The phenomenon that is esports has seen exponential growth in recent months.
Part of that growth can be attributed to the lack of live sporting events taking place throughout the first half of 2020 as measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic forced cancellations around the globe. However, even prior to this, esports was gaining in popularity in many areas across the world. While the pandemic may have accelerated trends, these trends already existed. The total global market for video games is forecast to reach $159 billion by the end of 2020, which is more than box office and music industry revenues combined.
Huge esports games such as Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends are attracting millions of viewers each day, with estimates from NewZoo suggesting that the industry will reach $1.1 billion in 2020. League of Legends is the most popular game, holding approximately 38% of the esports market. Earnings for players are growing in tandem with the increased popularity of the sector. While esports players by no means earn in the same bracket as their live sports’ professional counterparts, the pots are getting larger. In 2019, a total of $227 million in prize money was shared across over 5,000 individual tournaments. For those at the top of the sports game, the earning potential is huge. Some of the highest earners in the sector have a personal worth of millions. The Dota 2 team from OG is currently the world’s highest-earning team.
Topias Miikka Taavitsainen (Topson)
Topias Miikka Taavitsainen, known on the esports circuit as Topson, plays as part of the OG network, which is best known for its stable of players at the top of the Dota 2 league. The Finnish Topson won The International event in both 2018 and 2019 and has an estimated net worth of $5.4 million. Born in 1998, Topson has been playing Dota 2 since the age of eight and currently plays as a Solo Middle.
In The International events, he achieved the highest average number of deaths per game in 2018 at 7.28, and at the 2019 event the highest average number of kills per game at 9.43. Prior to his big break with OG, Topson played in events for several lower-level squads, before his quality of gameplay got him noticed in 2017 by professional organization SFT e-sports, based in Russia. He was later picked up by OG in 2018, according to betting sites, OG are one of the strongest esports teams you can back. Their odds are always among the shortest on the market, no doubt due to their star player Topson.
Sébastien Debs (Ceb)
Sébastien Debs is another OG team member known to other players as Ceb. As a Dota 2 professional, Ceb has played for various professional teams, starting with Team Shakira in 2011 and working through Mortal Teamwork, Sigma, Denial eSports and Alliance before settling at OG in 2016. Known until 2018 as 7ckingMad, Ceb changed his handle for The International event in 2018. Ceb made history at this event by becoming the first ever French player to win The International. He recently placed second in the 2020 online event Major ESL One Los Angeles. Ceb has a current estimated net worth of $5.4 million.
Anathan Pham (ana)
Anathan Pham, known on the circuit simply as ana, has played Dota 2 professionally for OG since 2016, after a short stint with Invictus Gaming. He won Best Hard Carry at the 2019 core export Awards and is the first Australian to have won an event sponsored by Valve. He formed part of the OG team that won two consecutive The International events, despite entering 2018 as underdogs. ana announced after the 2019 final that he would be taking a hiatus from gaming, following on from a previous short break after the 2018 event. The current net worth of ana is estimated at $6 million.
Jesse Vainikka (JerAx)
Jesse Vainikka, or JerAx as he is known to other players, is another Finnish player who has made millions playing Dota 2. JerAx officially retired from professional gaming in January 2020, after racking up a personal fortune of $6.5 million. During his professional career, JerAx went from being a support player for Rat in the dark in his home country to being a full member of several professional international squads, which include Team Tinker, 5Jungz, Team Liquid and OG. JerAx made history as the first ever player to reach four consecutive finals in the Majors – Shanghai and Manila with Team Liquid, followed by Boston and Manila Kiev with Team OG.
John Sundstein (N0tail)
Johan Sundstein, better known as N0tail, hails from Denmark and is an active member of the current OG team. He first began playing video games at only two years of age and his dedication to the craft can be seen in his personal net worth of $6.9 million. He is currently the most decorated professional player for Dota 2 and the only Danish player ever to win The International, which he has achieved twice so far. His professional career began at the age of 15, playing Heroes of Newerth, before moving to Dota 2 in 2012.
Potential esports earnings have increased exponentially over the past two decades and with the increase in popularity among spectators and gamblers, it looks likely that prize money will continue to edge up each season, which in turn should draw in new talent to fuel the ongoing cycle of esports growth.
Image via: Dot Esports