Home Articles The 5 Most Successful Esports Players by Game So Far

The 5 Most Successful Esports Players by Game So Far


Making substantial money from playing video games requires exceptional skill, dedication and long hours pursuing perfection in your game of choice. It’s not a career for the faint-hearted, yet many enter the world of competitive esports.

Ranking the top 10 players by income would be a somewhat one-game affair because according to esportsearnings.com and their top 100 list, the vast majority of the top 100 earners in esports are players of Valve Software’s multiplayer online battle arena Dota 2, or Defense of the Ancients. Instead, let’s take the top 5 esports titles right now and find their biggest earners based purely on prize winnings.

Dota 2 – Johan Sundstein

The game sees two teams of 5 players who each control a single character (called a hero) and face off against each other to try and win the gold-earning and itemization metagames which help them win fights and be the first team to destroy the other team’s main building called the Ancient.

Thanks in no small part to the staggering $34 million prize pool from 2019’s edition of the annual Valve sponsored competition known as The International (the 9th year of its existence), all 10 of the top 10 spots when we look at pure earnings are held by the first and second-placed teams at this competition.

Winning team OG holds the first five spots and runner up team Liquid hold the next 5. Topping the list is Johan “n0tail” Sundstein from Denmark, whose career earnings sit at over $6.9 million.

If you want to get your hands on some money for playing Dota 2, then you’re probably ready to get over to Unikrn’s UMode where you can put a stake on your own in-game performance and play games for cash and not just for fun!

Fortnite – Kyle Giersdorf

We don’t see a player of another game feature until 12th place, where 17-year-old American born Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf ranks with just over $3 million earned from the 30 Fortnite tournaments recorded in his professional career. It should be well worth noting that while the Dota 2 players managed to earn good money each year they competed, Kyle’s winnings in 2018 were only $1250 and in 2020 so far only $6600.

The vast majority of his winnings come from achieving first place in the Fortnite World Cup Finals in 2019, where he bagged $3 million for first place in the solo division. Kyle holds the honor of being the youngest esports millionaire because he was just 16 years old when he claimed the title and prize.

Counter Strike Global Offensive – Andreas Højsleth

We have to go all the way to position 41 to find the next game featured on the top earners’ list, where 25-year-old Denmark born Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth can be found, occupying the biggest earner in competitive CSGO with a total of $1.77 million earned over his career, which began in 2012. This is a total that wasn’t made overnight, with steady wins and income starting in 2015, with a breakout year netting him over $100,000 for the first time.

His biggest single paycheck comes from winning the Intel Grand Slam Season 1 title in 2018 and claiming the $200,000 prize for first place. Andreas is one of the most popular players in the game, currently playing for Team Astralis along with other big earners in the game Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Nicolai “dev1ice” Reedtz, both fellow Astralis teammates and Danish professional CSGO players.

League of Legends – Lee Sang Hyeok

Lee Sang Hyeok, going by the nickname Faker is a professional Korean League of Legends player who boasts a career total earnings of $1.25 million, making him the highest-earning Korean esports professional to date. Analysts and fans of the game consider him the best League of Legends player ever and tout his aggressive playstyle as incredibly entertaining viewing. His most played characters (called champions in League of Legends) are Ahri, Fizz, LeBlanc, Orianna and Zed.

Over the last 3 years, his earnings have been mediocre compared to his glory years between 2013 and 2017 where most of his prize income comes from. Winning the League of Legends World Championship in 2016 netted him his biggest single prize of $338,000. Faker has placed first in 18 of the 53 competitions he’s played in with his various teams.

Call of Duty – James Eubanks

28-year-old American James “Clayster” Eubanks currently plays in professional Call of Duty teams Denial Esports and Dallas Empire. He tops the earners for Call of Duty across its many releases that have been played professionally. He is perhaps one of the longest-serving players on the list, having begun his competitive career in 2007 when the game played was Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare. To date, he has taken $1.09 million to the bank in a career that has only just peaked this year thanks to the Dallas Empire’s first-place win at the Call of Duty League Championships 2020 where he picked up a classy $300,000.


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