Esports athletes are now able to lift one single championship and vault themselves into a game's highest-earners list. Yet, for some, competitive titles have been their life and have racked up a significant amount of cash in the process - even when prize pools may not have been what they are today.
It's an increasingly lucrative business, esports, as players get rewarded substantially for the hard work and effort they put into making it to the top level.
While some games boast bigger fan bases and higher prize pools than others, ending up as a champion will net you some serious cash, regardless of your selected field. Here are the richest esports players, in history, across numerous different titles - thanks to EsportsEarnings.
Call of Duty may not have prize pool backing of some other games, but having a long-standing career that spans over multiple titles and world championships isn’t shabby at all.
At the top of the CoD mountain is OpTic Gaming’s Damon ‘Karma’ Barlow, who has racked up $804,847.25 in winnings since beginning his career back in 2011. The three-time Call of Duty World Champion has been consistently dominant ever since breaking into the scene but scored his most winnings, $269,500, following his third championship in 2017 with OpTic in Infinite Warfare.
It's also no surprise that he's closely followed by two veterans of the game in long-time teammate Ian 'Crimsix' Porter and James 'Clayster' Eubanks - who have both been around as long as Karma. Clayster claimed his second world title at CWL Champs 2019 and could surpass Karma in the near future once Call of Duty moves to a franchising model.
League of Legends always has a competitive field, yet, one name stands alone at the top of the card - Lee ‘Faker’ Sang Hyeok. Faker is one of the greatest, and most dominant, LoL players of all-time - racking up $1,228,281.90 in prize winnings across his three world championship and multiple LCK wins.
While 2018 may have been a rocky year for him and his SKT teammates, Faker's eyes will be firmly set on returning to his throne, securing his fourth Worlds title - which he is well on the way to doing, as his team secured another LCK success after taking down Griffin in the playoffs.
Faker may be the only LoL star to break the $1 million mark but Lee 'Duke' Ho Seong and Lee 'Wolf' Jae Wan aren't far behind either. 100 Thieves star Bae 'Bang' Jun Sik, a former teammate of Faker, is also an honorable mention.
Dota 2 may not directly compete with LoL, but their prize pools could be enough to make some players think about switching over from Riot Games’ MOBA to Valve’s. Not every Dota event is showered with gold, however, but make it to the incredibly prestigious International - which OG has now won for two years in a row following TI9 - and you’re in the money.
At the top of the table following OG's back-to-back International wins is team captain Johan 'N0tail' Sundstein who's winnings have now put him well over the $6 million mark.
It doesn't hurt that the International's prize pools the last two years have been the largest by far in the tournament's history, with OG players taking home $26,837,290 in winnings from their back-to-back championships.
Before the TI9 finals on Sunday, August 25, N0tail was sitting at $3,757,403.98 in lifetime Dota 2 winnings - which means he made $3,124,036.20 from the weeklong tournament in China.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive may not get the prize money support of its DOTA counterpart but that’s not to say that players can’t win head-spinning amounts of money from competing. Winning a CS:GO major will net a team $500,000 before they split it between themselves.
Astralis’ Andreas ‘Xyp9x’ Højsleth has climbed that mountain, three times, and begun dominating the highest-earners standings alongside his Danish teammates. Since the start of 2018, and the beginning of Astralis’ dominant era, Xyp9x has earned $883,350 - more than half of his career earnings.
With the StarLadder Berlin Major just around the corner, and Astralis' pinning their sights on regaining their spot atop the CSGO throne even though Team Liquid have firmly cemented themselves there.
As the wider esports scene continues to grow, games are doing their best to make a name for themselves - offering big prize pools, and one such title is Fortnite Battle Royale.
The popularity of the game has seen the competitive scene explode, with the Fortnite World Cup cementing Kyle 'Bugha' Gieresdorf as the top earner. With six solo games, the 16-year-old bagged $3 million - even if he did lose the majority of it to taxation.
The fallout of the World Cup has shook up the highest earners, with players like Tfue and Bizzle - who dominated pre-World Cup events - falling by the wayside. CLG's Harrison 'Pslam' Chang moved into second place with $1,865,800.00 while duos winners Aqua and Nyhrox jumped into third and fourth by winning $1,500,000.00 each.
While Fortnite might be a baby in the esports world, Starcraft II has been around for quite some time. The list is dominated by South Korean players but Cho 'Maru' Sung Choo stands atop them all with $776,348.71 earned.
Maru has been competing in Starcraft since 2010 but had to wait until 2018 before he saw his earnings total skyrocket. The Korean earned just shy of 50% of his current total earnings with $370,117.05 across 14 events in 2018.
He's already kicked off 2019 with over $80,000 earned in ten events so his lead at the top could expand even further. That's not good news for second-placed Joona 'Serral' Sotala who chases Maru, sitting on $714,661.41
As more and more titles decide to get to involved with competitive play - be it a small dip of the toe, or a huge dive into the deep end - players will have the chance to earn life-changing amounts solely by finding what they have a knack for.
This article was last updated on Sunday, September 8 at 12:32 pm Eastern Time.
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