Statements about playing video games as means to merely squander money, ruin career prospects, and the like have long been apocryphal.
Time and time again, the continuously evolving world of esports has proven that it is more or less El Dorado. The only difference is that hopeful individuals thriving in such world are able to acquire wealth by grinding games, instead of excavating treasures, for hours.
Most of the professional gamers on the planet, even if they are still in their 20s, are already able to score seven digits that shall seemingly be enough to fund the rest of their lives.
Yet, the money they amass are gifts that keep on giving because million-dollar tournaments, online battle cups, and many more will continue to exist in the future, virtually increasing their net worth ad infinitum.
As of 2018, here are the highest earning gamers:
10. Peter “ppd” Dager
Landing on the tenth spot is American player Peter “ppd” Dager, who first began his esports career at Heroes of Newerth.
In his transition to Dota 2, Dager initially played with a few unpopular teams alongside Swedish player Ludwig “zai” Wahlberg.
Despite his infamy for being “salty” in the industry, Dager has proven his worth multiple times as a master tactician and innovative drafter, paving way for the success of latter prominent teams he would be part of, such as Evil Geniuses.
Dager’s earnings are currently sitting at $2,880,266.36, with its largest chunk coming from EG’s five-streak championships at World E-sport Championships 2014, StarLadder Series Season 10, Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015, Dota Pit League Season 3, and The International 2015.
He is currently playing for Ninjas in Pyjamas.
9. Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora
Occupying the ninth spot is American player Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, who is dubbed as a seasoned veteran in the Dota 2 community.
Playing since 2011, Arora has already been with different teams such as Online Kingdom, It’s Gosu, Quantic, and Dignitas. He is widely acclaimed for his stint at Evil Geniuses and Team Secret.
Arora is famous for playing offlane with his signature Heroes Faceless Void and Dark Seer. His so-called “six million dollar Echo Slam” with Earthshaker during The International 2015 is considered one of the greatest plays in Dota 2 history.
Arora’s earnings are currently sitting at $3,027,735.67, primarily due to EG’s championship streak at StarLadder Series Season 10, Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015, Dota Pit League Season 3, and The International 2015.
He currently plays for Fnatic after relocating in Malaysia.
8. Maroun “GH” Merhej
Settling on the eighth spot is Lebanese player Maroun “GH” Merhej, who was once considered to only be a pubstar before he reached success.
After reaching above 9k MMR in the Dota 2 leaderboards in Europe, Merhej was able to enter the professional scene when he served as a stand-in support player for Team Liquid at DreamLeague Season 6—where they also became champions.
Since then, Merhej has been part of Team Liquid which will bag different major championships such as StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, EPICENTER 2017, The International 2017, StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3, AMD Sapphire Dota PIT League, StarLadder i-League Invitational Season 3, and the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
Merhej is famous for playmaker support Heroes such as Earthshaker and Earth Spirit.
His earnings are currently sitting at $3,056,909.18.
7. Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan
On the seventh spot is Pakistani player Sumail “SumaiL” Hassan.
Ever since his membership at Evil Geniuses since 2015, Hassan has carved a niche in the professional scene already despite being the team’s youngest player.
Hassan’s fame in Dota 2 began with his Eul’s Scepter of Divinity build on Shadow Fiend mid during the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015, influencing the metagame with his build at the time. His breakout in the tournament is through his Storm Spirit, which carried EG to victory despite having a bad 0-3 start.
Since then, Hassan is considered one of the most prominent mid players in Dota 2, despite being outspoken on social media regarding issues in the esports world.
His earnings are currently sitting at $3,265,914.94.
6. Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka
Lodging on the sixth spot is Finnish player Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka.
Vainikka’s humble beginnings as a support player can be traced from his inclusion at different teams such as Rat in the Dark, QPAD Red Pandas, 4 Anchors + Sea Captain, Team Tinker, MVP HOT6ix, and 5Jungz.
Vainikka’s greatest performances are with his membership at Team Liquid in 2016, which carried on even in his transfer at OG after that year’s The International. Some of his best Heroes are Earth Spirit, Rubick, and Io.
With championships such as the EPICENTER 2016, The Boston Major 2016, The Kiev Major 2017, MDL Macau Major, and The International 2018 under his belt, Vainikka’s earnings are currently sitting at $3,306,463.82.
5. Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen
On the fifth spot is Finnish player Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen.
Urpalainen rose to fame when he won the Assembly Summer 2014 with his team Veni, Vidi, Vici. As a “new” player during the time, his surprisingly high mechanical skills caught the attention of Dota 2 enthusiasts.
Urpalainen’s invitation at 5Jungz, which soon became Team Liquid, paved way for his outstanding career in esports, where he holds championships at EPICENTER 2016, StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, EPICENTER 2017, The International 2017, and the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
Known for his Broodmother, Visage, Lone Druid, and Lycan, Urpalainen’s earnings are currently sitting at $3,438,116.04.
4. Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov
Settling on the fourth spot is Bulgarian player Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Ivanov.
For the longest time, Ivanov has been a free agent because of his tendencies to have a new roster with his team, Basically Unknown, every once in a while. He also tried his luck out with teams like Oslik Gaming and Burden United.
Upon his invitation at Team Liquid, Ivanov has finally settled and found his place in the world of Dota 2, bagging the championships at EPICENTER 2016, StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, EPICENTER 2017, The International 2017, and the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
One of Ivanov’s notable performances in his esports career is his playmaker Nature’s Prophet during The International 2017. His earnings are currently sitting at $3,438,411.76.
3. Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barqawi
Occupying the third spot is Polish-Jordanian player Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barqawi, who gained critical attention after toppling Romanian player Aliwi “w33” Omar from the Dota 2 European leaderboards.
After reaching the top, Al-Barqawi was recruited at (monkey) Business, now OG, which served as a springboard for his rise to fame.
A prodigy of sorts, Al-Barqawi garnered a massive following for his high-level performances as a mid and safelane player for OG. This boosted even more when he became the first player in the world to reach 9k MMR.
Despite transferring to Team Liquid after The International 2016, Al-Barqawi maintained winning tournaments. He currently has seven championships under his belt: The Frankfurt Major 2015, The Manila Major 2016, ESL One Frankfurt 2016 (OG); StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3, EPICENTER 2017, The International 2017, and China Dota 2 Supermajor (Team Liquid).
His earnings are currently sitting at $3,671,337.28.
2. Johan “n0tail” Sundstein
Landing on the second spot is Danish player Johan “n0tail” Sundstein, who has long been in the esports scene since his Heroes of Newerth days.
He made a name for himself in several HoN online tournaments, under team Fnatic. He also won consecutive LAN tournaments such as the DreamHack.
In his transition to Dota 2, along with Fnatic teammates such as Tal “Fly” Aizik and Adrian “Era” Kryeziu, Sundstein was able to be part of upper seed teams in tournaments, albeit not winning championships.
Sundstein joined Team Secret in 2014, which won the XMG Captains Draft 2.0.
He then soon founded OG, formerly (monkey) Business, in 2015, the first Dota 2 team to ever hold four Major titles: Frankfurt, Manila, Boston, and Kiev.
OG was incapable to participate in the China Dota 2 Supermajor due to Aizik’s and Gustav “s4” Magnusson’s sudden departure, leaving the team only a few weeks’ time to prepare for The International 2018 Open Qualifiers (the “most bottom” of the tournament).
However, they still managed to emerge as champions after a rough 3-2 finish vs. PSD-LGD mainly through “comeback” games. As a result, Sundstein’s earnings are currently sitting at $3,733,970.56.
1. Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi
German player Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi still wears the crown for being the highest earning gamer in the world, as of 2018, with a whopping total winnings of $4,097,926.95.
Since Defense of the Ancients, or the so-called Dota 1, Takhasomi was already playing competitively under mousesports in 2008. At one event, he met Estonian player Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, who will be greatly influential in his esports career.
During the Dota 2 adaptation, Takhasomi’s early days were not much successful with teams such as GosuGamers.net, PANZER, and 10,000th.
He soon settled with Natus Vincere in 2013, alongside legendary players such as Oleksandr “XBOCT” Dashkevych, Gleb “Funn1k” Lipatnikov, Danil “Dendi” Ishutin, and Ivanov, landing second place at The International that year in a tooth and nail five-game series against Alliance.
He continued seeking greener pastures at Team Secret in 2014 as the carry, but was only partly successful by winning second at the Star Ladder despite his stellar performances. After some roster changes, he went back to playing support and paved way for the team to win some LAN tournaments, but was still unsuccessful after a terrible performance at The International 2015.
Takhasomi then founded 5Jungz, now Team Liquid, which bagged multiple championships such as the EPICENTER 2016, StarLadder i-League SarSeries Season 3, EPICENTER 2017, The International 2017, and the China Dota 2 Supermajor.
He is the first professional Dota 2 player to win 1000 games and play 107 different Heroes in his esports career.
With this list, Dota 2 has taken the charts by storm.
On the Top 100 highest overall earnings list provided by e-Sports Earnings, 77 are Dota 2 players. The Top 50 are also dominated by them.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive managed to register only 16 players.
The number of representatives from other games are measly: League of Legends (four), Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (two), and StarCraft II (one).