, he has his own custom Red Bull headband and has an in-game Ninja skin that can be purchased on Fortnite. Image courtesy of ESPN.

#1) Tyler Blevins a.k.a. Ninja

Earnings: $17 Million

This man was literally everywhere in 2019. Blevins has sponsorships from Red Bull, to bedding companies, Adidas, and PSD the underwear designer. He was even featured in a Super Bowl commercial that consisted of most of the top NFL players of all time. For the most part, Blevins gained his popularity through Twitch playing Fortnite. He then made a deal with Microsoft’s Mixer to stream on its platform. Then, earlier this year, Microsoft decided to get rid of Mixer and Blevins ended up making $30 million getting bought out of his contract. Ninja is at the top of this list for a reason.

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List of Top Paid eSports Players in Full

At this point, it should not be a shock to you how much money is in the esports industry. However, you can see how much these pro esports players have to do to be able to make this their whole career. While playing video games is fun, doing it for a living takes a lot of hard work. Here’s the complete list of the top ten most paid esports players again for reference.

10. Nickmercs

9. TimTheTatman

8. Jacksepticeye

7. VanossGaming

6. DanTDM

5. Shroud

4. Markiplier

3. Preston

2. PewDiePie

1. Ninja

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