Floyd “Money” Mayweather is today one of the best paid athletes in the world. Christiano Ronaldo is also on this list. However, a popular list of the best rated and paid “electronic” athletes does not really exist. Many people see electronic sports as a… joke. Something that will pass and be forgotten. Just as the father of Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, predicted in ’95 that the Internet would implode by ’96.
Not to draw a parallel between what was and what will be, but we believe that electronic sports are here to stay! There are far too many companies involved for this form of sport to “die” overnight and, more importantly, hundreds of millions of dollars revolve annually in the eSports industry. So we decided to name the top 5 most successful electronic athletes of all time, taking into account only the earnings from tournaments, not what they get from sponsorship and other deals. Thus, as follows, here are the Top 5 most highly paid people in eSports.
Ranked 5th is Oleksandr Dashkevych aka XBOCT(4) from Ukraine.
Winnings – $453,311
If in 2009 things were not so good for XBOCT(4), his clan, Planet-X performing more or less ok, choosing to break, only to have XBOCT(4) join Natus Vincere a few months later. Due to his poor performance in the past, although he had started out rated 4 stars out of 10, at the Alienware Cup tournament he wiped the floor with the Chinese team, winning the cup without too many issues.
After “The International” Dota 2 Championship, he’d shown his true colors, this championship being the place where he added the (4) to his name, in memory of the four stars he was rated in the past and to flip off critics. Unfortunately, the team only came in 2nd place, winning just a “humble” consolation prize of 600,000 dollars, which he shared with the team.
Ranked 4th is Danil Ishutin aka Dendi – also from Ukraine.
Winnings – $453,841
Dendi is still a team member of Natus Vincere and compared with XBOCT(4), he has a hair’s worth more money. With only “a few” extra dollars, Danil is considered by many one of the best players in the Dota 2 world and rightly so, being a very calculated player, though, in my humble opinion, he does like to jump into the fray a little more than is safe sometimes. Both he and his colleagues at Natus Vincere were presented in the Valve documentary film, Free to Play, and elevated to the rank of eSport superstar.
At a relatively young age, Dendi climbed the podium 26 times in just a few years, 15 of these climbs earning him a gold medal each. We won’t say he’s the backbone of the team, as that would not be true, Natus Vincere being a team in the true sense of the word.
Ranked 3rd is Jang Min Chul aka MC from South Korea.
Winnings – $453,926.
The South Korean StarCraft eSports scene is by far the highest rated and watched in the world, with the best gamers coming from this country. It isn’t surprising that the third place in this top 5 is occupied by a Korean, MC earning nearly half a million dollars as proof of his abilities as an eSports athlete.
MC is a veteran in the scene, and at the age of 24, he has been all over the world in tournaments, his career taking him to 79 competitions so far. MC is known for the mischief he does after every victory. At the MLG Pro Circuit in Providence he won a Murloc suit, which he wore while dancing like a madman across the stage. Sure, Stephano also had some less than sane habits, but fortunately, MC’s humorous side is much more developed.
In 2nd place, Johnathan Wendel aka Fatal1ty from the United States.
Winnings – $454,919
Wendel is today considered the father and promoter of eSports, one of the best electronic athletes and an exceptional businessman. Fatal1ty is a special breed of cyber athlete, attacking very wide range of games, without specializing in one game in particular as many do today. Wendel made a name for himself in Painkiller tournaments, but also participated in competitions of Quake, Call of Duty, Unreal Tournament, Doom 3, Alien Versus Predator, Counter Strike, demonstrating that he is a cyber-athlete all-rounder.
In a recent estimate, Fatal1ty has made about 5 million frags online in one year, rising to the rank of legendary cyber athlete. Although he is 33 years old, he not only participates in competitions, but is also a consummate entrepreneur, designing mice and headsets for various companies like Creative, and having deals for a series of ASRock motherboards. In 2010 Wendel was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the man with the most videogame kills in 60 minutes, and also added into the International Video Game Hall of Fame as one of the best players in the world. It is no wonder that today he’s one of the most famous athletes in the eSports world.
In 1st place, The Dong, aka Lee Jae Dong aka Jaedong – South Korea
Lee Jae has a lot of nicknames on the Starcraft scene, such as “The Tyrant” and “The Legend Killer”, “The King of second place” (after a year-long series of lucky – or unlucky – second place finishes in major tournaments) and at the moment Jaedong is considered the definitive cyber athlete, as well as the greatest heavyweight in Starcraft. And he, just like MC, is from South Korea, and also like MC, a Starcraft player.
For a bit of trivia, half of the Starcraft copies that exist currently on the market were sold in South Korea, and in 2005 the country’s StarCraft Championship attracted 120,000 spectators on site. Surprising isn’t it?
Jaedong is presently the highest paid player in StarCraft, winning the most money in competitions in comparison to other professional gamers in the world. He revolutionized the way people play StarCraft, holds several records, but above all is loved and respected among SC players worldwide.