If you want to figure out just how popular eSports have become, you need to start looking at the incredible number of players who have become rich from their tournament winnings.
As of early 2020, 83 players have made over a million dollars playing various games, and even more, have made comfortable livings on the tournament circuits.
83 players have made over a million dollars playing various games
If you want to see the players who have made the most money, though, you have to look at DOTA. The International still has the largest prize pool in eSports, and those who have won this major tournament dominate the leaderboards.
Below are the ten players who have made the most money in eSports history, ranging from relatively new players who have hit big jackpots to long-time players who have accumulated fairly impressive bankrolls as they've grown in skill over the years.
Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan | Credit: joindota.com
Playing for Evil Geniuses, Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan began his career in Pakistan before moving to the United States. Best known for being part of the team that took home $6.6 million at the 2015 International, this DOTA player also stands out as the youngest player to ever break the million-dollar barrier in the world of eSports. His current earnings represent what he made throughout sixty-five different tournaments, with the bulk of his money coming from his 2015 International win.
Maroun "GH" Merhej
Best known as a member of Team Liquid, Maroun "GH" Merhej is a DOTA player that's managed to rise fairly quickly through the ranks of the wealthiest eSports players. His competitive career began in Lebanon in 2015, but he made over half of his money in The International 2017.
Though his big win might be a few years in the past, he still managed to place competitively in both 2018 and 2019, helping to add more than a million dollars to his earnings and quickly pushing him up to ninth place in the world.
Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov | Credit: Epicenter
Bulgaria's Ivan "MinD_ContRoL" Ivanov is another DOTA player who has made quite a bit of money in the tournament world. Like GH, most of his earnings came from his stellar showing in The International 2017. Unlike GH, though, He managed to break the six-figure mark in four other tournaments as well.
The Team Liquid member has been playing since 2014 but has made the vast majority of his tournament winnings since 2017. His competitive career has brought him four and a half million dollars throughout only forty-eight tournaments. A fairly impressive average for any player.
Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi
Team Liquid's Amer "Miracle-" Al-Barkawi is a Jordanian DOTA player who is best known for his part in securing a first-place victory in The International 2017.
Only twenty-two years old, he's rapidly made his way up the ladder by making over four million dollars in the last three years. His rise is even more impressive considering that he has played in only thirty-nine tournaments, thirty-one of which he's come in either first or second place.
He is also notable for having broken the six-figure barrier by the time he was eighteen, one of the factors that tend to unite these high earners.
Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi
Team Liquid's Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi is not just one of the highest-earning players in the world, but also one of the most respected. Considered to be one of the top players in DOTA history, his record winnings come from his long list of accomplishments.
He has played in seventy-eight different tournaments, but the two million dollar prize he pulled down from The International 2017 represents nearly half of his all-time winnings. KuroKy is notable for having a relatively lengthy eSports career, which began back in 2012.
His long career and high earnings make him one of the elder statesmen of a sport that tends to focus on youth.
Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen | Credit: Redbull Content Pool
Topias "Topson" Taavitsainen is the first entry on this list not to be the highest earner in his home country. Over half of everything that he has made was made as a member of OG in The International 2019, with almost all of the rest of the money he's made coming from his first-place finish in The International 2018.
Topson is a rarity on this list, not because of the length of his career. Still, for the relatively small number of tournaments in which he has played - he has only been in twelve tournaments, and he's finished below second place in half of his appearances.
Sébastien "Ceb" Debs | Credit: RedBull Content Pool
France's Sébastien "Ceb" Debs has played under several different names over the years, but it's his DOTA career as Ceb that has brought him both the most notoriety as well as the most money.
2018 and 2019 are the only years in his professional career that have seen him make over six figures, yet his back to back wins at The International 2018 and 2019 as a member of OG have more than secured his spot at number four on this list.
Like his teammate Topson, Ceb has participated in a relatively low number of tournaments - only twenty-six so far, and he's only won nine of those.
Anathan "ana" Pham | Credit: RedBull Content Pool
Anathan "ana" Pham is ranked third in the world among earners and DOTA players, once again thanks to OG's victory in The International 2018 and 2019.
With fifteen tournaments under his belt, ana made half a million dollars before the age of eighteen and has managed to make over six million dollars in just four short years.
One of the youngest players on this list, his rise to third place overall owes a great deal to both his ability as a player and the rising prize pools for The International.
Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka | Credit: RedBull Content Pool
Jesse "JerAx" Vainikka is the highest-earning Finnish player in the world and the second-highest earning DOTA player currently playing today.
He has made the bulk of his money from OG's wins at The International 2018 and 2019, but he also notably made a fair bit of money as a member of Team Liquid.
JerAx is a late starter compared to many other players on this list, only having recorded wins starting at the age of 20. Despite the late start, he's participated in significantly more tournaments than some of his OG teammates.
Johan "N0tail" Sundstein | Credit: RedBull Content Pool
Johan "N0tail" Sundstein of Denmark is the highest-earning DOTA player in the world. Like the other members of OG, he owes much of this to his membership on the OG team in The International 2018 and 2019.
Unlike his teammates, though, he was a member of well-known teams like Fnatic and Cloud9 before his big wins. A long-term player, he began playing in 2010 and took until 2014 to break the six-figure mark.
His long career has seen him win twenty-six tournaments and make it to at least the semi-finals of at least forty-seven more. N0tail's spot at the top is precarious, though, with only one major tournament separating first and second place.
eSports are in their infancy and as more players, viewers, and money comes into the sport we can only see these numbers grow. Do you think you have what it takes to become one of the richest esports players?