Pursuing an eSports Career: Income, Salaries, and Contracts

The life of an athlete, while seemingly full of glamour and glory, is spent practicing and honing skills with the goal to win. For an eSports career player, hours upon hours are spent perfecting their focus, reaction time, and ability to play their game of choice to win the next tournament.

But, that’s not to say all those hours of playing and grinding through practice runs doesn’t pay off. An eSports career can be very profitable (and we mean very profitable) if you have the skills necessary to bring home a win for you and/or your team.

Pursuing an eSports Career: Income, Salaries, and Contracts

Seeing a prize pool of over $25.5 million for the International 2018 Dota 2 tournament is enough to make anyone rethink their current life choices and take up the sport. As tempting as it seems, winning prize pools that high isn’t the reality for all eSports careers. Many players diversify their means of making money by pursuing other sources of income within the industry. There’s also the aspect of contracts that provide more of a stable means of income for eSports career players.

If you’re still re-thinking your life decisions and contemplating switching to an eSports career path (we feel you), you’re probably wondering just how much eSports athletes actually make. Or maybe how an eSports contract works, or the different ways players earn an income besides competing in tournaments. Well, Gamercraft is here to answer all those questions and more!

What’s the Average eSports Career Salary?

To answer the question above plainly, the salary of a player in an eSports career is uncertain, and there’s no technical standard to base it on. While that sounds a bit unorthodox, the same can be said for a career in a field outside of this sport. Take a career in marketing, for example. The average income for a certain position in that field will likely be a certain number in one state and a completely different number when compared to another. In most cases, careers in typical fields like these are more regulated and are based relative to the cost of living in the specific city or state its based in. The same hasn’t always been true for eSports careers.

eSports players competing in tournaments individually are typically self-employed and have no guarantee of a salary. Some players may compete in smaller scale tournaments for shots at a prize, but will typically have to pursue other means of obtaining an income. Most turn to subscription-based streaming on platforms like Twitch in which they cultivate subscribers by generating regular entertaining content.

Pursuing an eSports Career: Income, Salaries, and Contracts

For many players, the ultimate goal of pursuing an eSports career is to get recruited into or form a team, compete in a major league, and win prize pools (to put it simply). Unfortunately, for many players, that reality isn’t so easily obtained as there can only be one first-place team. Luckily, that’s where contracts come in.

How eSports Career Contracts Work

It’s hard to deny the massive growth that the field of eSports has seen in recent years. Like any large money-generating entity, a fair bit of regulation is to make sure everyone gets their fair share. For those working an eSports career, contracts are that regulation. Just as people in marketing or business enter into an employment contract with the company they work for, eSports players do the same with their team or the company that owns their team.

These contracts outline essential information like:

  • Salary amount
  • Pay period
  • Time-off policies
  • Working hours

 In some cases, eSports career contracts will also outline things like:

  • Player sponsorship requirements
  • Company guidelines
  • The percentage of prize pool money that’s to go back to the team’s owner(s)

Typical salaries can range anywhere from $1,000 – $20,000/month, depending on the player’s skill level and value.

Apart from winning prize money, sponsorship revenue is a large part of an eSports player’s income. Companies aiming to advertise their products, whether they be industry-related or otherwise, will provide teams and players with free merchandise and financial compensation in exchange for an endorsement. Those endorsements can be paraphernalia on jerseys, use of the product in competition, or a spoken testimony. Teams and players in an eSports career are encouraged to cultivate sponsorships from well-established brands in order to gain publicity and generate additional income.

The Rabbit Hole of an eSports Player’s Pay

An eSports career may sound like a brilliant idea when looking at prize pools, but winning them requires a significant amount of time and dedication from competitors. For the typical eSports player, earning an income is done through several different outlets rather than just tournaments. In many cases, players aim to become salaried with their teams/organizations to have a stable income in addition to their tournament and sponsorship earnings.

Pursuing an eSports Career: Income, Salaries, and Contracts

At the end of the day, an eSports career is meant for those with a serious commitment to the sport and those willing to pursue possibly three to four different ways to generate an income. But, with the industry growing as quickly as it is, players will likely get a better sense of financial security with regular contractual employment going forward.


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