The 10 Richest Pro Gamers in the World (2024)

Who says you can’t make money playing video games?

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of various game controllers

If you could go back in time, like Link does in the Ocarina of Time, and tell somebody that in a few decades people would be earning a living by playing video games, you’d be bound to get met with some queer looks… A bit like Brok does in God of War IV.

However, earning (more than) a decent living as a gamer is possible in the 21st century, be that through game testing, live streaming or competitive gaming. Since you’re here, we’ll assume that you love games as much as Mario loves Peach, and that you may be flirting with the idea of becoming a professional gamer.

To show you just how possible it is, let’s look at the richest professional gamers in the world, as identified by Esports Earnings!

10. KuroKy (Kuro Takhasomi)

Kuro TakhasomiTelecom Asia Sport

Current team: Team Nigma

Nationality: German–Iranian

Earnings to date: $5,291,572.93

Kuro Takhasomi was born in 1992 in Berlin. A disability affecting his legs, making it difficult for him to walk or play sports, became one of the reasons why he discovered, as a kid, a talent and passion for playing video games.

KuroKy’s professional gaming career began at the age of 16 in Defense of the Ancients, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) strategy game. He played for a few German DotA teams before joining mousesports, his first international team, in 2008. Since then, he has played DotA 2 with various teams including Team Liquid and Nigma Galaxy.

9. Mira (Miroslav Kolpakov)


Current team: Team Spirit

Nationality: Ukrainian

Earnings to date: $5,407,579.65

Born in 1999, Miroslav Kolpakov is a Ukrainian DotA 2 gamer currently playing for Team Spirit. His first encounter with the online multiplayer game took place at an internet café when Miroslav was 12 — but it wasn’t until the age of 16 that he started playing more seriously.

His professional career began in May 2019. Since then, he has become a two-time The International winner, winning two of the annual tournaments (in 2021 and 2023) organized by video game development and digital distribution company Valve.

8. Collapse (Magomed Khalilov)

Magomed KhalilovLiquipedia

Current team: Team Spirit

Nationality: Russia

Earnings to date: $5,421,791.67

Like Mira, Magomed Khalilov is a DotA 2 player currently competing with Team Spirit. Born in Russia in 2002, he began playing DotA 2 at the age of 13, after hearing about the game from his friends. In 2017, he decided to try and turn his passion for the game into a career.

That year, Magomed formed an amateur team with his friends and competed in smaller commercial tournaments as well as the Russian Esports Cup. Then, he got invited into Cascade, a Ukrainian esports organization, where he earned his first paycheck for playing video games.

Playing alongside his Team Spirit teammates, Magomed became a two-time TI winner, beating the 2021 and 2023 tournaments.

7. Yatoro (Ilya Mulyarchuk)

Ilya MulyarchukAFK Gaming

Current team: Team Spirit

Nationality: Ukrainian

Earnings to date: $5,425,553.55

Illya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk is a Ukrainian player, born in 2003, who is currently playing for Team Spirit next to Collapse and Mira.

In the 2021 TI tournament, which Team Spirit won, Yatoro played 14 different heroes in 20 games, helping his team take the championship. He is the current record holder for most rampages in the TI main stage.

Yatoro famously shaved his head during the 2021 TI tournament, saying: “I shaved my head as a sacrifice to the god of DotA.” Well — it certainly worked!

6. Miposhka (Yaroslav Naidenov)

Yaroslav NaidenovHawk

Current team: Team Spirit

Nationality: Russian

Earnings to date: $5,653,952.09

Fellow teammate to the Team Spirit players we mentioned above, Yaroslav Naidenov was born in 1997 in Russia. He began his DotA career in 2015, when he competed in the International 2015 European Open Qualifiers.

Yaroslav achieved the highest number of deaths per game at the 2017 TI tournament, where he was captain of the Team Empire roster. He was also captain to his current team, Team Spirit, at The International 2021, taking away the Aegis of Champions trophy.

5. Topson (Topias Taavitsainen)

Topias TaavitsainenONE Esports

Current team: Tundra Esports

Nationality: Finnish

Earnings to date: $5,726,841.20

Topias Taavitsainen is a Finnish professional DotA 2 player currently competing with Tundra Esports. Born in 1998, he is one of 12 siblings.

Topias began playing DotA when he was eight years old, after being introduced to the game by his brothers. In 2017, at age 19, his career as an esports player began, and Topias represented his country at the 2017 World Electronic Sports Games.

Although he studied to become a chef, Topias made the choice of devoting his time to video games instead. He won the Rookie of the Year award at theScore esports Awards in 2018 and had the highest average kills per game at the 2019 TI tournament.

4. Ceb (Sébastien Debs)


Current team: OG Esports

Nationality: French

Earnings to date: $5,900,842.73

Born in 1992, Sébastien Debs is a professional DotA 2 player for OG. Prior to joining OG, he played for various teams, including Mortal Teamwork, Sigma and Alliance. Besides playing, he also acted as a coach to the OG team between 2016 and 2018.

Formerly known as 7ckngMad, Ceb became the first two-time TI winner after winning the 2018 and 2019 tournaments with his teammates Ana, N0tail and JerAx. He also holds the record for the longest gap between TI appearances: after The International 2012, he missed five games prior to participating again in the 2018 games.

3. ana (Anathan Pham)

Anathan PhamYahoo News Australia

Current team: T1

Nationality: Australian

Earnings to date: $6,024,411.96

Melbourne-born Anathan Pham began playing DotA 2 at a young age, dedicating so much time to the game (frequently over 10 hours a day) that his performance at school began to suffer.

Eventually, in 2016, 16-year-old Anathan left high school and moved to Shanghai after being offered a position in Invictus Gaming’s in-house league. After The International 2016, he joined OG.

Anathan took a break from professional DotA 2 in 2018 but returned to OG in 2019, winning the TI tournament of that same year. Another hiatus followed the victory, and then came another period of competitive playing before Anathan announced his retirement in 2021. However, in 2022, he returned to the pro scene.

2. JerAx (Jesse Vainikka)

Jesse VainikkaYahoo News Singapore

Current team: N/A

Nationality: Finnish

Earnings to date: $6,486,623.98

Jesse Vainikka was born in 1992 and is a two-time TI champion with OG. He started getting noticed as a Heroes of Newerth player before switching to playing DotA 2 in 2013.

Jesse played for multiple teams over his career, including Team Liquid and OG, and has also coached Team Liquid prior to his retirement from professional DotA 2. The reason for his retirement, according to him, is that he stopped feeling the same passion for the game.

1. N0tail (Johan Sundstein)

Johan SundsteinLiquipedia

Current team: OG Esports

Nationality: Danish–Faroese

Earnings to date: $7,184,163.05

With a net worth of more than $7 million, Johan Sundstein is the highest earner out of all esports players worldwide. Born in 1993, the professional DotA 2 player has won the 2018 and 2019 TI tournaments as well as four Major championships.

First becoming introduced to video games as a toddler, Johan left high school early to devote himself to his esports career. Before he began playing DotA 2, he was one of the youngest Heroes of Newerth players to play competitively.

Johan has played for Fnatic, Team Secret, Cloud9 and OG. He holds the record for most deaths in a single TI game. At the age of 25, he was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 category.

Final thoughts

Though other games, like the battle royale title Fortnite and MOBA game League of Legends, can earn professional gamers a lot of money, DotA 2 is largely the highest-paying game out there. According to Statista, the annual DotA 2 global tournaments prize pool for 2023 exceeded $30 million… Which was $17 million less than the cumulative prize money given out in 2021, which fell just under $48 million.

So, if you dream of sponsorship deals, fame or just an opportunity to sit at your PC and earn a living through video games, never having to worry about going to college or working the standard 9 to 5, you better select your DotA hero and start practicing!

In the meantime, join the conversation below!

Originally published on October 2, 2018.