Streamer or pro gamer make more money?

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Live streaming and esports are two of the most watched things online, and 2018 has been another successful year for both.

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However, balancing the two at the same time is another story. On April 18, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek officially ended his career as a professional CS:GO player. After four years with the best gamers in North America at Cloud9, Shroud has decided to focus his energies on his live streaming career. The 24-year-old was already one of the most popular FPS gamers on Twitch at the time, but due to participating in so many international events with Cloud9, streaming became a secondary option to a competitive career, for Although competition does not bring as many benefits as streaming.

So how much exactly do streamers earn? And whose interests are better when it comes to earnings?

In many cases, professional gamers stream for fans on platforms like YouTube Gaming and Twitch, but that’s not a priority compared to their competitive careers. Esports is certainly a very lucrative industry. But in contrast to the most successful professional gamers, famous streamers are dominating the income segment.

While esports is only slowly becoming a billion-dollar industry, live streaming sites like Twitch are already some of the most valuable new tech companies out there. In fact, Amazon spent $970 million to buy Twitch in 2014, a figure still higher than the entire esports industry.

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Total value of the Esports industry in 2016

With the explosion of streaming platforms, streamers can be considered to have a definite starting point than professional gamers in terms of earning income. Although Twitch is closely connected with the growth of esports, streamers who didn’t compete professionally from the start have made more money. This is partly because streamers have diverse sources of income, from private sponsorships to subscriptions, in addition to contributions from viewers.

Professional gamers can also forge a hugely successful streaming career. However, balancing both jobs at the same time is extremely difficult, because the amount of time gamers spend competing is the time they neglect to stream. Viewers value streamers who are regularly active, bringing in fresh content, and only true esports stars can keep viewership high despite being inactive.

The growth of the esports industry is about to hit the $1 billion mark, and is a destination for many investors. This has contributed to providing players with higher salaries and benefits like gaming house and health insurance. Minimum wage regulations are in place in tournaments like the League of Legends Championship and Overwatch League, with more and more events being held. Players now have more opportunities to monetize both tournaments and individual sponsorship deals.

But now which career is bringing more income?

Top streamers still earn more than the most famous esports players

Streamers on Twitch and Youtube have been hugely popular for about two to three years now. With the continuous growth of the gaming industry, more and more people are looking for game-related content. In addition, the most famous streamers were able to make a significant profit during this period. Just for you to see, donation service StreamLabs processed over $100 million on Twitch in 2017 alone.

Streamers on Twitch typically get the majority of their income from brand sponsors, subscribers, and fan donations, which makes it difficult to pin down specific numbers. A basic subscription for a streamer on Twitch costs $4.99/month, and offers viewers benefits like unlocking unique emotes, receiving streamer updates, and more. Streamers usually get 50% of the total subscription, but popular streamers can get more depending on their partnership agreement.

Initially, to attract subscribers, streamers need to be associated with Twitch. This is to make sure they have some of the basic standards that Twitch requires.

Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins was the first streamer on the platform to hit 200,000 signups on March 20. At this point, Blevins claims to earn around $500,000/month. Add donations and personal sponsorships to that, and suddenly the number becomes a lot higher.

Ninja’s road to success

Live streamers on YouTube can also run ads and receive donations while they stream, but get paid based on how many people view their channel’s content. The social network Facebook also recently launched a game streaming service, also giving viewers the option to subscribe to the streamers they like.

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Earnings of League of Legends streamers on Twitch in 2014

Two years ago, one of the top streamers of League of Legends, Michael “IMAQTPIE” Santana, told Dot Esports that he makes $2 million a year. Most of his income comes from subscriptions, donations and personal sponsorships. But with Twitch ranking as one of the fastest growing websites in the US, and given the popularity of IMAQTPIE, that number should have been higher.

Other streamers certainly don’t make as much as Ninja or IMAQTPIE – but even less well-known streamers can make a decent amount of money out of this career. The key, however, is that there are more streams of revenue than just live streams.

Franchised esports players are increasingly benefiting

Now, the $30,000 salary that IMAQTPIE received as a professional player in 2014 is just a small number compared to the income while playing in the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) at the moment. Thanks to massive investments from non-endemic investors and sponsors, the average salary in franchised esports events has surged for top players.

The OpTic Gaming team’s tournament manager, Romain Bigeard, told the Liquid Legends news site that the average salary in the NA LCS has surpassed $320,000 per year, three times what the NA player earns. earned in 2016. Before tournaments were franchised and there were investments from non-endemic brands, the average salary was around $105,000 for North American gamers and $80,000 for European gamers – That means that number has grown by more than 100% in less than a year.

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The 25 highest earning professional gamers.

Similarly, Blizzard’s Overwatch League offers a base salary of at least $50,000 as well as healthcare for its players. However, some still earn more than this figure depending on their contract.

However, these growths are only recent. In the past, players had almost no say in salary negotiations. This mainly stems from the lack of a holistic view of the Western esports scene as both tournaments and competing teams can easily disappear overnight.

A prime example is Counter-Strike legend Emil “HeatoN” Cristen. Despite ending his esports career in 2008, he remains a well-known name in the CS community. In her 2017 autobiography, HeatoN – Med Livet på Spel (HeatoN – Gambling With Your Life), the 34-year-old star recounts how many times her image was used by organizations without permission and the amount of money he earns is either cut off or blatantly robbed. He describes contracts as just sheets of paper with some words on them, nothing more, nothing less.

Now there are many law firms that specialize in providing legal representation for players to ensure that they are paid commensurate with their work. Additionally, teams in CS:GO, Overwatch, and League of Legends are trying to build independent unions to establish guidelines and rights for their players.

Non-franchised esports players also get big payouts

Is Esports Healthy Outside of Overwatch and LCS Tournaments? To some extent the answer is yes. While the above two tournaments are franchised and held in fixed locations (at least this year), other games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2 and StarCraft 2 focus mainly on the games. third party events. Therefore, the prize money depends on how much gamers earn in these games, and therefore they have to participate in several different tournaments. Excluding salary, players can easily earn $200,000 in a competitive year just from the bonus.

This is an already thriving area of ​​esports. The number of bonuses awarded hit the $112 million mark in 2017 – a significant increase from the $22 million in 2013.

But if bonuses are included, players in non-franchise esports are earning a lot more than they were a few years ago.

One of the factors that increase the bounty level is that crowdfunding has become one of the core features of the Dota 2 world championship, The International. Since 2013, Dota 2 developer, Valve, has started selling in-game items called “the Compendium” to users. A total of 25% of the sales from this item go to The International’s prize pool, increasing the amount of event winnings each year, with The International 7 having the largest prize pool to date at $24 million.

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25 tournaments with the highest total prize money in Esports

The strongest teams in these leagues can receive huge salaries. Dota 2 is a particularly interesting case as it has the richest players in terms of winnings, but also some of the poorest players. The main reason is due to the capital raising aspect of The International. The prize money was not evenly distributed among the 16 participating teams until TI5. At TI4, the difference between the 8th and 9th place teams was about $500,000 – and it wasn’t until TI5 that the last team split the prize money.

Today, The International offers a bonus to any team that makes it to the playoffs. And with the many million dollar events in the Dota 2 Professional Circuit, even lesser-known teams have the opportunity to make a decent amount of money.


The most successful pro players and streamers are in a high position when it comes to earnings and reputation. They’re at the cusp of what’s going to be a billion-dollar industry, and both have proven themselves to be sustainable careers.

However, gamers like Ninja have clearly shown people where the area brings more income. Earn a total of $500,000/month just from subscriptions, which is about $6 million per year. That’s almost three times what Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok, the most successful League of Legends player in history, earns.

With a growing audience, streamers bring in more income than even the most famous professional players. But with such a large viewership, competition is fierce, and attention is scarce. Not everyone can do it like Ninja.

Both options still cannot guarantee a money making machine. But for the top streamers, their salaries are definitely much higher than that of the most famous players.

According to Dot Esports

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