Over the last decade, video games have turned into more than just a way of keeping yourself entertained, as some people managed to transform them into a real business or, even more, a way of life. And this led to the ‘birth’ of eSports, professional video game competitions, which created a real industry, generating ridiculous amounts of revenue.
Every year, participation and spectator interest kept growing, so it was just a matter of time until major sponsorship deals were signed and financial backers appeared.
One of the best examples of how big the eSports industry got is the 2014 League of Legends World Final in Seoul. It was watched by more than 27 million people online, while over 40 TV channels broadcasted it. And this was five years ago…
In order to help you have a better idea of the size of this industry, we’re going to talk today about a few of the highest-paid pro gamers in the world, looking at the amounts they won in 2019, of course, the games that help them rose to fame!
So, let’s see who are those who make a fortune by playing their favorite titles, shall we?
#10: Shane ‘EpikWhale’ Cotton
First on our list is probably one of the best known professional Fortnite players of the moment, Shane Cotton. Or, how most fans know him, EpikWhale.
The Redondo Beach teenager is relatively new to this industry, but at just 16, he managed to make a name for himself after finishing on the podium the Fortnite competition organized at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, being crowned the third-best player in the competition.
As a side note, more than 40 million players from all over the world tried to obtain a spot at the competition and he was present on the podium. And he also received a whopping $1.2 million as a prize!
So far, his total earnings reached $1,269,350.00 in 2019 but considering his very young age and the growing popularity of Fortnite, we expect him to climb a few positions in the coming months.
EpikWhale himself made a top of his best moments at the NYC World Cup and you can check it out below:
#9: Emil ‘Nyhrox’ Bergquist Pedersen
Next up, we have another Fortnite player – we told you that this game is incredibly popular, right? Oh year, we did – who is also ridiculously young but already managed to raise a small fortune just by playing the game he likes the most, at a professional level.
At 16, Emil Bergquist Pedersen, from Norway, known as Nyhrox, is one of the Fortnite Duos Champions of 2019, finishing first in the Fortnite World Cup Duos finals. The most interesting part of this tournament, however, is that he wasn’t even among the favorites, so the shockwave that hit the gaming community was huge!
Nyhrox’s career as a professional started back in 2018 when he made the first money from gaming. It was just $3,660.29, according to esports earnings, but it was a start! So far this year, his revenue reached $1,509,516.19, placing him ninth in the top of the best-paid pro gamers in the world.
Here’s the moment he and aqua won the Fortnite Duos finals…
#8: David “aqua” Wang
Currently ranked third, considering his total earnings from gaming in 2019, David Wang doesn’t sound familiar to many gamers. But if we mention ‘aquav2’, a lot of Fortnite fans and players will surely know who we’re talking about!
The Austrian player gathered a total of $1,568,496.56 this year by playing his favorite game and he doesn’t show any signs of stopping. He also managed to generate a huge surprise this month, after announcing that he and Nyhrox are no longer a team, despite winning the World Cup back in July.
In the meantime, Epic Games decided to honor the duo for their achievement, by offering them their very own in-game trophy, in the Fortnite V10.10 update, released on Wednesday, August 14. However, we do hope that we will see them playing together again, somewhere in the future…
Here’s Aqua achieving a ridiculous 1400 points in Solo Arena:
#7: Harrison “psalm” Chang
Now, this is what we call a nickname that you don’t see very often. And the same can be said about the US-born player’s Fortnite skills!
Harrison Chang reached $1,816,300.00 this year – as a side note, his total earnings from 2018 were around $70k – after finishing as Fortnite World Cup solo division runner-up.
“I just stopped at one point and thought to myself, ‘Dude, I’m a millionaire,’ “ he said to LA Times, right after the biggest moment of his gaming career so far. “It just hit me at that moment. It’s crazy what I just accomplished.”
At 24, he is already used to being called the “grandpa” of Fortnite competitions but managed to build a solid community around him and we’re pretty much convinced that he’s still getting used to his millionaire status.
“That kind of money is crazy. It’s just surreal.”
And in case you’re wondering, this is his best moment at the World Cup:
#6: Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf
Moving on, we have another Fortnite player, aged just 16, from the United States, with total revenue of $3,030,650.00 in 2019 from gaming at the top level.
Like many other players in our top, Kyle Giersdorf rose to fame this summer, after winning Epic Games’ Fortnite World Cup and stacking up a ridiculous $3 million. Oh, and in case you’re wondering why the nickname, it’s because his grandfather used to tickle him and say “Bugha! Bugha! Boo!”. Cute, of course, but his account is definitely cuter if you ask us.
“I had no emotion, but it also felt unreal,” Bugha said after the Fortnite World Cup when he was invited in Jimmy Fallon’s show, just one day after his amazing performance.
We bet that his parents aren’t sad at all that he spent his summer playing video games instead of going out in the sun…
This is his full World Cup performance, showing how good he is:
#5: Anathan “ana” Pham
Ok, we’re done with the Fortnite players who won ridiculous amounts in 2019, so it’s time to move to the Dota 2 club. And Australian Anathan Pham is the first player we’re talking about!
The 19-year-old gamer got his hands on a total of $3,145,536.20 this year, but he’s no stranger to such amounts, as he is a pro ever since he was 16, while in 2018 he received over $2.2 million in prize money.
This year, along with his four teammates, he got to share the $23 million grand prize of the Dota 2 tournament The International, organized in Shanghai, in August, eclipsing some of the biggest names in Australia, including tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios.
“Thanks to all the fans that were by our side. Still cannot comprehend what just happened,” he tweeted last weekend.
It’s the second year in a row, his team, OG, wins the Dota 2 tournament.
These are some of the moments which got him the title of tournament MVP:
#4: Johan “N0tail” Sundstein
Yes, Dota 2 can help you get rich if you’re good enough. And 25-year-old Johan Sundstein is one of the best examples!
Along with his mates in OG, he got to split the grand prize from last week’s International tournament, reaching a total of $3,154,536.20 in 2019 from gaming at a pro level.
After the win against Liquid, N0tail, who is also OG’s captain, became the top prize-winning e-sports player of all time, earning over $6.9 million in his career. And this doesn’t include the sums he made from sponsorships and tutorials. But still, he’s not on this year’s podium…
Check out some of his best moments at the T19:
#3: Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen
Ok, so we’re on the podium and the third place in our top of the best-paid pro gamers of 2019 is Topias Taavitsainen, also known as Topson.
The 21-year-old Finn is part of the OG Dota 2 team and totals $3,162,536,00 in terms of earnings in 2019, after a very good 2018 as well, which brought him over $2.2 million in prize money.
Topson admitted that being a pro Dota 2 player has its perks, but also comes with some stressful moments. For example, during T19, the entire OG team was assisted by Mia Stellberg, a psychologist with experience in traditional sports and esports, who was responsible for keeping them focused and in the top mental form before their matches.
Apparently, she did one amazing job!
These are just a few of Topson’s best moments from this year’s tournament:
#2: Sebastien “Ceb” Debs
Our list continues with another member of the OG, Sebastien “Ceb” Debs, who, just like his Finnish teammate Topson, earned $3,159,126.40 this year, after the T19 Dota 2 final.
Aged 27, the Frenchman started his gaming career back in 2011, when he won his first prize money (less than $300, but hey, you gotta start somewhere) and paved his way to glory through the years.
The big money started coming in 2018, with the first The International win, while in 2019, he confirmed his status as one of the best Dota 2 players in the world.
This year, he was involved in a controversial episode, being accused of racism, ending up with accepting the consequences and being fined by OG with his monthly salary.
Nevertheless, these are some of the best moments from last year’s Tournament:
#1: Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka
And here we are, fellow gaming fans, taking a look at the earnings of the best paid professional gamer of 2019 so far, 27-year-old Finn Jesse Vainikka.
Ever since he was 20, the one who goes by the nickname of JerAx started making a name for himself and during the past three years, his accounts got bigger and bigger. And yes, you guessed it, he also received $3,159,126.40 just a few days ago, after the T19 victory, where along with his OG teammates, he dominated the group stage, followed by total domination until the very last moment.
So far in his career, the game won almost $6,5 million in prize money, meaning that he’s very close to fellow Dota 2 player N0tail in terms of earnings. Obviously, we’re very curious if he’s going to surpass him and how soon…
Check him out at T19:
And it’s a wrap! These are 2019’s big earners on the professional gaming scene. Dota 2 and Fortnite are dominating the scene, which leaves us wondering if we’re going to see a new game producing millionaires anytime soon.
In the meantime, do let us know which one of these pros is your favorite and why by dropping a few lines in the comments section below!