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The esports industry is becoming increasingly popular, with the biggest fixtures regularly drawing audiences in the millions. Prize money for tournaments can be substantial, but securing a reliable income from such sources is an unrealistic prospect for many. Even the most successful esports players subsidize tournament prizes with other revenue streams, with paid sponsorship and streaming activity providing esports careers with more of a conventional salary model.

How to Make Money as an Esports Player

The most obvious revenue stream for esports players looking to pocket sizeable sums of money is pursuing big ticket prize funds. Tournaments yield the biggest prizes, although you will need to be at the top of your game to out compete rival players. However, if your skills are sharp enough, you can pocket a fortune from just a single tournament. The International, an annual esports event for the enduringly popular DOTA 2, offered a prize pool of more than 34 million US dollars in 2019 alone. Securing a regular income from tournament prizes is tricky, even for the best players. Unless you luck out with a huge one-time win, you will need to be playing in tournaments regularly and securing consistent wins and high-placed rankings.

Most professional esports players subsidize their tournament winnings by streaming. With streaming services like Twitch, esports players can monetize their activities in different ways. If you have amassed a considerable following, you can invite your fans to donate money to your channel. However, you will need to provide incentives to encourage donations. These incentives can be as simple as giving a shout out to contributors during a stream. However, you should aim to be more generous when giving back to your fans. Think about producing exclusive content for those who have donated, or consider things like prize draws.

Another way to bring in more income when streaming is to secure a few sponsors. Many companies will pay you to promote their products during your streams, either by you actively calling out their products during play, or allowing tailored ads to run over your stream. Potential sponsors may also provide you with discount codes and links to add to your channel, encouraging click-through activity. If a viewer clicks one of these links and ends up making a purchase or paying for a service, you can expect a percentage of the overall amount. This works similarly to affiliate marketing.

Average Earnings of Esports Professionals

The pay grade of a professional esports player can vary wildly. Those who are part of an esports team generally take home the best incomes. In the US, the average monthly income for an esports team member is around four thousand dollars. However, more popular teams with a bigger audience draw can expect to land larger revenues. For esports professionals exclusively playing in tournaments, average annual incomes are fairly small. Most esports players can expect to earn around eight thousand dollars per tournament, although they can subsidize the amount with streaming. However, teams playing in tournaments tend to have more success when it comes to securing substantial rewards. If you are serious about making a good living from esports, you should aim to combine all potential revenue streams. Committed esports professionals who are combining streaming activity with tournament play and paid sponsorship can usually take home more than 70,000 dollars annually.

Which Esports Players Earn the Most?

There are thousands of esports professionals active in the industry today, with many of them having amassed considerable fortunes. Preston Arsement, better known as Preston, became well-known for his Minecraft streaming videos on YouTube. By combining revenue from sponsored ads and custom content, Preston has built a fortune of more than 14 million dollars. Another big name in the esports arena is Felix Kjellberg, otherwise known as PewDiePie. This is another esports professional who capitalized on the YouTube platform in the early days, with his subscriber base exceeding more than 100 million individual users.

When it comes to professional esports players, few have enjoyed as much success as Tyler Blevins, who is perhaps better known by his Ninja handle. With paid sponsorships from the likes of sportswear giant Adidas and Red Bull, Ninja has quickly established himself as one of the top earners in the field. Ninja started out by streaming his Fortnite game-play on Twitch, but later inked a deal to stream exclusively over Microsoft’s Mixer platform. Although Mixer was later ditched in favour of Facebook Gaming, Ninja managed to pocket more than 30 million dollars from the arrangement.

Kick Starting Esports Earnings

If esports is the industry for you, you need to be realistic about earning potential. There’s more to earning than simply playing your favourite video games, so you need to be prepared to put in the effort and diversify your revenue streams. You will need to stay consistently engaged with the industry itself, with platforms like 1337PRO serving as an invaluable resource for results, news and live streaming. You also need to think beyond tournament play and uncertain prize pools. If your gaming skills are of a high enough standard, joining a team offers more financial security than going it alone. Subsidizing your earnings with streaming activity and sponsorship is also essential.