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Published: July 22, 2021

Written by: Stoyan Todorov

How much does an esports player make has been a question that has long excited aspiring esports athletes. Today, we take the ten highest-earning esports players in the world and put them in focus. Apart from enumerating their net worth, we will provide brief details on how they started their careers and what game made them rich. Do not be surprised to find out that Dota 2 seems to be the game that brings the biggest dividends.

However, there are others, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, and with prize money growing all the time. We may expect a time when players in those games end up earning even more. For the time being, though, we will have to settle for Valve’s popular MOBA game. Let’s have a look at today’s highest-grossing players in the competitive world of video gaming.

#1 Johan “N0tail” Sundstein

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $7,184,160
  • Team: OG

Pull any statistic you want to, and Johan Sundstein will always be on top of it if you consider the highest earnings a player has generated in their career esports career as the main criterion. Still active on the esports scene, N0tail, known by his moniker, is the captain of OG, one of the most successful Dota 2 teams that started making waves in the competitive world almost immediately after it was formed in 2015.

N0tail has earned nearly $7 million by 2021, making him the world’s richest professional competitive gamer. He has done so through skill and dedication playing Dota since the age of 15, making him not just one of the top earners but one of the game’s veterans.

#2 Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $6,486,950    
  • Team: OG (retired)

Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka quickly made a name for himself with Dota 2 team OG, same as N0tail, and rode to victory in 2019 The International event, after which he retired in 2020. JerAx’s role as a support player was distinguishable, and the player himself has been around competitive Dota for over 12 years.

He has played for some of the world-best teams, including Team Liquid, but ultimately, it was with OG Dota that he rose to victory and managed to secure an enviable amount of money at a fairly young age becoming a millionaire out of his love for gaming.

#3 Anatham “ana” Pham

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $6,024,000
  • Team: Т1

Anatham “ana” Pham is another well-salaried Dota 2 player who has focused on winning major tournaments and bagging solid total prize pools rather than worrying about individual events. Even then, his esports earnings have not been too much of an issue for him as ana has an immense appreciation for the game.

He is considered the core of OG Dota today, and he is definitely one of the most dedicated players the game and gaming community has seen. While some have criticized his habits, ana puts a tremendous effort into his shaping up as a talented individual in the world’s highest-grossing game.

He moved to Shanghai at the age of 16 to play with Invictus Gaming and later transitioned to OG, where he has been since 2016. His story continues to inspire, but it’s also a caveat that going after your dreams still carries a risk. Ana did drop out of high school to play Dota 2 more seriously.

However, ana’s hard work has paid off, and he has been able to win major tournaments in Dota 2 and become the third best-paid cyber athlete in the world. Not a bad track record.

#4 Sebastien “Ceb” Debs

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $5,829,300
  • Team: OG

Sebastien “Ceb” Debs is one of OG’s own men who helped the team secure a back-to-back victory in the 2018 and 2019 International events, carrying his team to victory, which fetched OG $26,000,000 in total earnings from both events. A fair chunk of that has gone to Ceb, and while some of his teammates have lost the ambition to compete, he has stuck around looking forward to the biggest TI event on record – 2020 TI.

With a prize pool of $40 million, OG Dota is possibly looking to increase their earnings and propel themselves to the very top of the highest-earning esports players in the history of all video gaming.

#5 Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $5,701,000
  • Team: OG

Tired of Dota 2 players? Don’t be just yet because all top earners seem to be coming from Valve’s MOBA title. Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen is no exception, and he is currently playing in the mid-lane position for his team. 2020 The International will be yet another opportunity for him to add to his earnings and not just that, but also win a third consecutive title, making OG the most successful team in the history of the game.

Presently, Topson is 23 years old, and he has been into the game since the age of 8 or well over 15 years now. Winning a third title would be huge for him, and that is what he’s pushing for.

#6 Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $5,291,750
  • Team: Nigma Galaxy

Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi is not an OG team member, yet he is one of the richest players in the esports scene. The game he competes in, though, is once again Dota 2, and that shouldn’t surprise you. The player is one of the most prominent names in the competitive video gaming segment, and he has been around for many years now.

KuroKy has played through some of the biggest competitive outfits, including Natus Vincere, Team Secret, and Team Liquid, all of which have won The International. Since 2019, though, KoroKy and former TL teammate MinD_Contorl have moved on to create their own team – Nigma, along with other TL teammates that is.

#7 Amer “Miracle” Barqawi

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $4,889,000
  • Team: Nigma Galaxy

A teammate of KuroKy, Amer “Miracle” Barqawi is one of the highest-grossing Dota 2 and esports players. He has won a lot of his fortune with Team Liquid and in direct collaboration with KuroKy, hence why he, too, decided to start fresh with Nigma. He was part of Team Liquid when they won The International in 2017.

Nigma itself hasn’t won much, with the team amassing $500,000 roughly so far, but 2020 The International is a huge opportunity for the event to swing back in action to the top. They will, of course, have to overcome a whole lot of competitors.

Either way, Miracle is one of the highest-earning esports players, and that is a fact. Whether he increases his wealth would not matter much at this point, as the player is only keen on improving his team’s standing in Dota 2.

#8 Lasse “Matumbaman” Urpalainen

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $4,873,400
  • Team: Team Liquid

For one of the most successful squads in the game, Team Secret doesn’t have too many “top earners,” although the majority are millionaires. Make no mistake, Dota 2 players that play on the highest level do amass a hefty bit of money. Matumbaman has helped Secret reach some of the best tournaments, and while the squad has not broken into the first place of a TI event just yet, there is a good reason to believe that this may be coming before long.

Naturally, if Team Secret manages to break into 2020 TI’s first three spots, the team stands to win a significant chunk of the $40 million offered. The Dota 2 ecosystem doesn’t seem to stop, and esports players who go professional stand to win a lot. Matumbaman is just one of the hard-working individuals to have succeeded.

#9 Ivan “MinD_Control” Ivanov

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $4,680,760
  • Team: Nigma Galaxy

Another Team Liquid ex-member and KuroKy friend, Ivan “MinD_Control” earned a name for himself as a hard carry. Today, he plays off-laner in Team Nigma, and he seems to be happy with his decision. MinD_Control has an interesting story, too. Similar to ana, he focused on playing competitive Dota for years on end.

That eventually put him in trouble with his family and led to a fraught relationship with his father and mother, who thought their son is wasting his time playing video games. Objectively, they did have a point that video gaming may not be the safest career path to follow.

However, MinD_Control showed grit, perseverance, and no small degree of talent, which he successfully put into action and helped himself become one of the richest gamers in the world.

#10 Maroun “GH” Merhej

  • Game: Dota 2
  • Overall earnings: $4,294,390
  • Team: Nigma Galaxy

Another Team Nigma member Maroun “GH” Merhej, is a promising ace. He played with Team Liquid and many of his current teammates and won a number of distinctions over the years, including 2017 The International, EPICENTER Majors, China Dota 2 Supermajor, and many others.

GH has been a Team Liquid loyalist, but it wasn’t so much the organization that was keeping him involved as it was his teammates. When everyone decided to explore a brave new beginning, GH was naturally on board, and while he is yet to match his earnings with Team Nigma, he is still one of the most successful esports players with the highest earnings on record in 2021.

Why Are People Getting Paid So Much in Dota 2?

You may be a League of Legends person or not like anything but Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The fact is that Valve has created a very strong community-sharing revenue model that has allowed the game’s prize pool to grow over the years. Since 2011, The International has not had a season when the prize pool would not soar to double what its previous amount was. Of course, this natural progressing should come to a grinding halt at some point.

However, in the meantime, Dota 2 players who are already playing on the highest tier of the game can expect to be well-paid and stand to win multi-million prize pools. Naturally, the competition is high and defeating OG, or Team Liquid, can be a challenge in its own right, but there is a lot of talent in esports today, and Dota 2 in particular, so don’t put it past the new faces to top the earnings esports chart before long.

Esports Earnings FAQs

Do I have to play Dota 2 to be a well-paid esports player?

Not at all. Just because The International allocates millions of dollars every year doesn’t mean that you should focus on this title. You must focus, instead, on a game that you can advance easily into, whether this is Fortnite, League of Legends, Call of Duty, or something else. Many games today offer well-salaried positions with the big teams.

Who is the highest-paid esports player of all time?

Johan “N0tail” Sundstein. Once again, Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has managed to amass the biggest prize purse of awards thanks to his commitment to professional Dota 2 and a string of successes in 2018 and 2019 with his team, OG.

Who is the richest esports player?

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins originally made his name playing Fortnite, but has since diversified inot many other games. He is possibly the richest esports player, as his net worth is estimated at $40 million as of 2023. However, Blevins didn’t make his money gaming, but rather streaming and positioning himself well.

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