The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

StarCraft tournament 628x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

As it stands today, the highest paid athlete in the world is boxer Floyd Mayweather. His earnings, with no endorsements, total some $105 million dollars. Footballer Christiano Ronaldo comes in second, with his bank manager gleefully overseeing around $80 million a year. Imagine that. Getting paid such substantial amounts for doing something you love every day, something that could hardly be considered a “job” at all.

But this is the dizzying world of the professional sportsperson, this is not for us mere gamers! We’re all out of work graphic designers or stuck in dead-end IT jobs. A bespectacled World of Warcraft player’s bank account is never going to look the same as LeBron James’ ($72.3 million), is it now? I bet your parents probably said this exact sentence to you only yesterday. But oh, how misunderstood us gamers are.

Like any pro sportsman, if you’re really, really good at winning, you can rise to the top – like the delicious cream in a milky underworld of quickscoping and sexually ambiguous usernames. And then, once you’re there, you can start makin’ paper. Some pretty serious paper too, as it happens. In truth, your bank account might not quite rival that of Tiger Woods’, but you’d be surprised at just how much you could earn for a few hours worth of pwning nOObs.

So, by way of comparison, here are the seven highest game-playing earners from around the world. Read on to find out just how much they’re making (or just how much you could expect to earn if you limber up your fingers and beat them).

It should be noted that these figures are based on prize money alone, and do not take into account the extra income from sponsorship and promotions. Some even charge you to watch their practice games on Twitch. Expect to easily add an extra few thousand for all that.


8) Lee Young Ho – South Korea

Lee Young Ho Flash e1403112627527 609x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: KT FlaSh    Total earnings: $449,516

FlaSh’s game of choice is StarCraft: Brood War, and in case you didn’t know, that game is huge in South Korea. Like, colossal. To the point where people who want a career in StarCraft (which is a completely eligible option) move to Korea in the same way that people who want a career in acting move to Hollywood. It’s gotten to the point where the Korean Air Force started up a team so the young pros didn’t have to stop playing when they got called up for their compulsory military service.

But FlaSh already lives in South Korea. And he’s probably done his time in the force. And he’s definitely pretty good, taking home just shy of $10,000 per tournament. Half of his total earnings were won before his 18th birthday.

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7) Clement Ivanov – Estonia

Clement puppey Ivanov The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: Puppey    Total earnings: $450,480

I just did some research on Estonia and I came up with only three noteworthy offerings from their Baltic republic. That they apparently gave us gap-year chat messenger Skype, drummer-approved Paiste cymbals, and a beer called “Le Coq,” which is mildly amusing.

What it also gave us was a very, very good competitive video game player named Clement. His game of choice, Dota 2, has racked him up a fair bit of pocket money, a large portion of which coming from Dota 2 tournament “The International” – which his clan Natus Vincere only received the entry keys to three weeks before it started. Not bad.

BONUS FACT: He also looks a lot like Rick Astley.

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6) Oleksandr Dashkevych – Ukraine

Oleksandr Dashkevych 540x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: XBOCT(4)    Total earnings: $453,311

This guy has 19 letters in his name, and only five of them are vowels. So whilst you bumbling Westerners try to figure out precisely how to pronounce it, let me fill you in on the legend behind the moniker.

After an arguably poor run with his clan Planet-X in 2009, the group parted ways. A few months later he joined the budding Natus Vincere clan (alongside previous entry in this article Clement Ivanov). Because of his history, indie studio Beyond The Summit rated his ability as 4/10 at a forthcoming Alienware Cup event. He subsequently demolished the top Chinese team, and went on to a shock victory.

At the following “The International” event, held last year, he added a (4) to his name by way of a middle finger to his naysayers. Unfortunately, however, he only came second – though it still netted his squad an equal share of over $600,000, so I’m sure he was basically fine about it.

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5) Jang Min Chul – South Korea

Jang Min Chul 642x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: MC    Total earnings: $453,926

Back to South Korea, and back to StarCraft. Are you starting to see a pattern emerging? On the circuit, MC is something of a veteran. At the ripe old age of 24, he’s one of the most traveled competition players around, particularly frequenting tournaments in and around Europe, and stuffing 79 contests under his belt in the process – almost double the average.

Aside from getting about, MC is particularly known for performing ritualistic ceremonies after any victories he may have accumulated, and in the 2011 MLG Providence Pro-Circuit pulled some weird, crowd-pleasing moves after his win while dressed as a Murloc. That’s way more exiting than Usain Bolt’s “lightning Bolt” pose, I’m certain.

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4) Johnathan Wendel – United States

John Wendel Fatal1ty 480x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: Fatal1ty    Total earnings: $454,919

Johnathan Wendel is widely considered to be the first, and best, electronic competition player ever. Unlike many of the players today, he plays a wide variety of games as opposed to specializing in one particular title. He made his name in the often overlooked shooter Painkiller, but has also ripped people to shreds in all manner of other FPS games, like Quake, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Doom 3, Counter Strike, and Alien Versus Predator (lol, what?).

He estimates he’s killed somewhere in the region of 5 million people online over the years, and if that doesn’t make you a legendary cyber-athlete, nothing does. Now something of an entrepreneur aged 33, he continues to play competitively outside of designing gaming mice and headphones and such. In 2010, he was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame and even holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for most kills in 60 minutes.

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3) Danil Ishutin – Ukraine

Danil Dendi Ishutin 640x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: Dendi    Total earnings: $452,841

Yet another Natus Vincere player, many consider Dendi to be the greatest Dota player in the world right now. Not much is really known about Dendi, other than that he has amassed over 26 podium finishes in the last couple of years, with more than 15 of those being gold medals. Umm… yes, that’s it.

In order to fill this second paragraph, here’s a list of things he could buy with his $450,000 in earnings since he went pro in 2009:

- A luxury South African villa, with pool
- An unfeasibly small apartment in London
- Several college degrees
- A round trip to Mars with SpaceX
- A Lamborghini Aventador
- A BGM-109 Tomahawk missile
- 900 Xbox Ones. Not that he’d be caught dead playing a console.
- 450,000 hammers from the dollar store

And so on. I promise, I’m a qualified writer.

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2) Lee Jae Dong – South Korea

Lee Jae Dong 608x360 The Top 8 Richest Professional Video Game Players In The World

AKA: Jaedong    Total earnings: $519,086

With nicknames including “The Tyrant” and “The Legend Killer,” Jaedong is something of a competitive videogaming heavyweight. He’s South Korean, so guess what his game of choice is? That’s right, we’re back at StarCraft again. Just in case you still don’t quite believe how popular that game is over there, bear in mind that over half of all the copies of StarCraft in existence were sold in South Korea.

In 2005, the country held a StarCraft Championship, and it attracted 120,000 spectators. To put that into perspective, imagine 40,000 more people than attended this year’s SuperBowl. What that is, is amazing.

And even with all the competition, Jaedong is the best, earning the most prize money of any professional gamer in the world currently, over his seven year career. He revolutionized the way StarCraft was played, he holds several records, and he earned half a million dollars from playing a videogame. He’s a badass, and he commands both your love and respect for that.

But in case you’re having delusions of grandeur about become a pro player yourself, it might be worth considering that these guys treat it like a full time job, training together for hours a day. Have a look at this clip – from excellent documentary The Hax Life, regarding exactly what these guys get up to – then see if you feel like you could still live the dream. Good luck.

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1) Team Newbee – China

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AKA: Zhang Pan (Mu), Chen Zhihao (Hao), Zhang Ning (xiao8), Wang Jiao (Banana), Wang Zhaohui (SanSheng) 

Total earnings: $1,005,661 each

I understand I’ve cheated a little bit here, but these guys recently won so much money that their team would basically now comprise the entire list, and I wouldn’t want the other entrants to feel too deflated. They probably do though, as the five members of Team Newbee bagged just over a cool one million dollars each – effectively doubling the previous record – in a single tournament.

The tournament in question was Valve’s International, a Dota 2 competition that’s responsible for so many of the other dollars in this list. This time, however, history was ready to be made, with the prize pot sitting at over $5 million, the largest electronic sports prize ever offered. Someone had to win it, and so they did. Ironically named Newbees, their skill and aggression proved they were anything but – and now they’re gaming millionaires.

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  • Anal Retentive

    5 Vowels in his name

    • Ciarán Utting

      I put this in on purpose to make sure people knew what a vowel was. You passed with flying colours.

  • Ryan Deadpooln

    Thanks to the video on the number one guy, I will never attempt Starcraft multiplayer.

    • CarbonBasedStudent

      If you play multiplayer you will probably never get to face someone of that level. I myself play at just under 100 APM and the leagues below me it’s pretty common for people to be under 50APM.
      So I wouldn’t let it scare you away from playing the multiplayer because they scale for skill levels.

      • ♫Aℓℓisǿnß®iệf§Vệgittằ♬Mîrặî

        Go play on iccup and see if you stand a chance.

        • CarbonBasedStudent

          I’m referring to SC2 which has it’s own ladder system and matchmaking that pairs you with similarly skilled players. I have no illusions about being able to perform on iccup. To put my APM in perspective, you need to remember that most pro’s can maintain 300+ without much problems. Something I’m not even close to.

  • JorDef

    Does playing a game professionally even still make fun?…

    • Rasen

      nope,u cant do whatever u want…

    • Ciarán Utting

      It’s probably better than working in a coal mine

    • Henrique Silva


  • Teemo
  • Jose Renaldo

    These guys deserve all the money they get. StarCraft players like Flash and Jaedong, for example, play 12 hours per day. They spend every hour of their lives improving their game.

    • Yotsuba

      Starcraft 2 is dead. Move on.

      • Michael Westen

        SC2 is only dead if you’re not in South Korea – that country lives and breaths the game…I’m not even sure why they bother holding a World / International tournament anymore though since it’s basically all SK players.

  • Cypeq

    professional gamers have hard time staying a top… it’s a chore takes up your whole free time and out of hundreds of thousands of PRO’s out there only about a 100 make enough to support themselves. While professional athletes playing in major leagues all earned themselves decent living.

  • Anthony Phillips

    Not that loaded in the grand scheme of things. Still interesting to read though.

    • Ciarán Utting

      Thanks Anthony. I guess they’re not that minted in comparison, but still doing pretty well for teengers playing computer games.

    • deatheffect1988

      not that loaded..must be nice..

    • Michael Westen

      Considering “professional” gaming was incredibly niche just a decade ago, it’s come a LONG ways.

    • blackMamba345

      well hey I much rather be not that loaded than not loaded at all

  • Shubhendu Singh

    *Raise Your Dongers*

  • Your Mother

    These guys will have arthritis by the time there 30.

    • Knee Doctor

      so? they have enough money for 30 new knees.

      • JA JA

        I’m in medical school and knee replacement/surgery can cost any where from $30,000 to $100,000 per knee…#gottem

        • Meh

          In USA maybe, but I doubt these guys will go to there for a knee surgery. For example, in Poland the same surgery costs ~$7000. Most likely it doesn’t cost anywhere near $30,000 in South Korea either. So, yeah. 30 new knees.

          • French

            If the surgery is required to keep playing, they will go to the United States so they don’t have to wait 18 months or longer for the surgery. So, no… not 30 knees.

  • Junior

    This list should be updated after The International 4 (DotA 2), 5 million for 1st place is just insane.

  • RavenCify

    after Dota 2 TI4 few days from now this list will all Dota :)

  • JonnHirons

    Man, I hate these guys.

  • CerN

    Actually, Flash is considered the best Starcraft player of all time, not Jaedong.

    • PeopleAreStupid


  • chiefy86

    I would bet that Matt hagg aka Nadeshot has more than the number 1 guy in the bank

    • PeopleAreStupid

      not even close

  • veno supp

    With the dota 2 international 4 with a prize pool of 10 million i’m sure at the end of this month this list will be all dota 2 players.

    also not so surprising not to see a lol player here

  • Jon Holden

    Bunch of gooks.

    • sixshot4 .

      these “gooks” earn more money and pssy than you yank

      • Jon Holden

        1. They’re professional gamers, they’ve probably never seen a vagina in person.
        2. Even if they had a girl naked, I doubt their tiny asian penises could possibly achieve penetration.
        3. You’re an angry little fellow, must be a gook :)

  • Marnus Stoop

    that is just plain scary and how many keyboards and mice do they go through in a year

  • NoButterz

    This obviously doesnt count stream revenue or else league of legends personalities would be on here. Doublelift is worth an estimated 600k

  • James Beal

    professional gamers…there is a few names missing from the list…even though he’s not a competitive gamer, Pewdiepie makes millions a year just playing games.

    • Herbalist

      Pewdiepie is a comedian when it comes to gaming, he got famous because people can have a laugh watching his videos, he isnt a professional gamer so his name wouldnt fit in here, his name would fit somewhere in Richest gamers, not richest pro gamers

  • Francisco Barraza

    FIx this list, 5 new player have enter, all of team Newbee of Dota 2, they have win $1,005,634.8 each.

  • MisterSir

    #3 Jonathan Wendel’s picture here looks like he just won a NASCAR race.

  • thestage

    these numbers are misleading. For example, you have Flash at #7, but that’s only taking his tournament earnings into consideration. He also gets paid a salary, and at the height of his powers (and Starcraft’s popularity in Korea) that salary was estimated to be around $400,000 annually

    • PeopleAreStupid

      He didn’t win the salary

  • Jon

    With the 2014 dota 2 championship, the record needs to be rewritten.

  • ben

    This is completely wrong valve dota 2 champion ships this year just awarded 5 million dollars to a 5 man team
    they each have more video game earnings than everybody on this list

    • ReMeDyIII

      Wait, wha-? Did you not read the list? The #1 guys are from the Dota 2 winners of five million dollars.

  • fak3d3ath

    Rofl Dota2 player just win 5 million prize.

  • Guy Incognito

    ALl these people are broke

  • dddd

    The boss toss.
    All bow down the number 1 ranked SC2 player in the world.
    (and no Taeja, he has won a upwards of 400K in prize money himself)

  • The One

    I am actually surprised that they dont get more.Do you know how much work it is 10. Hours every day repeating the same thing?

  • Renn

    I’ve noticed that this has been quite inaccurate. Unless you’re only counting tournaments this year ?
    For example Dendi is know as the “Dota 2 millionaire” with over $1.2M total earnings from tournaments. Newbee were taxed 30% of their $5 mil and 10% of it also went back into their organization. So just over $600,000 each.
    But i still found this an interesting read. I find it amusing that people stand up for “LOL’s” tournaments and think they are on the same level as star-craft and dota 2.

    • Michael Westen

      LoL has been around longer than Dota 2. Valve almost solely sponsors the entire prize pool too and they have a LOT of resources compared to Riot; it’s not any surprise Valve has incredibly lucrative prizes. Which is also mostly publicity for their moba that launched years behind LoL which actually launched MOBAs into the professional scene. Dota original laid the ground work, but did NOT launch the genre into the global phenomenon LoL did.

      • Luke Kido

        Dota launched professional moba league, unless you’re talking about revenues, which were so low compared to actual ones.

  • Danik

    Would you call Pewdiepie a professional gamer? It is his job after all.

    In a recent AMA he said he made about $4 Million last year alone.

    • PeopleAreStupid

      No, he’s not. He didn’t win anything. Plus he’s fucking obnoxious as fuck

  • Billy Beefcaked

    How do you kill that which has no life?

  • Mark Golding

    You know this is wrong? Right?

  • Sabian

    PewDiePie made 4,000,000 dollars of his videos but he donated most of it to charity.

    • PeopleAreStupid

      No he didn’t. He hasn’t made near that. Also, he hasn’t WON jack shit.

  • flyinghobbitsesss

    The na’vi team play tournaments year round, they should have more then that.

  • MikeDR2012

    I’m sorry, but I can’t watch the guys in the video smashing the keyboard. It makes me borderline anxiety attack and gets on my nerves at the same time. I never realized I was playing with a future hall of famer. I thought my buddy was just smashing buttons on Soul Caliper because he didn’t know what he was doing. Apparently he was doing about 300 APMs.

  • Brian Beauchamp

    I wish there were still Nintendo World Championships. I may not be good at Starcraft but I could beat the hell out of anyone on smb 3 or Ninja Gaiden or Zelda

  • Ryan Noh

    It’s kind of sad that the list has to be shared with DOTA players, based on income? That’s popularity, not the skill requirement of the game. Fighting game players and real RTS players (don’t start pushing Dota at me as an rts) are some of the real skill games. SC players should be at the head of the list by default, or line players up by game or at least genre.

    • PeopleAreStupid

      You’re a fucking idiot

      • Ryan Noh

        I’ll admit I was being butthurt about dota players making more money, the list does say “richest” players so it is going by just money, and just goes to try and prove that e-sports can be serious.

        I gotta admit I was kind of happy to know that the International was aired on ESPN and that it was successful enough to make the network consider airing more e-sports. I would definitely watch (a lot easier to watch on TV than deal with bandwidth overloads and auto-advertising). If Dota was the game to bring this about, so be it.

        I guess I should owe it’s popularity to it’s accessibility, and therefore it should be quite deserving. (you would see some real nerd rage if most-played-game-on-the-planet-LoL was on the list, but I guess I can really contribute that to the f2p and being too easy, hehe)

        But godDAMN that’s a lot of money, has any other game had such big pots?

  • Meaty Surprise

    With your logic VigiGaming should be number two on this list. As each of them still got upwards of 500k a piece as well…

  • Something

    He suggests that the Pro gamers make Less money than the mega personalities.. not the other way around.

  • Bas

    Daigo Umehara earned more. A lot more with Street Fighter

    • PeopleAreStupid

      No he hasn’t, he’s won a bit over $36,000. No where near anyone on this list

  • Bas

    Daigo earned $36.000.000 If you add this list up you wont come near him

    • PeopleAreStupid

      That’s $36,233.94 – Daigo has won, he doesn’t belong on this list.

  • Hadley

    God too good.

  • Akoo Si Jurdz Krischan

    no pewdiepie?

    • PeopleAreStupid

      He hasnt won anything

  • EstonianLols

    FYI: The beer is actually called “A Le Coq”, not “Le Coq”, which I hadn’t noticed until now to be honest.

  • penguino530

    Player of newbee only made 600,000$$ each as they did not submit their tax forms to the US government so they lost 30% and also had to give a percent up to their Coach

  • Ebm

    Also team alliance and team IG ARE richer than navi players since they won the international as well, this needs serious updating, and on top of the international,the Alliance one 100000$ from starladder tornament, while IG won 80000$ more from ESL one frankfurt.

  • uri

    the reason i hate playing games like dota/dota2 sc2 multiplayer.

    don’t get me wrong their doing something they love? for money. Honestly though this just ruins the competition of it all for the rest of us. I mean literally if your a working adult even with out a girlfriend/wife/kids in the picture you dont have all day to sit their and figure out every little trick in your game, but then you get non working children/adults who have nothing better? to do all day, frankly it just ruins my fun and many others from what i can read on here and in forums around the internet.

  • Adam

    No pussy EVER!!!!

  • almostfunnyguy

    no PewDiePie?

  • James John Landriault III

    Team Newbee and this year’s international felt rigged and unjustified for all the people who put money into the event. The throws from Vici gaming were unexplained. Legendary teams were out early, and then nationalist Chinese players who boycotted another team before the event wins!?!?! F them.. North american dota, will get this.

  • GameON dude

    If STEAM games allowed players to bet on outcomes, with the winners collecting the ‘pot o’ gold’ — Then gaming would really take off…

    After adding live betting, add in more tournaments with spectators betting & raising the stakes with entry fees…

    It would be great for first place teams to take hone $100,000 – second place $50,000, 3rd place $25,000, and 4th plave $10,000

    Cash competitions would promote more gamers and increase sales of Games on STEAM.

  • Jimbob

    Not the first time i’ve seen players earning cash as so-called ‘pro’ players, but the first time i see such high numbers. After 20+ years of gaming, i still wonder what a pro player really is. Seems to me all ppl care about is the cash and not so much the fun, Something which games were intended to be. My hands start shaking when i see that korean guy playing his keyboard like a piano player on speed. I def. need a drink to calm my nerves after that.
    My 2 cents : this aint gaming anymore, it’s about cash.