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Top 15 eSports Teams, Earnings, and Salaries

If you are not already interested in electronic gaming, you may be surprised by just how big an industry eSports now is. It is highly competitive, and there are tournaments offering sizeable prize earnings around the globe. A surprisingly large number of people compete in eSports teams to earn their living.

We have previously discussed the rise of eSports’ influence on brands. Many of the top eSports players are celebrities to Millennial and Generation Y fans. To them, eSports is as legitimate a sport as football and basketball are to the more athletically oriented.

Importantly, eSports are not just some niche fad, likely to become old news by next year. The interest in eSports has hit critical mass, ensuring that there are sufficient high-paying tournaments to justify a competitive full-time lifestyle. It even supports television coverage, for those who still prefer the big screen, rather than livestreaming via Twitch on their tablet or phone.

So who are the big names of eSports? What kinds of money have they been making, and what games are the most popular?

Perhaps the biggest surprise is despite Fortnite being the “name” video game of 2018, it doesn’t appear anywhere near the top of the high-earning tournament games. Indeed the most lucrative game by far is Dota, and variations thereof. Dota2, in particular, appears to be where most of the money is nowadays. Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video game, played in matches between two teams of five players, with each team occupying and defending their own separate base on the map. Each player independently controls a powerful character, their “hero,” who has a unique ability and a differing style of play. 

Here is an interesting visualization of the top 15 Esports Games by Prize Money below

eSports salaries vary by team and players. Teams must pay each player a minimum of $12,500 for the 28-match season. However, players in winning and well-sponsored teams often receive considerably more than this.


Top 15 eSports Teams, Earnings, and Salaries:


1. Team Liquid

Total Prize Money Earned: $37,489,465.88

Total Tournaments Played: 2027

Top Games:

  1. Dota $23,026,431.10
  2. Counter-Strike$4,986,175.35
  3. StarCraft $1,573,364.84

Top Players and Their Earnings:

    1. Ivan Ivanov (MinD_ContRoL)$4,462,254.00
    2. Kuro Takhasomi (KuroKy) –  $4,458,754.00
    3. Maroun Merhej (GH)$4,082,604.40

Team Liquid began as a gaming community website. They sponsored a Dutch StarCraft: Brood War team in 2010. Over time, the team changed the games they played. They signed their first professional players when they began playing StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty in 2010. They recruited their first Dota2 player in 2012.

In 2015, Team Liquid merged with Team Curse, gaining the Team Curse players and management.

Team Liquid became part of the entertainment and sports management company, aXiomatic, in 2016. The Walt Disney Company chose Team Liquid to participate in the ‘Disney Accelerator’ program in 2017.

Team Liquid has won various tournaments over its life, over a variety of games. Its greatest success, however, was winning The International 2017 (TI17), which brought them $10,862,683.


2. Team OG

Total Prize Money Earned: $34,550,723.59

Total Tournaments Played: 116

Top Games:

  • Dota 2  $33,917,126.13
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive $626,750.00
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee $6,847.46

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Johan SundsteinX (N0tail) $6,753,622.23
  • Jesse Vainikka (JerAx) $6,068,960.20
  • Anathan Pham (ana) $5,976,645.23

European-based Team OG began as the team Monkey Business, which rebranded in October 2015. They’re very much Dota 2 specialists. Their breakthrough came in the Frankfurt Major 2015, where they defeated Evil Geniuses, CDEC Gaming, and Team Secret.

They’re still newbies, as far as this list is concerned, making their winnings from a mere 50 tournaments particularly impressive.

Team OG also won the Manila Major 2016 event, making them the first squad in Dota 2 history to win two major tournaments. Indeed, Team OG won five of the first ten tournaments it entered.


3. Evil Geniuses

Total Prize Money Earned:  $24,668,338.49

Total Tournaments Played: 887

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 – $20,246,670.62
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive $978,950.00
  • StarCraft II $785,050.90

Top Players and Their Earnings:  

  • Sumail Hassan (SumaiL) $3,570,225.34
  • Saahil Arora (UNiVeRsE)$2,919,431.58
  • Peter Dager (ppd) $2,601,146.56

Evil Geniuses, aka EG, are a predominantly North American eSports organization, based in San Francisco. Alexander Garfield originally founded the team as a Canadian Counter-Strike team in 1999.

Their most successful player, Sumail Hassan, began his successful Dota playing days in Pakistan. Sumail’s father gained a job in the USA, and Sumail joined Evil Geniuses in January 2015. The team won the Dota Asia Championships a month later.

Evil Geniuses is a subsidiary of GoodGame Agency, owned by Amazon’s Twitch division.


4. Fnatic

Total Prize Money Earned: $16,253,243.71

Total Tournaments Played: 967

Top Games:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive $4,719,896.20
  • Dota 2 $4,149,469.64
  • League of Legends$2,901,706.44

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Jesper Wecksell (JW)$887,352.35
  • Freddy Johansson (KRiMZ) $866,247.10
  • Robin Rönnquist (flusha) $817,114.72

Fnatic is London-based, although many of its best players are Swedish. Fnatic has assembled dedicated teams for a range of games, including Dota 2, Hearthstone, and League of Legends.

Sam and Anne Mathews (son and mother) founded Fnatic in 2004, as they saw the potential future for eSports. They chose to build a team of good players from around the world. Their League of Legends team won the first League of Legends World Championship in 2011. It holds the record for the most League of Legends Championship Series split titles in the EU LCS.

Many consider their Counter-Strike team to be one of the best of all-time, having won three CS: GO Majors.


5. Virtus.pro

Total Prize Money Earned:  $16,008,141.26

Total Tournaments Played: 546

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 $10,202,985.11
  • CS:GO $4,086,190.63
  • Counter-Strike$364,412.09

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Vladimir Minenko (No[o]ne)$1,527,802.14
  • Alexei Berezin (Solo) $1,491,602.14
  • Roman Kushnarev (RAMZES666) $1,460,735.47

Virtus.pro is a Russian eSports team, established in 2003. Since then it has won more than 100 gold, 170 silver and 220 bronze medals in various eSports tournaments.

It has built a series of teams for different games. Virtus.pro has more than 50 players on its roster. These include a woman’s team they added in September 2012.


6. Newbee

Total Prize Money Earned: $14,225,385.59

Total Tournaments Played: 231

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 $13,523,736.43
  • StarCraft II$198,251.54
  • League of Legends $112,151.40

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Hu, Liangzhi (KaKa) $1,352,240.37
  • Damien Chok (kpii) $1,349,865.33
  • Zhang, Pan (Mu) $1,319,624.03

Newbee is a Chinese e-Sports team. It plays a wider range of games than many other teams. It has dedicated teams for Dota 2, Hearthstone, and League of Legends.

The team gained fame for winning The International 2014 (TI14). This resulted in winnings of $5 million, giving it the Guinness World Record for most prize earnings at the time.


7. Vici Gaming

Total Prize Money Earned:  $13,567,650.00

Total Tournaments Played: 285

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 $11,314,289.92
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive$758,420.46
  • CrossFire $335,923.86

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Lu, Chao (Fenrir) –  $1,176,283.25
  • Xu, Linsen (fy) –  $1,035,138.58
  • Xie, Junhao (Super) –  $894,309.77

Vici Gaming began operations in October 2012. They handpicked skilled players who were highly ranked on the Chinese Dota ladder at the time. They initially focused on the original Dota, although they have since expanded to Dota 2. The team finished second at The International 2014.

They also have teams playing other games, including League of Legends, StarCraft II, WarCraft III, FIFA, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.


8. Natus Vincere

Total Prize Money Earned: $13,296,248.57 

Total Tournaments Played: 537  

Top Games:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $5,224,301.82
  • Dota 2 – $5,001,749.87
  • World of Tanks – $708,511.80

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Egor Vasilyev (flamie) – $850,804.80
  • Alexander Kostylev (s1mple) – $842,131.58
  • Danil Ishutin (Dendi) – $785,365.03

Natus Vincere was founded in December of 2009. Gamer Murat “Arbalet” Zhumashevich created an open invite for all like-minded players to form a team. While Natus Vincere is now a Dota 2 and World of Tanks team, the outfit banded together to focus on winning Counter-Strike competitions. For gaming and trivia enthusiasts, Natus Vincere is also referred to as “NAVI”, which is borrowed from James Cameron’s blockbuster success Avatar. 


9. Team Secret

Total Prize Money Earned: $12,323,192.58

Total Tournaments Played: 298 

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 – $11,603,345.09
  • Fortnite – $201,825.38 
  • Rainbow Six Siege – $150,458.79

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Clement Ivanov (Puppey) – $2,319,335.68
  • Yazied Jaradat (YapzOr) – $1,513,068.87
  • Zheng, Yeik Nai (MidOne) – $1,328,076.87

Dota 2 is one of the most featured games and also one most eSports teams have made big bucks playing. And for Team Secret, Dota 2 is a staple. When this team was created in 2014, it quickly caught fire. It is also represented by many over 19 countries, making it one of the most diverse teams on the planet. 

One of Team Secret’s major accomplishments occurred in 2016 when they welcomed an international female Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. Since then, this team has gone on to expand its gaming roster. Titles include Age of Empires II, Apex Legends, and Fortnite.


10. Invictus Gaming

Total Prize Money Earned: $12,080,792.80 

Total Tournaments Played: 534  

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 – $6,665,768.87
  • League of Legends – $4,176,617.93
  • StarCraft II – $626,503.97

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Song, Eui Jin (Rookie) –  $592,204.77
  • Luo, Feichi (Ferrari_430) – $574,616.17
  • Gao, Zhen Ning (Ning) – $550,606.86

Invictus Gaming was launched by businessman Wang Sicong. It’s a multi-game eSports outfit with over 90 players, most of which are from China. Invictus Gaming burst onto the scene in 2011 with its win of the 2011 World Cyber Games. More recently, the team bagged the 2018 Demacia Cup Winter and came in at second place in the 2019 Spring Split regular season.


11. LGD Gaming

Total Prize Money Earned: $11,765,933.85

Total Tournaments Played: 152

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 $10,072,755.42
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Mobile$661,707.00
  • League of Legends $512,324.15

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Lu Yao (Somnus丶M) $1,184,271.67
  • Liang, Fa Ming (Yao) $1,176,225.71
  • Lei, Zengrong (DDC) $856,141.41

LGD Gaming is a Chinese multi-gaming team sponsored by Guizhou Laogandie Food. The team’s base is in Hangzhou, China.

It has separate teams of players playing Dota and League of Legends. The first Dota team grew out of the team For The Dream, which LGD sponsored in 2009. That team came third in The International 2012.

LGD then created another Dota squad, which they called LGD.int. It disbanded in 2014, but LGD signed up a replacement squad, which they called LGD CDEC, later rebranded CDEC Gaming.

In April 2018, LGD partnered with French football giants Paris Saint-Germain to create a squad called PSG.LGD.


12. Cloud9

Total Prize Money Earned: $10,440,436.99 

Total Tournaments Played: 809  

Top Games:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $2,590,791.19
  • Dota 2 – $2,123,549.64
  • League of Legends – $1,983,216.65

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Tyler Latham (Skadoodle) – $412,165.37
  • Jakey Yip (Stewie2k) – $388,050.00
  • Timothy Ta (autimatic) – $382,331.29

Cloud9 was formed in 2013. Today it is home to over 90 professional gamers. Cloud9 has gamers in teams for chess, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, Halo, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG Mobile, Rainbow Six Siege, Super Smash Bros Melee, Teamfight Tactics, VALORANT, and World of Warcraft. This team has also bagged 145 first places, and 14 honors, making them a rising star.


13. T1

Total Prize Money Earned: $10,403,121.11 

Total Tournaments Played: 382   

Top Games:

  • League of Legends – $7,170,066.51
  • StarCraft II – $1,143,991.90
  • StarCraft: Brood War – $746,171.21

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Lee, Sang Hyeok (Faker) – $1,259,840.88
  • Lee, Jae Wan (Wolf) – $908,949.92
  • Bae, Jun Sik (Bang) – $907,269.07

T1 is one of the older eSports teams around. Launched in 2003, the team was then known as SK Telecom or SKT T1. It’s a South Korean team with reach into Seoul, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. T1 is widely known for its participation in League of Legends, Fortnite, Dota 2, PUBG, Super Smash Bros., Hearthstone, and Apex Legends gaming competitions. Notable performances include winning 2013, 2015, and 2016 League of Legends World Championships.


14. FaZe Clan

Total Prize Money Earned: $10,135,006.50 

Total Tournaments Played: 434   

Top Games:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – $3,835,028.94
  • Fortnite – $2,155,343.79
  • PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS – $1,611,912.00

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Håvard Nygaard (rain) – $768,779.20
  • Nikola Kovač (NiKo) – $666,634.54
  • Finn Andersen (karrigan) – $561,325.87

FaZe Clan is a popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive gaming team. Alongside Fortnite and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive accounts for over 60% of its earnings. Founded in 2010, this team has exploded from a group of teens with video cams and a love for video gaming and into a multinational army of gamers. FaZe Clan also plays Rainbow Six Siege, COD: WWII, and Valorant, and are the 2021 Call of Duty League Champions.


15. Paris Saint-Germain Esports

Total Prize Money Earned: $10,132,123.68  

Total Tournaments Played: 88  

Top Games:

  • Dota 2 – $9,477,940.69
  • Brawl Stars – $228,600.00
  • Rocket League – $213,449.38

Top Players and Their Earnings:

  • Wang, Chunyu (Ame) – $1,832,961.52
  • Yang, Shenyi (Chalice) – $1,795,503.74
  • Xu, Linsen (fy) – $1,795,503.74

Paris Saint-Germain Esports is a French professional eSports brand. Founded in 2016, it’s become home to over 90 gamers from around the globe. While the team made most of its money from Dota 2, Brawl Star, and Rocket League, it also dabbles in League of Legends and has a strong affinity for FIFA ‘17, ‘18, and ‘19. 

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