The Rich List 2019 is out and, while it features several names from the world of traditional sports, there's a distinct lack of esports stars. Well, not real ones anyway. So, based on prize money alone, who are the highest earners in esports as of this moment in 2019? Here's the top earner from some of the most lucrative games...
Liquid KuroKy - $4,165,926
When we originally planned this article, it was going to be the five biggest earners in esports history, but it quickly became apparent that would only appeal to the Dota 2 fans out there. Due to one tournament, The International, having more prize money than virtually any competition on earth, the list is dominated at the top by defenders of the Ancient, and top of that list is Liquid’s Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi.
As captain of Team Liquid he will be paid well, but it’s the 2017 TI win that puts Kuro in the elite, along with his record of never missing an iteration of Valve’s showpiece and presence on top teams. As the first player to reach 1000 professional games, it’s fair to say Kuro has earned his spot atop the list of esports millionaires.
Astralis Xyp9x – $1,453,191
As the highest non-Dota name on this list, it is something of a surprise to see Andreas ‘Xyp9x’ Højsleth atop the ranks of CSGO bourgeoisie, as he’s not the sort of person who instantly comes to mind when you think of CS success. His career is a long and impressive one, but it’s the back-to-back Majors and IEM Grand Slam that really give the Danes the boost, and Xyp9x is slightly ahead of his colleagues.
Team-mates dev1ce and dupreeh aren’t far behind, and it’s unlikely they’ll be deposed anytime soon. For all the talk about Blast Pro and the legacy of the Danes, they haven’t dropped a map in playoffs at either of the last two Majors, and there is no reason to think that will change based on their recent form. Truly an all-time great.
SKT Faker - $1,193,853
As the most famous player League Of Legends, which many people believe to be the premier esport today, you’d think Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok would be one of the richest men in the game, but he’s lagging way behind the Dota boys, and even the CSGO top dogs are some distance ahead. Having said that, this article only looks at the money won, and as the most popular and talented player in the world he will have earned much more through endorsements and salary.
A tough loss to G2 on Friday is going to be hanging over Faker’s weekend, but he’s probably the most legendary player on this list, and is accepted as the greatest player to ever touch League of Legends. A recent clip on Twitch summed it up, when he told fans not to worry, he is rich.
Yoshimoto Libalent Feg – $1,003,000
The only person on this list not to come from PC esports, and the only person in mobile esports history to break the $1m mark so far. The vast majority of that cash came from a single event, the Shadowverse World Grand Prix 2018, and, other than the cool mill he banked there, his other earnings appear to amount to $3,000. This guy really needs a good accountants.
Having said that, mobile esports are growing, and the lack of barrier to entry is only going to accelerate that growth, so you could hear a lot more from feg if his game of choice, Shadowverse, picks up in Asia or over in Western markets.
Jin Air Green Wings Maru - $745,639
Cho ‘Maru’ Sung-choo is the youngest Global StarCraft II League player in the history of his game, which is Starcraft 2. For those not in the know, Starcraft is one of the original esports, dominated by Korean pros that reached star status long before the idea of esports fame was common in NA or EU.
A contender for the greatest of all time in SC2, Maru has already established himself as a legend in a legendary field.
OpTic Crimsix - $714,284
Ian ‘Crimsix’ Porter is the main man when it comes to assault rifles and OpTic Call of Duty, and has been for a while too.
At 101 on the overall list, he’s the first console player to appear, which demonstrates the gap that exists between PC esports and console, and is also the most successful player in Call of Duty history. Alongside Scump and Karma he completes the core of OpTic CoD, and is one of the greatest to ever touch the franchise.
Those earnings certainly came in handy recently when Crims forked out for an expensive-looking engagement ring to pop the question to his partner. She's a lucky lady...
Pictures: Starladder, Blast Pro Series, Powder (Flickr), Bart Oerbekke / ESL.