Money Moves: Professional eSports

Leveling up in earning potential 

“When will you get off that computer?” 

“You will never get anywhere spending your life online.” 

“Video games aren’t a real job.” 

We’ve all heard this and more countless times. Video games, while fun to play, ultimately aren’t a realistic way to make money or build a career. 

Esports, the professional world of video games, is a place where players and video game enthusiasts can carve out a living for themselves. 

Previously seen as a hobby at best, esports has virtually exploded over the last 10 years, evolving into a billion dollar industry with teams, coaches, broadcasters and support systems in place around the thousands of players. 

This transition was largely started due to the popular game League of Legends, who in 2013 became the first league to guarantee salaries to players. 

This stability gave dedicated players the opportunity to practice and hone their skills in ways that players without that monetary stability simply don’t have. 

More practice leads to better games, which leads to a bigger audience. Barrons.com estimated in 2018 that roughly 215 million people around the globe tuned into or attended an esports event. 

Clearly this is no longer a niche hobby for the few. This has potential to make some real cash.

Entrepreneurs quickly realized this and now we see teams and leagues spring up all over the world, taking talented youth and putting the time and resources into them to turn them into stars.

These players are able to pull in figures similar to baseball and football players, which just 10 years ago would have been unheard of. 

Part of it is the guarantee that comes with being a paid member of any sports team. Esports also have the added advantage of being able to earn money while practicing their game play by streaming their games online. 

These streams allow viewers to interact more personally with the players, which helps them build their own fan base and market themselves on a daily basis. 

Lee ‘Faker’ Sang Hyeok, considered the best player in League of Legends, brings in a yearly salary of around $900,000, not including bonuses and the money he makes from streaming. 

Kuro Takhasomi, a Dota 2 player, earns a salary of $ 3,626,277.75, making him the most highly paid esports player in the world. 

However, not every aspiring videogamer is going to be the next Faker or Takhasomi. What about the other players, the ones who are good enough to play professionally but not considered the best of the best.

In America, it depends a lot on the team that signs you and the title of the game you play. 

League of Legends players on the starting roster make an average of $65,000 to $75,000 a year, not including prize money and streaming money. It’s not uncommon for that number to hit six digits if the player is good enough to stick around for multiple years.

It’s more than just America and League of Legends. Five separate CS:GOplayers from Denmark have pulled in over $1 million over the last six years.

Is that the same as the $300 million contract that Bryce Harper just signed? No, not even close. But I could live on $75,000 a year if it meant all I had to do was play video games all day. And who’s to say that number couldn’t hit seven, eight or nine digits in another 10 years?

Is it realistic that every person who loves playing video games as a child or teenager will become a professional gamer? 

It’s no more than it’s likely that he or she will become a world-class pitcher or quarterback. 

If the parents who are telling their children that they can be the next Tom Brady are the same parents who tell their children that video games will get them nowhere in life, well, the industry speaks for itself. There is a market and it’s willing to pay.

For the dedicated few there is a future in esports. And that future is looking brighter by the year.

~Matthew Scherger, BreakingCNU Editor~


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