Sports is defined by Google as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” As children, did you ever imagine that video games could become a sport? Did you dream about that? Well, wake up because that dream is a reality.
eSports is the vision many of us had in our youth. Games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and StarCraft II all have their professional leagues. Prizes are more valuable than McDonald's toys, athe highest paid Dota 2 player has collected a total of $2,720,623.84 from 60 tournaments. That would equate to over $45,000 per match, almost the same as the US Average income.
The most popular eSport game is Dota 2, holds a plethora of yearly games. One of the tournaments, The International, is hosted by the game’s developer, Valve. Beginning in 2011, The International draws the world’s top Dota 2 players in a tournament against one another with a large prize pool. The International 2016 had a prize pool equating to $20 million.
eSports, like Football or Basketball, has its star players. Users like SumaiL, Fear, and UNiVeRSE, have each accumulated over $2 million each and compete in The International yearly.
We've decided to show you the Top 15 Richest eSports Gamers in the World. Through their total collected earnings, each of these players has earned over $1 million and most of them continue to play.
All figures are taken from esportsearnings.com
15 Johan “N0tail” Sundstein ($1,057,144,16)
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein is a Danish Dota 2 player with talent—not a surprise since he shares a name with Bach. N0tail was a player who started young and he is currently playing Dota 2 on OG, a European sports Dota 2 team.
N0tail started his gaming journey on Defense of the Ancients (DotA), the first installment of Dota. He then switched to Heroes of Newerth, a game similar in style to Dota 2, at age 15. N0tail, along with notable players Fly and NoVa, formed an unsponsored team.
After plenty of success with his teammates, N0tail eventually switched to Dota 2. While playing Dota 2, he saw massive success, winning 1st place in multiple events. N0tail is one of the first to win three events sponsored by Valve, the company who created big titles like Dota 2, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, and the gaming platform Steam.
14 Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang ($1,091,900.76)
Daryl Koh “iceiceice” Pei Xiang (try saying that three times fast) is a Singaporean Dota player who’s had experience with multiple games. Iceiceice got his career started as a famous DotA player, as he's won numerous awards for DotA and eventually moved on to other games.
In 2010, iceiceice shifted from DotA to StarCraft II. Iceiceice played competitively in StarCraft II since the game started in 2011 and placed second in the Blizzard SEA Invitational—a huge StarCraft II invite only tournament. After success in StarCraft II, iceiceice eventually moved into Dota 2.
Once he shifted gears, iceiceice saw much more success in Dota 2 and scooped in massive earnings. He’s placed first in a handful of tournaments and is currently competing with Team Faceless.
13 Aliwi “w33” Omar ($1,160,778.58)
Aliwi “w33” Omar is a Syrian Dota 2 player. Omar, along with Dota star MiSeRy, plays on the team Digital Chaos. Digital Chaos is a North American team who’s housed some of the best Dota players, including Aui_2000, w33, and MiSeRy, all who have earned over $1 million playing Dota.
W33 is fluent multiple languages including English, Arabic, and Romanian. Like several of the others on the list, w33 began his career playing DotA. W33’s gaming history dates back to 2004, when he was only nine years old and, in 2011, he began playing Dota 2.
For a time, before his professional gaming career, w33 studied chemical engineering. W33 then grew to be a popular pub star and eventually became Dota 2 famous.
12 Gustav “S4” Magnusson ($1,165,145.88)
Gustav “S4” Magnusson is a Swedish Dota player who is famous for playing the heroes Magnus and Puck—two Dota characters used for offensive playing. He’s currently an active player and plays on OG with the previously mentionned N0tail.
S4 got his start like a chunk of Dota players: on Heroes of Newerth, which plays in a similar fashion to Dota 2. After some initial success in professional Heroes of Newerth, S4 wanted to try his luck at Dota 2 due to its rising popularity.
After a short period of learning, S4 was able to see immediate success. At the end of 2012, he was competing in No Tidehunter—a Swedish professional team. Eventually, he went on to win The International 2013, winning a total of $1,437,190 with Alliance, his team at the time.
11 Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg ($1,184,448.04)
Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg, no relation to Mark, is a Swedish Dota player who’s made a name for himself at a young age. Zai started playing Dota at age 14 and, even though he’s only 19 now, he’s still one of the richest eSports gamers in the world.
Zai got his start on Heroes of Newerth. At age 14, Zai won DreamHoN, a tournament in the Heroes of Newerth community. After playing Heroes of Newerth, Zai shifted his attention to Dota 2 in 2013.
Zai went through various team changes until 2014, where he joined the group S A D B O Y S ,with other eSports stars like ppd, Fear, and UNiVeRsE. The team had a stunning 16-2 record which attracted the attention of Evil Genesis, a North American gaming organization. From there, S A D B O Y S was picked up by Evil Genesis and Zai remains on the roster.
10 Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen ($1,335,957.12)
Rasmus “MiSeRy” Filipsen is a Danish Dota 2 Player who plays for USA’s Digital Chaos Dota team. MiSeRy has a track record going back to 2008 with his highest earning year being 2016 ($982,876.80).
MiSeRy is known for being an extremely versatile player and has been on numerous, well-known teams like Meet Your Makers, a German multi-gaming organization with a history dating back to 2000, where he played a significant role. He was also a member of Evil Geniuses—one of the oldest eSports organizations in the US dating back to 1999.
Now, MiSeRy is part of Digital Chaos, a US team with a total of $3,933,669 in earnings.
9 Clement “Puppey” Ivanov ($1,348,176.36)
Clement “Puppey” Ivanov is a Dota 2 player who currently serves as the team captain for Team Secret, a European Dota 2 professional team. Puppey’s Dota playing dates back to 2007, with his highest earning year being 2015 ($446,222.82).
Puppey is a pretty popular player and this stems from his ability to make bold decisions, even in the middle of a game. He is skillful in all roles of Dota 2, but prefers to play in support.
Puppey is also heavily involved in musical endeavors, as he can play violin, clarinet, guitar and saxophone. Puppey sung in a choir for more than a decade and hopes to start a group of his own eventually.
8 Zhang “Mu” Pan ($1,390,711.90)
Zhang “Mu” Pan is a retired Chinese Dota 2 player who played for the teams TongFu, an eSports organization spinoff of TongFu Porridge and Newbee, a Chinese team that started in 2014. Mu started playing Dota recently in 2012 and took home $1,098,069.21 in 2014, his highest earning year to date.
Mu is a well-known player who takes risks that are a little more calculated than Puppey’s. Mu is a high risk, high reward player, which is likely the cause of his huge earnings in 2014.
Eventually, Mu’s luck started tanking; beginning in 2015, Mu started finishing in last place in tournaments. More losses led to Mu eventually announcing his retirement in August of 2016. Mu then joined Old Boys, a casting group, which means he might stay in the gaming world.
7 Zhihao “Hao” Chen ($1,759,847.03)
Zhihao “Hao” Chen is a Dota 2 Player who is currently not actively playing. Hao may be inactive, but has displayed some butt-kicking skills on Dota 2, which banked him $1,759,847! He earned more than Mu, Puppey, and MiSeRy, which makes Hao an incredibly huge deal.
When Hao was competing against the team RoX.KIS in 2010, he advised them to “pick Spectre [a team] for me, I will cut off my hand if we don’t win,” The quote earned him the nickname “Hao the Hand Cutter,” by various Dota 2 players.
Hao was known to be fervent in competitions. The impassioned player showed aggression and urges to kill - in Dota 2 only; he’s not a psycho! Hao played risky and didn’t mind going for the kill every chance he got, which made him a lot of money in the process.
6 Zhang “xiao8” Ning ($1,824,534.95)
Zhang “Xiao8” started hitting the Dota servers in September of 2010. Hao started relatively recently, but has driven his way ahead of others who’ve been at it for years. By 2017, xiao8 has raked in a whopping $1,824,534 and he’s not even the highest on this list.
Xiao8 has bounced around various teams, like most players. Xiao8 failed to perform in his first few tournaments in 2011 and Xaio8’s team at the time, Invictus Gaming, failed to show up at The International 2011.
Off the computer screen, Xiao8 married Chinese model Jie Zhao. Xiao8 appeared on a dating show to meet her and absolutely bombed on the first date with Jie Zhao. Xiao8 successfully escaped the friend zone and scored a date later when he re-appeared in an episode.
Xiao8 is now playing on the Newbee Boss team, a squad meant for more leisurely and less competitive Dota 2 gameplay, where he continues to make cash.
5 Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling ($1,930,128.64)
Aui_2000 is an active Canadian Dota 2 player who plays on Team NP, a North American continental team based in Canada. Aui_2000 began his Dota 2 domination at an early age. He started playing Dota 2’s predecessor, DotA in his teens. Aui_2000 remained a casual player until he started college at University of British Columbia (UBC).
At the UBC, Aui_2000 found a more competitive spirit when he joined the UBC Starcraft Club. In the Starcraft Club, he played under the name ValiditySAGA. He then moved his interests to Dota 2 once he learned about The first International tournament’s $1.6 million dollar prize.
Aui_2000 had two jobs and went to school while funding his career. After several years in the eSports industry, Aui_2000 has seen enormous success and he's accumulated a total of ($1,930,128.64).
4 Clinton “Fear” Loomis ($2,383,155.64)
Clinton “Fear” Loomis is an American Dota 2 player from Medford, Oregon. Fear is widely regarded to be one of the best North American players to ever do it, as he’s one of the oldest players and one of the highest paid.
Like some of the best players, Fear saw his beginnings on DotA. His track record dates back to 2005 when he formed and led a team called PluG Pullers Inc, who were one of the first teams to be sponsored.
Later, Fear played on a team picked up by Evil Geniuses. Along his DotA journey, he played on teams with other major players, like Puppey, MiSeRy, and UNiVeRsE.
After a successful track record on DotA, Fear moved on to Dota 2. He continued to play with Evil Geniuses, taking first place in huge tournaments like The International 2015 and Dota 2 Asia Championships, a Dota 2 world championship in Shanghai. Fear retired from Dota 2 in September 2016 to become Evil Geniuses’ coach.
3 Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan ($2,401,426.34)
Syed Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan is a Pakistani born, but is living in Illinois these days. SumaiL is another high paid player for Evil Geniuses, but he's also one of the youngest and best paid players in Dota 2. Because of that, SumaiL is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time.
SumaiL’s DotA expedition started at the age of eight. By the time SumaiL moved to America, he had begun playing in the elite leagues. SumaiL quickly climbed the ranks and became one of the best upcoming players in North America. His fame rose so rapidly that UNiVeRsE, a legend in his own right, pushed for Evil Geniuses to recruit SumaiL.
SumaiL is not only an exceptional player, but he’s also an inspiration and “celebrity” for the game. SumaiL was featured in Time Magazine’s top 30 influential teenagers of 2016, signifying the first appearance of a Dota 2 player in Time's awards.
2 Peter “ppd” Dager ($2,618,120.36)
Peter “ppd” is an American Dota 2 player hailing from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Along with some of the highest top players on the list, he played with Evil Geniuses. Eventually, he became CEO of the eSports organization.
Like many Dota 2 players, ppd started his eSports path with Heroes of Newerth. He began with the alias peterpandam and eventually shortened it to ppd. He jumped around various teams on Heroes of Newerth until he switched to Dota 2.
After various team changes on Dota 2, he met with legends UNiVeRsE, Fear, Zai, and Arteezy to form the S A D B O Y S team. Eventually, the became a revived version of the Evil Geniuses.
Ppd is said to be a penny pincher, as after winning funds from competitions, he lived in a small condo with roommates and drove a dented 1999 Chevy Blazer.
1 Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora ($2,720,623.84)
Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora is an American Dota 2 player and is the highest overall paid player in the world. With earnings rapidly approaching $3 million, UNiVeRsE is not only one of the highest paid, but obviously one of the best players. At the moment, UNiVeRsE currently plays with Evil Geniuses.
UNiVeRsE first for the Online Kingdom Squad, who placed 7th at The International 2011. Later, along with the aforementioned Fear, he formed S A D B O Y S with Zai and Arteezy, which then became Evil Geniuses.
Through his time with Evil Geniuses, UNiVeRsE bounced around to several other teams for little stints, but always returned to Evil Geniuses. In his recent departure, UNiVeRsE only spent several weeks with Team Secret, leaving abruptly before The International 2016. UNiVeRsE is back in Evil Geniuses alongside SumaiL, Zai, and other famous players.