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Who would have thought 10 years ago that Esports would become such a lucrative sport? Many Esports stars of today earn almost as much as athletes from sports such as Basketball, Soccer, and others. And the top flight of Esports players changes every year. Who were the top 5 highest earning Esports players in 2018? Here’s the full list:

Number 5 – Anathan Pham (ana)

Anathan started his gaming career participating in domestic Chinese leagues. The first team to notice him and his skills was Invictus Gaming in March 2016. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depends on how you look at it), Anathan didn’t stay with IG for long and, following the transfer chaos after The International 2016, ana joined OG as a replacement for Amer Miracle al-Barkawi who went on to join Team Liquid.

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Ana was largely inactive during 2017 following a disappointing finish with his team. However, he returned to OG in 2018 and in stunning fashion too. Anathan was a key player in securing OG’s championship run; something no one could have expected. Everyone will remember his Ember Spirit and Spectre plays.

Total 2018 Earnings: $2,249,136

Number 4 – Topias Taavitsainen (Topson)

Topson is a guy who lives and breathes Dota. He started when he was just 8 years old but hadn’t reached international fame until later in his life. To most people, he was known as a player that didn’t engage in larger competitions, largely opting to play in minor tournaments.

However, OG would go on to notice him at a crucial time. OG’s team was in shambles right before TI8 but after the acquisition of Topson, they went on to win the tournament. Here’s the interesting bit: Topson’s total winnings prior to TI8 were a ‘measly’ $3,790. His 2018 winnings?

Total 2018 Earnings: $2,249,841

Number 3 – Sebastien Debs (Ceb)

It’s no surprise now that the entire list consists of players from OG. They are the team that won this year’s TI and, since the prize pool is massive, all of them became millionaires! So, Sebastien.

Ceb is a player that used to bounce a lot between teams. He hadn’t achieved much success with either of them until 2016 when he joined OG. Though, he didn’t join OG as a player but as a coach! Unfortunately, after the players started leaving, he had no choice but to jump back into action.

He did this because OG needed a full roster to qualify for the International 2018. Many doubted him and thought that he just didn’t have what it took to win. Ceb showed everyone quite the opposite after saving his team from complete defeat in Game 4; a move that would force Game 5 which would eventually bring OG the win.

Total 2018 Earnings: $2,280,216

Number 2 – Johan Sundstein (N0tail)

N0tail is one of the worlds’ best Dota 2 players but it wasn’t always like that. Johan started his career in Esports by playing Heroes of Newerth; the youngest player to do so mind you! Soon after, he moved to Dota 2 alongside Fly, his long-time friend and teammate. They joined Fnatic.EU and played there for 2 years but hadn’t achieved much success.

They would both leave Fnatic.EU and form Team Secret.

N0tail and Fly would also go on to form OG sometime in late 2015. With these two in command, OG would go on to win 4 major tournaments; a deed previously never done. Unfortunately, this fairytale wasn’t meant to be as Fly and s4 left to play for Evil Geniuses.

N0tail was forced to assemble a roster on quick notice. They had to go through the Open and Regional qualifiers for a spot in TI8 and, well, it’s obvious they succeeded. N0tail was also featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list!

Total 2018 Earnings: $2,282,716

Number 1 – Jesse Vainikka (JerAx)

jerax dota2

And finally we have JerAx. Jesse is one of the ‘oldest’ players on OG’s bench having started his career in 2013. Since then, he played for various teams but hasn’t managed to win a lot of stuff. He played for Finnish teams in 2013 and 2014, then moved to Team Tinker in early 2015. Following a disappointing spell there, JerAx joined MVP HOT6ix in South Korea. He would then end up at Team Liquid who finished a disappointing 7th-8th in The International 2016.

JerAx joined OG in 2017 having been already established as one of the strongest support players in the world. He would stay with the team through their difficult and resultless spells in 2017. This newfound loyalty was rewarded only a year later when he helped OG win TI8! His support play is considered incredibly powerful and this is evident by the fact that he has TI8 under his belt.

Total 2018 Earnings: $2,290,631

Who says that playing Esports doesn’t pay?

All displayed earnings are from tournament winnings only. No sponsorships or salary were taken into account.


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