The best esports players can earn up to seven-figure sums. (Picture: Getty)
Esports tournaments – where people play computer games competitively over the internet – can have millions of online spectators.
The prize money on offer can be huge, and this isn’t the only way players can earn a salary from playing.
But how much do esports players earn, and how do they make money?
Winners of esports tournaments can earn more than traditional athletes (Picture: Getty)
How do esports players make money?
Esports players make money mainly from sponsorship and advertising, although prize money can contribute too.
Like traditional athletes, players are often sponsored by brands – and are paid to wear their logo on clothing or mention them while playing in a tournament.
If the focus is mainly on the game rather than the person playing, companies might pay them to post ads to their social media.
As the top esports players have huge followings, their recommendations reach a wide (and interested) audience – like a typical influencer account. Players might have their own merchandise, too, for fans who want to display an affinity to their favourite team.
Prize money can contribute to the amount a player makes, too. The organisers of the League of Legends World Championship tournament distributed almost $5 million (£3.64 million) in prize money last year.
Valeriy Vakhovskiy, a Ukrainian player who plays under the username B1t, is the highest-paid gamer of 2021 so far. He’s added over $100,000 (around £73,000) to his coffers in the first month of the year alone according to gaming website Esports Earnings.
Esports is a spectator sport, with hundreds of thousands watching streams. (Picture: Victor McConnell / SWNS.COM)
Which gamers earn the most?
Team Liquid made the most money in 2020, pulling in a whopping $23,916,431 (£16,6956,51) from the game Dota .
Add to that their earnings from games like Counter Strike ($4.6 million or £3.35 million), Fortnite ($1.2 million or £87,000) and League of Legends ($854,000 or £623,000), and it’s clear esports gamers can earn a huge amount.
Among the top earning individual players are gamers like Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, who has made $3.1 million (£2.26 million) from playing Fortnite. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen has made $1.9 million (£1.38 million) from the game CS:GO.
What is the average age of esports gamers?
Esports players – like pro athletes – are young. The average age for men (who make up the bulk of gamers) is 24. Women are on average slightly older, at around 27.
In 2019, 15-year-old Brit Jaden Ashman beat forty million other players to win the Fortnite World Cup – bagging himself around £900,000 in prize money.
The Women In Esports Committee is attempting to change the gender imbalance in the industry by running conferences and hosting games to improve representation. Founded in 2019, the organisation provides support women interested in gaming journalism, promotion and merchandisers, alongside gamers.
There are multiple players who buck the trend, too. So-called ‘Esports elders’ like Naoto “Sako” Sako, 40, continue to rank in international competitions.
Research by Engadget suggests that younger players find games that involve quicker reaction speeds easier. Players like Sako maintain their edge by visiting the gym and focussing on physical fitness as a part of their game – something that is becoming a lot more common amongst the most successful gamers.
Esports players can compete as individuals or in a team. (Picture: Getty)
How do you get involved in Esports?
The British Esports Association recommends volunteering for existing Esports teams, and trying to find a niche within the gaming world.
They warn that it’s not for the faint-hearted though – the road to fame isn’t all six-figure sponsorships and international acclaim.
People serious about playing competitively have to factor in huge travel costs. Flights, accommodation and entry fees can easily add up to around $5,000 (£3660) per trip.
Teams also employ staff – like more traditional athletes – to help them train. Backroom staff roles can include nutritionists, psychologists and strategists, and so a cut of any profits will go on their salaries.
Perhaps the most important upfront cost is the hardware needed to play the games themselves.
Whether your game of choice requires individual play or a team effort, it’s vital you have a console that can support high-resolution graphics and near-constant streaming.
The British Esports Association warns fans to be aware of the potential costs involved. (Picture: Getty)
Where can I watch esports?
Live esports events didn’t happen last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it seems likely they’ll be delayed for most of 2021 too.
Luckily, they can be watched online – with sites like Twitch and YouTube the best places to tune in. Popular games like Overwatch and League of Legends have accounts that post regularly, so you can get your fix pretty easily.
Games are also starting to be shown on TV, too. UK channels like Ginx eSports TV (available for Sky customers) show competitive FIFA, Esports F1 and Fortnite games.
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