Electronic sports has long been seen as the red-haired step-sibling of professional sports. It is seen as a way for the athletically un-inclined to participate in equal competition with each other. A way for these “athletes” to avoid the ridicule of the star quarterback and his entourage.
That was years ago. Now esports is seen as a legitimate way to make a living. Did you know the highest paid e-athletes are all multi-millionaires?
These athletes compete most frequently in three games: Dota 2, League of Legends (LoL), and Heroes of the Storm. In fact, Heroes of the Storm has become so popular that competitions have become nationally televised on various networks as well as online.
Esports has become so enormously popular that the developer of Dota 2 claims there was a total of $64 million in prize money up for grabs in 2015.
E-athletes have become such a hot commodity that three-time NBA champion Rick Fox bought his own esports team for competition in League of Legends.
So, if esports has become this big, who exactly are the multi-millionaires? Below are the top ten highest earning esports athletes.
Below are the top ten highest earning esports athletes.
10. Zhang, Pan – $1,214,654.91
Since entering the e-arena, Zhang, Pan has made an impressive sum of money playing Dota 2 competitively. In total, Zhang has participated in 41 tournaments and has placed first ten times. In 2014 Zhang peaked, earning $1.1 million from 14 tournaments.
9. Jiao, Wang – $1,217,250.16
Another Dota 2 master, Jiao, Wang has earned quite the impressive sum over his 43 tournament career. Similar to Zhang, Jiao appears to have peaked in 2014, earning $1.1 million over 19 competitions. In 2015 Jiao’s only participated in six tournaments and earned a grand total of $31,315.
8. Clement Ivanov – $1,287,405.96
Hailing from Estonia, the impressive 25-year-old has participated in 69 tournaments in his career. From 2012 to 2015 Ivanov competed in 59 tournaments, peaking with 18 in 2013. His most profitable year, however, was 2015 when he earned $448,222 from 14 tournaments. So far in 2016 he is on pace to shatter that record having already earned $228,886 for just four tournaments.
7. Chen, Zhihao – $1,583,790.03
Another 25-year-old esports wonder, Chen has amassed a huge sum of money over a seven year career. Competing a total of 51 times, Chen’s earnings peaked in 2014 with $1.1 million. In 2015 earnings fell to a still impressive $383,286 and 2016 will likely see another decline with only $14,843 earned so far.
6. Zhang, Ning -$1,664,602.73
Zhang’s career surged in 2014 and 2015, earning $1.5 million over 23 tournaments. In 2016 Zhang has gone nearly dormant though, only participating in one tournament. Sometimes one tournament is all a player needs, as proven by the $1.05 million pot Zhang took home for placing first in the Dota 2 international championship tournament in 2014.