Top 7 Esports Pro Gamers who earned Millions

It is obvious, the gaming industry is on the rise. Pro gamers are the new stars in the world of competition and the tournament’s prizes are increasing at a rate never seen before. Check out our article about the Biggest Prize Pools in eSports.

In this first article about Esports earnings, I decided to create a quick list of the 10 high school players who won the biggest prizes before even turning 18 years old. The amounts are in US dollars of course.

Interestingly, the main source of revenue for these players is Dota 2. This is the most lucrative game in pro gaming, with major tournaments worth more than $20 million.

#1 Syed Summail “Sumail” Hassan

  • Earnings: $2,401,531.54 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 15
  • Game: Dota 2
  • Country: Pakistan

Youngest cyber-athlete winning more than $1 million in competitions: Syed Summail “Sumail” Hassan (only 16 years old when he won the grand prize). This is one of the stories we like at Gamercraft. Sumail Hassan was still unknown to the public at the beginning of 2015 and found himself propelled to the highest level in the world in a few months by winning the International 2015.

Inspired by a family member, Sumail Hassan has been playing Dota for the past 8 years. In Pakistan, he played mainly in cybercafés. When he turned 15, his family and he moved to the United States. A year later, he was hired by a famous professional gaming team, the Evil Geniuses. The team was doing alright in the first championship. This is only with the Asian championship that EG started to shine. They won the esports championship. They then joined DOTA MLG Pro League.

In early August, Sumail and his team won the Dota 2 Championship “The International” with more than $18 million. Sumail won over $1,3 million. The Guinness World Records honored him for being the youngest pro gamer to succeed at such an incredible level.

#2 Anathan “ana” Pham

  • Earnings: $604,739.58 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 16
  • Game: Dota 2
  • Country: Australia

Pham was snatched out of the dark to join OG in mid-2016. In 2015, he moved to Shanghai, China, when he was just 16 years old. He was later taken over by OG to replace Jordanian superstar Amer ‘Miracle-‘ Al-Barkawi. He is also a Dota 2 player.

At this point, Pham had won $605,239 just through the tournament money. When turning 18 and with OG (his team), the Melbourne player Anathan ‘ana’ Pham won the biggest prize in professional gaming history with nearly $11.2 million at the Dota 2 tournament, The International.

With Pham, the team won two of the majors of the following season – in Boston and Kiev – before disappointing with a 7th-8th place at the 2017 edition of The International, Dota’s biggest annual event. He then decided to take a break from the professional scene.

#3 Du “Monet” Peng

  • Earnings: $556,080.91 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 16
  • Game: Dota 2
  • Country: China

Du “Monet” Peng is the third on our list and another famous Dota player. He has been the foundation of the LGD.PSG team and recently joined RNG. He received over $518,446.20 from the International 2017 tournament. He got the third place.

However, after this important moment of his career, his prizes did not increase and few victories happened in the past few years. He was part of a legal battle between him and his former team LGD when he tried to breach a contract with the team in order to transfer.

#4 Ludwig ”Zai” Wåhlberg

  • Earnings: $465,323.32 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 16
  • Game: Dota 2
  • Country: Sweden

Ludwig ”Zai” Wåhlberg is the only European player in our ranking. Similar to the players above, he was also part of Evil Geniuses. He started playing Dota 1 then Heroes of Newerth and got his first win in a major tournament with over $30k.

After spending some time with OpTic Gaming, he is today playing with Team Secret. Over the years, he has been at the top of many championships from The International to The Chongqing Major 2019.

#5 Lee “Life” Seung-hyun

  • Earnings: $354,671.79 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 14
  • Game: Starcraft II
  • Country: South Korea

Lee Seung-Hyun got famous at a very early stage of his Starcraft 2 adventure. He is the third-youngest player ever to have been competing in a pro gaming public competition. The star was born. He made a name for himself with the Iron Squid Chapter 1 and the IPL Tournament of Champions.

He won his first international title by defeating the 2012 MLG Fall Championship in Dallas. Other victories followed, including the GSL Blizzard Cup 2012 and the Intel Extreme Masters Season VIII in New York.

In late 2014, he defeated Terran player Mun “MMA” Seong-won 4-1 in the finals of the World Championship Series Finals on Blizzcon, earning the $ 100,000 grand prize. A few weeks later, he finished second at the DreamHack Winter 2014.

However, the end of his career was marked by an important match fixing-scandal in Korea in 2015. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

#6 Lee “Flash” Young-ho

  • Earnings: $269,972.27 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 15
  • Game: Starcraft II
  • Country: South Korea

Lee “Flash” Young-ho made his debut in 2007 at the age of 14 in the Proleague with his team KTF MagicNs. Also in the group stage of the two major OnGameNet StarLeague and MBCGame StarCraft League tournaments, he qualified for the first time in 2007 for the OSL semifinals.

The following year, Flash became the youngest OSL winner at the age of 15. After a very brief dip in 2008, Flash has been able to perfect many of its strategies. In 2009 and 2010, he continues being one of the best players.

In 2010, Lee Young-ho was also the first player to qualify for six finals MSL and OSL. By winning the OSL Season 2 finale of Korean Air in Shanghai, he became the first player since NaDa to simultaneously hold OSL and MSL titles

In August 2014, he won his first title in StarCraft 2 with the ESL Intel Extreme Masters in Toronto, beating his teammate and former GSL Zest 4-1 winner in the final.

#7 Sang Hyeok “Faker” Lee

  • Earnings: $255,575.35 before turning 18
  • Age when winning first prize: 17
  • Game: Starcraft II
  • Country: South Korea

From his first professional year, in 2013, he laid the foundations of what became a dynasty with his team, SK Telecom. He was the first mechanically dominant player, he revolutionized the game at that level. SKT has built an identity and style through “Faker”. The vision of the game, control of characters, reflexes…

The young South Korean trains more than ten hours a day and dominates all the maps of a game that takes a lot of time to master. You also need talent. Without it, it is very hard to become an esports pro gamer.

“Faker” remains the best player on the planet and in 2015 winning the titles in South Korea, then the world championships. He won a second supreme championship, then a third a few months ago. Nothing stopped him.

This is the end of our list! If you are looking to learn more about pro-gamers stories, we invite you to continue reading our content on Gamercraft!



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