Esports was a hobby many dismissed as not serious. Yet, competitive video gaming evolved and as players became keener to show off their skills, so did the demand for esports grow. Nobody was really sure how the industry would develop in the early days, with skepticism still reigning. Today, though, entire esports teams have turned millionaires out of their passion for video gaming.
Whether you look at Dota 2, League of Legends, Call of Duty, or another esports title, you can see many success stories there. We introduce you to the highest-earning esports teams factoring in their branding but mostly focusing on their ability to generate revenue through conquering esports events.
Some have been around longer than others which justifies their higher earnings in esports, while others are only getting started. Naturally, some games do pay more than others. This doesn't mean they require more or less in terms of skill. A good esports team knows how to diversify their income, and that is precisely what is happening here. Let's have a look at the teams with the fattest purses and how they got there!
#1 Team Liquid
- Games: Apex Legends, Artifact, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Clash Royale, Fortnite, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Free Fire, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, Rocket League, PUBG, StarCraft II, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Tekken 7, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant
- Earnings: $37,399,323.25
- Tournaments: 1987
- Partners: Alienware, Honda, IMC Trading, HyperX, Jersey Mike's Subs, Marvel Entertainment, Monster Energy, Secretlab, SAP SE, Twitch
Team Liquid is one of the first esports organizations. The team is known for its early-day forays into Starcraft: Brood War, arguably the most competitive video game on the planet, requiring a level of skill that not many players have been able to achieve. As a result, Team Liquid has cultivated some of the most reputable players in the game.
However, Liquid, as fans colloquially refer to the organization, was keen to build on its legacy and in 2012 broke into Dota 2, quickly expanding into new games in the years to follow. A merger in 2015 with Team Curse expanded the scope of available games the organization was now ready to compete in.
Curse had an established presence in several games, including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros., and Street Fighter. Where Liquid went, growth followed. The organization ponied up for an LCS franchised slot and is still one of the most successful teams in both Dota 2 and League of Legends.
Liquid's winnings today stand at $37,399,323.25, and a lot of that came from winning Dota 2 tournaments, which historically have some of the biggest prize money around. Players can enjoy significant payoffs, and the team won The International in 2017, which sported a $24 million prize purse. Liquid bagged $10,862,683 for their first place.
Today, the team has numerous partners, including Alienware, Honda, Monster Energy, Marvel Entertainment, and many others.
- Founded: 2015
- Games: Dota 2
- Earnings: $34,550,723.59
- Tournaments: 116
- Partners: Red Bull, BMW, Fun88, SteelSeries, Secretlab, DMScript
The fact that OG is the second highest-earning esports team doesn't exactly surprise given their primary focus – Dota 2. As the highest-paying game on record, OG has been able to secure back-to-back victories in The International, the best-paying single esports event in the history of competitive gaming.
OG managed to win two editions in two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019, making history in the process. The odds had them as strong favorites for the 2020 edition, but that had to be postponed until 2021 and then subsequently moved to Bucharest, Romania, as fears of resurging COVID-19 increased.
The organization has only competed in 116 tournaments, but it is quickly closing in on Team Liquid. OG is exclusively focused on Dota 2, and while the team achieved a lot of success in the past years, some former members have retired as they have decided that winning millions off The International was all the motivation they needed to turn in early.
In this context, the team is heading for another ambitious event in Dota 2, hoping to add to their riches. Winning a third time in a row will be another milestone that not even the best teams have achieved, and the game has been out for over a decade now.
#3 Evil Geniuses
- Founded: 1999
- Games: Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, Rocket League,
- Earnings: $24,664,126.49
- Tournaments: 880
- Partners: Twitch, Secretlab, Monster Energy, LG UltraGear, coinbase, Absolut, PEAK6
Evil Geniuses is possibly one of the oldest competitive franchises in video gaming. The team has been around since 1999, and they have amassed significant winnings over the period, with their esports earnings exceeding $24 million across 880 tournaments.
The team competes in numerous mainstream disciplines today, including Dota 2, League of Legends, and various shooters such as Overwatch, Valorant, and Rainbow Six Siege, to name a few. EG's vast arsenal of skills, expertise, and experience makes them one of the most successful teams to enter esports games and conquer the very summits of competitive gaming.
The team finished 3rd in three individual The International events and won the grand prize during The International 2015. Dota 2 is not the only game the team competes in. EG is the dominant force in League of Legends in North America as well, and they have been successfully working on expanding their footprint in more esports games.
- Founded: 2011
- Games: League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, FIFA, and Fortnite
- Earnings: $16,228,122.73
- Tournaments: 963
- Partners: AMD, Anda Seat, BMW, Fnatic Gear, Hisense, Jack Link's, Letou, Monster Energy, OnePlus, Parimatch
Fnatic is one of the most significant esports franchises, and so far as prize money goes, the team has won a fair bit over the years. Presently, Fnatic's earnings stand at $16,228,122.73, and the team has active squads in numerous high-tier games and tournaments.
Today, the organization has active combat rosters in League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, Rainbow Six Siege, FIFA, and Fortnite, focusing on select titles in the esports space and ensuring that the players it fields are up to the task of winning for their team.
Fnatic has indeed been able to cultivate some of the best-performing teams in the world. The organization has undergone some restructuring, and it has foregone other established titles such as PUBG, Smite, and others.
- Founded: 2003
- Games: Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG, Fortnite
- Earnings: $16,002,549.35
- Tournaments: 544
- Partners: Parimatch, HyperX, Haval, Halls, Kingston FURY
Virtus.pro is one of the oldest esports franchises in Russia and a global force to be reckoned with in the esports gaming space. The team's earnings of $16 million place it as one of the most successful organizations in the history of esports, and that is a well-deserved title. Both the Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive rosters have been performing well without fail.
Virtus.pro has not missed almost any big event as the team has repeatedly delivered and managed to qualify for some of the most prestigious championships winning a series of distinctions. In CS:GO, the team holds numerous S-Tier first finishers with a few second finishers.
Meanwhile, VP has been fairly quiet on other fronts, with their last distinction in Dota 2 being the Kuala Lumpur Major, which the team won in 2018 against Team Secret in an epic 5-game series. Today, Virtus.pro remains an important contender and one of the richest esports teams in history.
- Founded: 2014
- Games: Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Hearthstone, Warcraft 3
- Earnings: $14,225,385.59
- Tournaments: 231
- Partners: n/a
Newbee is a Chinese esports organization that has won over $14,225,385.59 in prize money over the years. The organization's biggest success stories, as well as its deepest failures, lie in Dota 2, which paved an important win for Newbee when the team won $5 million, placing first in The International 2014.
Following their 2014 victory and the retirement of captain Zhang “Xiao8” Ning, the organization began sliding into various issues. First, it dropped its other competitive rosters, focusing entirely on Dota 2, but the years between 2015 and 2020 yielded very little traction with the competitive community.
Then, in 2020, Newbee's Dota 2 team was indefinitely banned from some of the biggest events in esports because of match-fixing allegations. Newbee is an interesting case as an organization. The team's name still lives on, but there are few organizational efforts to push things.
Newbee's match-fixing ban may have as well put an end to this team and esports outfit, but the fact remains that Newbee is still one of the richest esports organizations regardless. This also explains why Newbee has no active sponsors presently.
#7 Vici Gaming
- Founded: 2012
- Games: Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Earnings: $13,560,150.00
- Tournaments: 284
- Partners: Douyu, HyperX
Vici Gaming is another well-heeled esports team, and as one of the highest-earning esports teams, you can expect the organization to be represented in Dota 2. Well, you are correct. The Chinese esports powerhouse has been one of the most notable teams in the Dota Pro Circuit, placing 5-6th in The International 2019 and most recently winning the ONE Esports Dota 2 World Pro Invitational Singapore in 2019.
Much has passed since then, and Vici Gaming may not have secured many accolades since, but the team is attending The International 10, and that is a huge opportunity to add to its riches quickly and reliably. The organization has shown a lot of commitment and consistency over the year, which has allowed it to win prize money fairly easily and against the likes of Team Secret, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, and many others.
Vici Gaming also hosts teams in other games too, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and formerly Overwatch, Hearthstone, League of Legends, and FIFA. The organization's CS:GO winnings are fairly modest at $412,996.
#8 Natus Vincere
- Founded: 2009
- Games: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, FIFA, Fortnite, Paladins, World of Tank, League of Legends, PUBG, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends
- Earnings: $13,265,394.53
- Tournaments: 532
- Partners: Monster Energy, Logitech, Philips, Tinkoff Bank, Raid: Shadow Legends, AndaSeat, GG.BET
Natus Vincere was the first team to win a massive prize pool from an esports event in history with the organization's Dota 2 team members Puppy and Dendi leading the team to victory in 2011 and winning The International. The achievement marked a turning point in esports as a whole, as it demonstrated that gamers could procure instant riches.
Truthfully, though, a lot of effort went into that win. Natus Vincere, or Na'Vi as fans know them, have been training rigorously for over three years prior to their win and were already one of the best teams in the game. This resulted in Na'Vi briefly imposing its hegemony on Dota 2 but has since been posting middling performance at best.
The organization still has some of the highest overall earnings esports games can generate you: $13,265,394.53 in present-day winnings. Speaking of games, Na'vi is heavily represented across numerous titles today, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, League of Legends, PUBG, Fortnite, and others.
#9 Team Secret
- Founded: 2014
- Games: Dota 2, Rainbow Six Siege, PUBG Mobile, League of Legends, Wild Rift
- Earnings: $12,314,677.66
- Tournaments: 296
- Partners: MetaThreads, GG.Bet, Nvidia
Team Secret has a very strong showing in numerous esports competitions, including but not limited to Dota 2, League of Legends, and Rainbow Six Siege. Secret has amassed $12,314,677.66 in winnings across 296 tournaments, and while they are strong contenders in every competitive season, the organization as a whole has not been able to win the most distinctive achievements in its chosen esports games.
Team Secret has competed in eight The International events and has been fairly well-represented in League of Legends, albeit not at the same level as the Dota 2 team. As a professional esports organization, though, Secret is still missing from some notable titles, including Starcraft and Overwatch, and Hearthstone.
There are various reasons why this is. Secret may simply not have been incentivized by most championships out there, focusing on games with established prize pools. Or, conversely, the team could be looking to compete in games where its players will perform better.
#10 Invictus Gaming
- Founded: 2011
- Games: Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Earnings: $12,042,192.80
- Tournaments: 525
- Partners: n/a
Invictus Gaming is another professional esports team represented in some of the bigger esports tournament options out there. The team competes in Dota 2 and League of Legends, and it has been a lodestar in the home esports arena.
Yet, the organization is also competing in numerous other games, including Overwatch, Hearthstone, Starcraft II, Rainbow Six Siege, and CS:GO. These are arguably the most competitive esports games available today, and they require tremendous skill to master.
Invictus Gaming bears two significant distinctions in the competitive world: winning the International 2012 and the other, the team's victory in the League of Legends World Championships n 2018.