How Much Do Professional Gamers Get Paid? (Cheat-Sheet)

Societal logic dictates that every child go to school, get good grades, and get a well-paying, secure job with benefits till retirement. 

Teens have broken this norm by starting their “professional” careers in the competitive gaming industry. Some have esports salaries exceeding the paychecks of highly educated professionals in the corporate world.  

How do they become iconic millionaires at such an early age? Which games reward them with such skyrocketing cash prizes? Read on to dig deep into this mystery.  

How much do professional gamers get paid? 

According to, the salary of an average professional gamer in the United States is $64,168.

Top gamers can earn up to $187,200 in salary alone.

The statistics further state that the average salary range for US esports players is between $19,910 and 187,200, with a median salary of $44,680.

How do professional gamers make money in esports tournaments?

Prize money pools

Prize money pools are cash prizes paid out to pro gamers after winning a tournament. In the United States, esports tournaments attract premium brands and companies that fund the games and offer mega sponsorships. 

Internationally, the gaming community collects millions of tournament prize money awarded to winning teams (usually 5 or 6 team players). The players then distribute the cash prize among themselves. 

The best esports team with the highest prize pool earning is Team Liquid. Its cumulative prize pool money is worth $37,328,890. Their esports history is exceptional as they’ve played over 1968 tournaments participating in legendary games like Dota 2, League of Legends, CS: GO, and StarCraft II.

By the end of 2021, DOTA 2 topped the tournament prize pool chart with a cumulative prize money pool of $48 million. 

This year, the competitions are stiff, and the current prize pool statistics are as below:

No.GameEsports Earnings
1Arena of Valor$17,145,613.29
3League of Legends$12,043,868.22
4Dota 2$11,806,565.02
5Counter-Strike: Global Offensive$9,221,228.84

2022 Esports Earnings


Live Streaming gamers earn through paid subscriptions, bits, donations, ads, sponsorships, and merchandise. The more the viewers, the bigger their earnings. 

Most top gamers streaming on Twitch have millions of followers contributing to their revenue. Top streamers earn as much as $5,000 per month and live off a lavish lifestyle from such earnings. 

The richest Twitch streamer (PewDiePie aka Felix Arvid Ulf) has an estimated $40 million in streaming revenue. He has more than 100 million followers on the platform. 


Some companies and well-known brands tap into competitive gaming talent, taking advantage of their exploding online audience. They offer sponsorships and sign deals with professional gamers in exchange for marketing promotions for their products.

Many professional gamers have earned millions from deals with elite companies like Twitch, Honda, and Monster Energy.   


Professional gamers also earn special bonuses after winning a tournament. These come through the companies that own digital channels streaming the tournaments.

Some companies pay handsomely for every mileage of media coverage they get through live esports sessions. Most gamers make an average of $20,000 in cash from these bonuses. 

Regular paychecks

With the rising star potential in the gaming industry, major companies have also stepped in to offer regular salaries to professional players.

Most companies require that players have an established social media presence and a trailing history of victories to win this offer. 

Some players earn between $1,000 to $5,000, while experienced gamers earn up to $15,000 per month.

Other professional gamers act as brand ambassadors for elite companies and get stipends for being representatives. Bonus pay also comes through sponsorships when their products are promoted through them. 


Esports professionals also use the massive fan following to build brand names and sell merchandise. 

Some start their clothing lines, shoe lines, and tech merch like mouse pads and then sell to their fans.

5 Alternative lucrative careers in the esports industry

progamer esports tournament

Not everyone gets a chance to participate in a live game tournament. Professional players also shift gears and find their passions in careers surrounding the esports industry.

Suppose you’re dying to join this industry but cannot find a way into the gaming podium. In that case, the following are careers you can consider pursuing:  


Nothing brings a game to life than the voice behind the cameras. The tension, the build-up, the near-misses, and the wins are all eloquently narrated by the commentator to the audience. 

You can make a living by commentating on games and giving live updates during tournaments. 

Broadcasting can be the perfect job if you have a clear voice and a deep passion for esports. Broadcasters earn anything from $700 to $1000 per game. 


Agents are a great asset in several industries, especially the entertainment and sports industry.  In athletics, for example, agents help professional athletes manage administrative tasks like legal matters, contract management, booking appointments, and connections with established brands to get sponsorships.

Though still in its infancy stages, esports gaming has an increasing demand for agents. Esports athletes hire agents to get deals, organize gaming events, and market their talent. 

If you have excellent negotiation skills, marketing, and connections to big brands that can build a professional gamer’s career, then being an agent is a great start. 

Social media manager

Social media management is an ever-high-demand skill in professional gaming. Social media is a gold mine for every pro gamer as it’s the perfect place to build an audience. 

Social media managers help professional esports players manage their social media accounts. They also interact with fans and stream live tournaments through social media platforms like Twitch. 

By interacting with their fans, they establish evergreen relationships that greatly create revenue streams for professional gamers. Some roles social media managers undertake include:

  • Content creation
  • Strategizing on how to gain followers
  • Reviewing analytics data
  • Communication with key stakeholders within the esports organizations

You can learn this skill by taking a free or paid course online and then pitch your services to any professional gaming organization. 

Social media managers in the United States make an average of $78,000 annually in the gaming industry.  

Esports coach

This option is great for experienced gamers considering diversifying their career or retiring.   

Many upcoming gamers need mentors to guide them and help them grow into professional players in the competitive esports industry. 

Esports coaches encourage young players aspiring to pursue competitive gaming as a full-time career. 

They also step in as unifying factors among competitors in tournaments. Tournaments can escalate tension among players, creating ugly friction and fights among themselves. In short, they help players maintain good relationships inside and outside the tournaments. 

Being a coach attracts consistent pay as you set your service rates. And younger esports players always look for a coach to help them be professionals. 

The average salaries of esports coaches range between $62,000 and $100,000 a month, excluding bonuses and sponsorships from big brand names. 

Event manager

If you have a knack for planning and organizing events, then event planning is a great career. 

Event managers are a critical backbone in esports gaming. They are the driving force behind successful tournament events. They plan esport events, make invitations, organize marketing campaigns, structure the esports players in the tournaments, and coordinate handing over prize money to winning teams.  

Event managers in the gaming industry earn up to $40,000 a year.

7 Important skills you should have to become a highly paid professional gamer

Becoming a highly paid professional gamer is not as easy as playing candy crush a hundred times. It takes work and even years of practice to reach the game’s top. The following are essential skills you need to have if you want to succeed in a professional gaming career.

  1. Determination

For you to make it among top competitors in esports, you must be determined. You must believe in yourself. You must have strong faith that you have what it takes to make it as a professional. 

You need to understand that failure is only part of the process of becoming a successful professional gamer. And your desire to succeed should be greater than the fear of failure. This desire forces doors of success open at the command of your eyes. 

It may take years to achieve your goal, but the secret is never to give up. If you pay attention to what pro gamers say during interviews, you’ll hear them mention how determination made them reach where they are today.  

  1. Self-confidence

Winning a game is about believing in yourself and doing all it takes to maintain your posture. 

It doesn’t matter how intimidating your competitors are. They may be experienced, but your confidence can outweigh their skill. 

Begin by mapping out your victory in the game. Visualize it. Enter the tournament having a clear vision of what you want to achieve and stick with it till the end of the game. 

You’ll be amazed at how your mind navigates you through the game and awards you win tournaments. 

Stay confident. Keep your head high. Banish all fear, and have unwavering faith that you’ll make it.  

  1. Mental fortitude

Maintaining focus during a game is a huge determining factor for victory. You must have a clear goal of what you want to achieve by the end of the game. 

You can only avoid the luring distraction of a massive live gaming crowd cheering their teams during tournaments. 

It may look like an easy skill, something to brush off as evident, but it requires constant practice. 

You can perfect this skill at home while playing video games with your friends and family. This will help you develop a solid mental fortitude in the long run. 

  1. Teamwork

Being a lone gamer may not take you far, but joining esports teams can skyrocket your pro gaming career. Many professional players team up during tournaments and compete against other teams. 

During off-gaming seasons, they practice against real people. They learn new ways of overcoming obstacles, working on their weaknesses, and perfecting their strengths. 

In most tournaments, gamers come together as a team of 5 to 6 people and then compete against other teams. If they win, they win together, if they lose, they lose together. 

  1. Dexterity

Dexterity is a superpower that differentiates pro gamers from enthusiastic players. It’s a physical skill involving hand-eye coordination that exemplifies the performance of an esports team.  

Pro gaming is all about clicking, typing, and moving the joystick while keeping your eye on the screen. It requires a lot of practice and a firm determination to master it. 

  1. Decision-making

Quickly deciding the best way of executing commands is a most-coveted skill in professional gaming. 

You’ll always be racing against time in a tournament. How fast you execute your winning strategy is key to maintaining your profile as an exceptional esports player. 

To build on quick decision-making skills, practice timed sessions while playing video games and track your progress.  

  1. Critical thinking 

Critical thinking is an essential skill every aspiring professional gamer needs. How you approach and solve a problem sets you apart from thousands of gaming enthusiasts.

Analyzing a game, considering different perspectives, and viewing the game from different angles, all in splits of seconds, will make you an exceptional pro gamer. You’ll build a massive fan following to accelerate your recognition in the esports industry.

Playing video games that engage the brain and activate your critical thinking skills is a great way of building this skill. 

The glamorous lives of top professional eSports players

Most top gamers make a decent living from their lucrative esports payouts and salaries. They enjoy all kinds of luxuries from flashy cars, Hollywood mansions, expensive clothing, gold and diamond jewelry, trips to the most coveted travel destinations, and five-star hotels. 

Some team members choose to live together in lavish beach mansions and apartments. Others buy homes in the lush high-end suburb neighborhoods. 

Gamers working for established esports organizations typically have all their expenses covered. Their housing, food, training, gaming-related travel expenses, and upkeep. This leaves them plenty of room to live the life of their dreams. Something that takes years for an employee in the corporate world to achieve. 

However, to sustain this lifestyle, most pro players diversify their income mainly through streaming on YouTube and Twitch and selling merch. The gaming industry is not a life-long career, and esports companies often lay off professional gamers. 

Top 5 high-paying professional eSports games

Truth be told. Not all games pay their esports teams millions. Each game pays its professional gamers differently. Factors such as how popular the game is and the accumulated tournament prize pools play a massive role in determining the competitors’ salaries. 

Below are approximate prize money pools sourced from eSports earnings that played games attract:

  1. Dota 2

Dota 2 remains an all-time high-paying game with a cumulative prize money pool of $47.79 million from tournament winnings in 2021. Winners of the final 2021 tournaments each bagged $3 million of profit from the game. 

Dota 2 now holds the esports title of the highest-paid game for ten straight years. It boasts the highest paid professionals like Johan “N0tail” Sundstein. He’s garnered a total of $7.2 million from esports earnings, nearly surpassing the highly competitive League of Legends’ cumulative prize money of $7.7 million.

  1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO)

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, commonly abbreviated as CS: GO also tops the esports prize pool charts as of 2021, it accumulated $21.89 million globally. 

The game has also maintained the runners-up position after DOTA 2 for several years in a row. As of May 2022, CS: GO ranks top among the most played games globally, with an average of 570,541 gamers competing in the tournaments. 

  1. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUGB) Mobile

The PUBG Mobile players have set the bar high in 2022, earning more than $12 million in the prize money pool. Its popularity has skyrocketed in the past few months attracting more than 1,000 players to the tournaments. 

The mobile version already has more than 42 million users, and the esports earnings keep growing. It now competes with top-notch lucrative games like Dota 2 and League of Legends. 

  1. Fortnite

Fortnite’s performance shot up in the past few years after Epic Games funded a $100 million prize money pool in the 2018 tournaments. Now it’s among the top 5 lucrative esports games, accumulating $19.96 million in 2021 worldwide tournaments. 

In 2019’s Fortnite World Cup, a lump sum of $30 million was awarded to its winners with Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, the grand winner, taking home $3 million after beating out 99 other competitors. The world’s richest professional gamer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, is a well-known exceptional Fortnite player. 

  1. Arena of Valor

Arena of Valor is a widely played game in East Asia, particularly in China and Taiwan. In 2021, it ranked 5th in the prize pool charts, with cumulative esports earnings worth $17.37 million.  

Round Up

The average salary of a professional gamer in the United States is $64,168. Top gamers earn up to $187,200. The average salary range for US esports players is between $19,910 and 187,200, with a median salary of $44,680.

Prize money pools are cash prizes paid to pro gamers after winning a tournament. In the United States, esports tournaments attract premium brands and companies that fund the games and offer mega sponsorships.

Internationally, the gaming community collects millions of tournament prize money awarded to winning teams (usually 5 or 6 team players). The players then distribute the cash prize among themselves.

The best esports team with the highest prize pool earning is Team Liquid.

FAQs about professional gamers’ salaries

Who is the highest-paid gamer?

Tyler Blevins (Ninja) is currently the highest-paid professional gamer, having garnered more than $40 million worth of gaming revenue. He’s a well-known Fortnite gamer and streams his games on Twitch and YouTube. 

He signed a deal with Mixer and now streams using the Microsoft streaming platform.  

How do pro gamers make money?

Professional gamers earn money by scooping tournament cash prizes, sponsorships, endorsements from companies that fund the games, and live-streaming revenues from social media channels like Twitch and YouTube. 

Many esports players also diversify their income by selling merchandise and working as ambassadors for established brands.

Do gamers make a lot of money?

Yes, gamers make a fortune from participating in tournaments and playing online video games. Their earnings range from $20 per hour to $200 per hour, which is decent pay.

Due to their massive audience, many companies approach them by offering hefty prize money pools in exchange for promotions and marketing campaigns for their products. 

How much do big gamers make in a month?

According to CyberAthletics, big earners make between $1,000 and $5,000 monthly and get an approximate annual income between $12,000 and $60,000. However, some top professional esports players earn millions yearly from major tournaments. 

How do you become a highly paid professional gamer 

Being a professional gamer requires intense training, practice, and determination to make it among top players. 

It’s not as easy as it looks since many gamers join the industry but few make it to the top 5%. You must stay focused, build your confidence and diligently pursue it if you want to pursue it as a full-time career.  

Moreover, to be recognized as a professional esports player, you must win at least one major tournament.   

How much does a gamer make on YouTube?

Professional gamers on streaming platforms like YouTube can earn up to $110,340 generated from ad revenues, paid subscriptions, commissions and sponsorships. 

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