Sports players earn absolutely astronomical sums. Falcao's $350,000 per week move to Man United is the perfect example of the extraordinary inflation hitting sports industries around the world. Wherever you turn there's a LeBron James or a Floyd Mayweather absolutely raking it in, but these huge amounts aren't necessarily restricted to athletes any more.
The world of eSports is coming on in leaps and bounds, and titles like Dota 2 and StarCraft 2 have ensured some of the biggest gaming spectacles in recent years. The Dota 2 International this year saw the creation of not one but five new eSports millionaires, and it's an area of gaming which only looks to be getting bigger. We take a moment now to have a gander at some of the biggest names in eSports raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars every year doing the thing they love, playing games.
1) Team Newbee AKA: Zhang Pan (Mu), Chen Zhihao (Hao), Zhang Ning (xiao8), Wang Jiao (Banana), Wang Zhaohui (SanSheng) - China
Total Earnings: $1,095,600 (Average)
I did anticipate this list being the top five richest pro gamers in the world, but I quickly released this would in fact just be this very group of five from the same Dota 2, so I decided to bend the rules a little. Team Newbee from China are the guys who had a little bit of success at the Dota 2 International a few months back, with the five-man team picking up a million bucks each from a single tournament. This makes them the world’s most successful pro gamers, and they’ve managed it all on a F2P title. The mind boggles.
Every single member has basically earned twice as much ever as the sixth place person below them. The International’s been running for four years now and the first-place prize pool has has rapidly risen from $1 million to $5 million and Team Newbee were on hand to reap the rewards.
2) Danil Ishutin AKA: Dendi - Ukraine
Total Earnings: $573,147.25
Danil ‘Dendi’ Ishutin is another professional Dota 2 player, this time hailing from Lviv, Ukraine. Known in the Dota 2 seen as arguably the most popular player in the world, Dendi has currently raked in word than $570,000 from Dota 2 play. He began playing Dota professionally back in 2006 before joining Na'Vi when Dota 2 was released. Na'Vi won the first ever Dota 2 International in 2011, before finishing as runners-up the following year. The much smaller prize pool of $1 million keeps Dendi significantly below the front-runners.
3) Oleksandr Dashkevych AKA: XBOCT - Ukraine
Total Earnings: $570,843.16
Oleksandr ‘XBOCT’ Dashkevych had a tough start to his professional gaming days, playing in the Planet-X Dota 2 that ultimately disbanded in 2009. Following this disappointment he went on to join Na'Vi along with Dendi above, finding second place second success in Dota 2 International and netting a share of the $600,000 prize money. His failure with Planet-X has hung over him for a while, but he’s silenced the critics by becoming one of the world’s top-10 eSports players.
4) Clement Ivanov AKA: Puppey - Estonia
Total Earnings: $564,360.15
Clement ‘Puppey’ Ivanov has made a name for himself essentially as a gun for hire, as well as one of the Dota 2 captains in the world. He currently heads up the Secret Team but during his Dota history he has played for a total of 9 teams, becoming a prominent figuree in every he joined. Primarily a Jungle and Support player, Puppey is renowned for his groundbreaking experimental tactics that can catch his opponents unaware and leave them on the back foot. He’s been a prominent Dota figure for the last few years and he doesn’t look to be fading away anytime soon, reigning supreme in a staggering 24 of his 45 tournaments. Take a bow son.
5) Lee Jae Dong AKA: Jaedong - Korea
Total Earnings: $554,104.05
And so we arrived at out richest StarCraft player. Lee ‘Jaedon’ found fame and fortune in StarCraft: Brood War, taking in over half a million dollars during a long and illustrious professional gaming career. Known competitively as ‘The Legend Killer’, Jaedon is a Korean player who’s made a name himself beating off some of the best StarCraft players in the world. During his seven-year career he has taken part in more than 60 professional StarCraft tournaments, winning more than 14.
6) Lee Young Ho AKA: Flash - Korea
StarCraft: Brood War
Total Earnings: $484,822.13
StarCraft tournaments in Korea attract upwards of 120,000 people actually at the live events crammed into the stadiums, more than many football World Cup Finals. That’s not count the millions watching on via streams and on team, and Lee ‘KT Flash’ Young Ho is on hand to grab the headlines. What makes Flash pretty special is his young age, he’s just turned 22 so he could still have plenty more heavy earning years in him yet, although he has struggled with adapting to StarCraft II. More than 80% of his eSports prize funds have come from the original StarCraft: Brood War expansion pack.
7) Jang Min Chul AKA: MC - Korea
Total Earnings: $478,722.98
Jang ‘MC’ Min Chul is once again a Korean StarCraft player, a country that has totally dominated the StarCraft scene over the years., as indicated by the prominent players in this list. MC was just 7 when the original StarCraft came out but that hasn’t stopped him having some barnstorming success with the sequel. MC isn’t shy of a challenge and he’s amassed that $478K by making sure he crops up everywhere; his current tally of 92 tournaments is more than double the professional average and indicates he means business.
8) Johnathan Wendel AKA: Fatal1ty - United States
Total Earnings: $454,919.23
Johnathan Wendel’s often considered a pioneer of professional eSports, finding success in numerous FPS tournaments from 1999 onwards. He’s the highest-ranked US esports player and found his most prominent success in Painkiller tournaments, earning $240,000 in this game along. He was also actively involved in Quake 3 Arena, Unreal Tournament 2003 and Quake 4. Things have cooled off a little for 33-year-old Fatal1ty in recent years, but he’s often still widely considered to be one of the best professional games players ever, particularly when factoring in his varied games played.
9) Jang Jae Ho AKA: Moon - Korea
Total Earnings: $443,618.85
Oh wow, how refreshing, another game that isn’t StarCraft or Dota on the list. While still an unmitigated success, the professional eSports scene surrounding WarCraft 3 never really took off in the way it did for StarCraft. Nevertheless Jang ‘Moon’ Jae Ho was on hand to scoop up the rewards. The now-retired Moon found little success with StarCraft 2, but made a full career out of WarCraft 3, attending a staggering 88 tournaments and winning or coming runner-up in over 50 of them. His professional gaming days might be behind him but Jang raked in enough cash to be the highest-earning WarCraft III player of all time.
10) Luo Feichi AKA: Ferrari_430 - China
Total Earnings: $443,571.62
And finally back to Dota 2, where Luo “Ferrari_430” Feichi squeezes into a top 10 (ish) spot thanks to his performance during the Dota 2 International in 2012, winning it with his team Invictus Gaming. He’s often thought of as one of the best solo Dota 2 players in the world, for what it’s worth.
There we go that's the top 10-ish, what do you think of them mega-salaries then? Don't recognise any GD'ers in there, I think you lot need to start working on your Dota 2 skills!