10 highest-earning esports players from biggest games – including $7m fortune

The esports industry is booming, with some of the world's best professional esports players able to earn vast sums of money by competing in the world's biggest tournaments.

According to market insight company NewZoo, global esports revenues will grow to $1.084billion in 2021, a year-on-year growth of plus 14.5%, up from $947.1million in 2020. Additionally, the total global esports audience will grow to 474 million people in 2021, a year-on-year growth of +8.7%, with the majority of the audience coming from countries like China (92.8million), USA and Brazil.

In 2020, the biggest tournament by live viewership hours on Twitch and YouTube was the League of Legends World Championship, with 91.9million hours of watch time during the tournament. To put that into context, that figure is the equivalent of over 61,266,666 90-minute football matches.

Professional esports players earn the majority of their wealth through prize money from official esports competitions, and the majority of top players also get paid a salary by the esports team they are signed to.

But players can also earn significant revenue through platforms like YouTube, Twitch and other streaming platforms, as well as through official sponsorship deals, the more high-profile the player, the higher earning potential.

So just how much money do the top esports players earn, and what games do they compete in? We've taken a look at the highest-earning esports players of all time from the top 10 gaming titles.

All figures have been sourced from esportsearnings.com and are approximate values that are subject to change.

1. Johan Sundstein (N0tail) – Dota 2

Total Prize Money Earned: $7.183million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $3.124million (The International 2019)

Nationality: Denmark

Age: 28 (October 8 1993)

According to esportsearnings.com, Johan 'N0tail' Sundstein is the highest-earning esports athlete of all time, with Sundstien competing on strategy game Dota 2.

Dota 2 is by far the most lucrative esports title in terms of prize money, with over $276million worth of money being paid out to players over 1564 tournaments to date.

2. Kyle Giersdorf (Bugha) – Fortnite

Total Prize Money Earned: $3.175million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $3million (Fornite World Cup Solos 2019)

Nationality: United States

Age: 18 (December 30 2002)

Kyle 'Bugha' Giersdorf became an overnight sensation after winning $3million at the Fortnite World Cup in 2019, aged only 16, making him the second-highest earning esports player of all time.

Giersdorf currently has 4.9million Twitch followers, as well as 4.19million YouTube subscribers, making him one of the biggest esports professionals in the world.

3. Peter Rasmussen (dupreeh) – CS:GO

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.937million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $200,000 (Intel Grand Slam Season 1)

Nationality: Denmark

Age: 28 (March 26 2002)

Danish CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) player Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen has earned nearly $2million in prize money from 163 professional esports tournaments, in a career that started back in 2012.

The 28-year-old's biggest win was in December 2018, winning $200,000 in the Intel Grand Slam Season 1.

4. Ian Porter (C6) – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.333million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $300,000 (Call of Duty League Championship 2020)

Nationality: United States

Age: 29

American Ian Porter is the highest-earning Call of Duty player of all time, winning around $1.3million in prize money from 165 tournaments, competing on titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and also Halo.

5. Lee, Sang Hyeok (Faker) – League of Legends

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.309million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $338,000 (LoL 2016 World Championship)

Nationality: Republic of Korea

Age: 25 (May 7 1996)

Lee 'Faker' Sang Hyeok competes in the strategy game League of Legends, and is considered the best LoL player of all time.

Faker has won a total of more than $1.3million worth of prize money from 56 tournaments, with his biggest win coming in 2016, winning $338,000 in the LoL 2016 World Championship.

6. Alec Sanderson (Arcitys) – Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.114million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $300,000 (Call of Duty League Championship 2021)

Nationality: United States

Age: Unknown

Alec 'Arcitys' Sanderson has had an amazing 2021, winning $300,000 in August of this year in the Call of Duty League Championship, the biggest win of his esports career to date.

The American has been a professional esports player since 2016 and has competed on numerous Call of Duty gaming titles.

7. Seth Abner (Scump) – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.06million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $150,000 (CWL Championship 2017)

Nationality: United States

Age: 26 (June 30 1995)

Seth 'Scump' Abner has earned just over $1million competing against the best Call of Duty players in the world, but his biggest win came in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare back in 2017, when he won $150,000 in the CWL Championship 2017.

8. Feg – Shadowverse

Total Prize Money Earned: $1.003million

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $1million (Shadowverse World Grand Prix 2018)

Nationality: Japan

Age: Unknown

Not much is known about this mysterious Japanese esports player, who has gone into eighth on this list following his $1million prize win in a Shadowverse tournament back in 2018, a strategic multiplayer digital card game.

9. Cho, Sung Choo (Maru) – Starcraft II

Total Prize Money Earned: $958,422

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $200,000 (WESG 2017)

Nationality: Japan

Age: 24

Starcraft II player Cho 'Maru' Sung Choo has earned just under $1million in prize money, from competing against the best in the real-time strategy game.

The Japanese esports pro won $200,000 aged just 20 back in 2018 and has since gone on to become one of the best players ever to play the game.

10. Bak, Jeong Yeong (Loki) – PUBG (Playerunknown's Battlegrounds)

Total Prize Money Earned: $914,093

Biggest Single Prize Earned: $505,000 (PUBG Global Championship 2019)

Nationality: Republic of Korea

Age: 23

Last but not least, Bak 'Loki' Jeong Yeong has earned just over $900,000 competing against the best in PUBG (Playerunknown's Battlegrounds), the mega-popular Battle Royale shooter game, with titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone using the same game mode to enormous success.

Esports Earnings – Notable Mentions

The highest-earning British esports player of all time is 17-year-old Jaden "Wolfiez" Ashman, who won $1.125million after finishing 2nd in the Fortnite World Cup Duo Finals in 2019, the youngster is currently signed to British esports organisation Excel Esports and has earned $1.34million is his esports career to-date.

The highest-earning EA Sports FIFA player of all time is Saudi Arabian star Mossad "Msdossary" Aldossary, who has earned approximately $600,000 in prize money, with his biggest win coming in the FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final in 2018, when he finished 1st and won $250,000.

The highest-earning female esports player of all time is Canadian Sasha Hostyn, who has won around $419,000 in prize money for competing in Starcraft II.

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