It’s safe to say that for a lot of people, 2020 hasn’t been financially positive. The same can’t be said for those finding success in the world of esports–barely halfway into the year, its top players appear to be making enough money to build Scrooge McDuck-style coin-filled swimming pools on their vast estates. Or in their parents’ houses, given how old some of them are.
Research carried out by Seattle-based esports bookmaker Unikrn has uncovered just how much the world’s top 25 players have won in tournament prize money since the start of 2020. And given how the lockdown has led to a boom in esports’ viewership, we can only presume this cashflow will continue to grow.
Up to this point, 2020 has seen the prize money pot hit $32.5 million. While this pales in comparison to the total prize pool of $227 million in 2019 as a whole, the cancellation and postponement of countless events–plus a busy end-of-year calendar–has pushed big-money prizes back to later in the 2020, or will roll over to create a bumper 2021 pot.
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The highest-earning player of 2020 so v bucks generator far is Brazil’s Paulo Damo Da Rosa, A.K.A. PVDDR, who won big at Magic: The Gathering Arena’s Magic World Championship XXVI in February. One lump sum put him well ahead of the field.
Meanwhile, the biggest team win came for the five-strong Spacestation Gaming unit playing Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege; the squad’s victories in Pro League Season 11 and the Six Invitational 2020 earned players Bosco, Fultz, Canadian, Rampy and Thinkingnade $210,000 apiece, putting them all in the top ten.
The youngest guns in the top 25 are Wolfiez, Furious and JannisZ. At a combined age of 47, the trio placed in the top 16 for success in–gasp–Fortnite. Wolfiez, A.K.A. 16-year-old Jaden Ashman of the U.K., took $130,000 for a pair of second-place finishes in both European FNCS Invitationals. The youngest top-25 player, JannisZ, 15, from Germany, won one tournament, while 16-year-old U.S. gamer Furious grabbed $121,500 for dominating the FNCS Grand Finals in North America.
If you think League of Legends was a kingmaker in the final payment table, you’d be wrong–the game is absent from the top 25. Even more shockingly, Chess24 made two appearances: Hikaru Nakamura and grandmaster Magnus Carlsen have claimed over $100,000 of esports money each in 2020.
While esports’ top-earning country is the U.S. ($6 million across 1,870 players) the best-performing country on a per-player basis is Jordan. And despite the highest-earning esports player of all time being absent from the 2020 list–Denmark’s Johan Sundstein, the Dota 2 legend–his fellow countrymen maintain the Scandinavian nation’s esports profile in another game. Five Danish players (Asger Larsen, Lucas Andersen, Frederik Gyldstrand, Rasmus Beck and Fredrik Jørgensen) make the top 25 for their victories in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Ryan Jurado, esports analyst at Unikrn, said: “As impressive as the prize earnings are in esports, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, thousands of players around the world make additional income by building their brand and fanbases with non-competition activities such as gaming streams, earn income with sponsorship deals, and receive a salary to play as part of an organized team.”
He’s not wrong: the earnings below don’t include sponsorships, bonuses, or salaries; some of these, combined, are thought to give certain gamers $500,000 per year each.
Top esports earners in 2020 so far
1) PVDDR, 32, Brazil (Magic: The Gathering Arena): $300,000
=2) Canadian, 23, Canada (Rainbow Six Siege): $210,000
=2) Bosco, 25, U.S. (Rainbow Six Siege): $210,000
=2) Rampy, U.S. (Rainbow Six Siege): $210,000
=2) Thinkingnade, 21, El Salvador (Rainbow Six Siege): $210,000
=2) Fultz, U.S. (Rainbow Six Siege): $210,000
7) Rogue, 26, South Korea (Starcraft II): $155,128
8) Marcio Carvalho, 34, Portugal (Magic: The Gathering Arena): $150,000
9) Wolfiez, 16, U.K. (Fortnite): $130,000
=10) Matumbaman, 25, Finland (Dota 2): $122,413
=10) Puppey, 30, Estonia (Dota 2): $122,413
=10) Zai, 22, Sweden (Dota 2): $122,413
=10) YapzOr, 25, Jordan (Dota 2): $122,413
=10) Nisha, 19, Poland (Dota 2): $122,413
15) Furious, 16, U.S. (Fortnite): $121,500
16) JannisZ, 15, Germany (Fortnite): $120,000
17) AcilioN, 23, Denmark (CS:GO): $117,688
=18) Bubzki, 21, Denmark (CS:GO): $113,800
=18) acoR, 22, Denmark (CS:GO): $113,800
=18) sjuush, 21, Denmark (CS:GO): $113,800
=18) roejJ, Denmark (CS:GO): $113,800
22) Hikaru, 32, U.S. (Chess24): $102,632
23) DrNykterstein, 29, Norway (Chess24): $101,170
24) Seth Manfield, 29, U.S. (Magic: The Gathering Arena): $100,000