Play Hard, Make History

The esports millionaires club is an exclusive bunch. Very few players have crossed the threshold. In fact a total of 68 players have made the club to date. One game has contributed 89% of millionaire club entrants. Or maybe you can attribute this to one event.

Valve's The International has created 61 millionaires in esports. We say 'Valve', but in reality the community created them, Valve just enabled it to happen. Now, we say "richest" players, but this is based entirely on prize earnings - we do not take into account salary, endorsements, or any other form of supplementary income.

Allow me to introduce you to the Top 10...

[M] Xtrfy M3 [K] Xtrfy XG1-R LED [H] Xtrfy H2 [Mp] Xtrfy XGP1-L4

ppd has one of the most interesting professional careers of any gamer. Coming from Heroes of Newerth like many others, ppd was able to make a very successful transition and win his first TI in 2015. He is also one of the only players to also be the CEO of one of the most successful esports organizations in the entire world - Evil Geniuses.

After his relative time off being CEO of EG for a year, ppd returned to competitive play as a professional player. Despite the time off ppd's performance hasn't suffered much as he performed well throughout 2018, and has started off fairly strong in 2019.

ppd's biggest prize

[M] SteelSeries Sensei [K] SteelSeries 6Gv2 [H] SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism [Mp] SteelSeries DeX

Being part of the winning team at The International is one thing, but being credited with the winning play is something most professional gamers can only dream of. UNiVeRsE on the other hand pulled off the most memorable Echo Slam's in Dota 2 history, winning EG their first (and only) ever TI title.

Sadly, UNiVeRsE has been on somewhat of a decline since then, so hopefully 2019 will be the year he turns it around and gets back on top.

Biggest play. Biggest game. Biggest year.

[M] SteelSeries Sensei [K] SteelSeries 6Gv2 [H] SteelSeries 5Hv3 [Mp] SteelSeries QcK mass

GH has had somewhat of a short and meteoric career as he came onto the scene in 2015 and barely made a dent. 2016 was marginally better, and then in 2017 the stars aligned and he and his teammates in Team Liquid ran away with TI7.

Since joining Team Liquid the team has done fairly well, taking 4th place at the following TI and multiple 1st place finishes at other major events.

The biggest game of his life

[M]SteelSeries Sensei [K]SteelSeries 6Gv2 [H]SteelSeries Siberia Elite Prism [Mp] SteelSeries DeX

Making it into the millionaires club in esports is already an extremely difficult task, but SumaiL also has the honour of being the youngest esports millionaire. In 2015, at the age of 16 SumaiL arguably began his professional career as he joined EG. In the same year he won TI5. Talk about peaking early.

But SumaiL hasn't peaked. The following 3 years after his remarkable debut as a professional gamer, SumaiL followed up with 2 +$500,000 years, a feat most pro-gamers have not managed even in their career earnings, let alone in a single year. To put that into perspective, players like ArtStyle (Dota 2), Grubby (Wc3/Sc2), and Fatal1ty (Quake/PK/Doom) don't even have career earnings of $500,000 yet.


[M]Razer Deathadder Chroma [K]Razer Blackwidow Chroma [H]HyperX Cloud II [Mp] Razer Goliathus Speed

If you were going to pick a TI winner in 2018 it likely wasn't going to be OG. Having placed lower than top 8 in most of their major competitions throughout the year, OG was left to make it to TI via qualifiers. However, despite seemingly long odds and little expectation, the team became the cinderella story.

JerAx himself earned Most Valuable Support Player at TI8, which was the icing on the cake of an already monumental tournament. You can watch some of his best plays below.

Best year. Best support.

[M]Razer Deathadder Chroma [K]Razer Blackwidow Chroma [H]HyperX Cloud II [Mp] Razer Goliathus Speed

A man of few words, MATUMBAMAN stays humble - or perhaps just lost - after victory in 2017. MATUMBAMAN has been a Team Liquid staple since 2015, being one of the few players to stay with a team for such a long duration in a game infamous for its "TI Shuffle" after the annual event.

After the team's performance in 2016, they weren't going into 2017 with a lot of expectations from the community. But, they proved that they really did have the winning formula, and dominated the entire year before culminating in their TI7 victory.


[M]Razer Naga Hex V2 [K]Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 [H]HyperX Cloud II

Another long-term Team Liquid player with a relatively short career, MinD_ContRoL has been a staple for Team Liquid. The beginning of his career was not so smooth as he was part of 5 teams in the span of 1.5 years before eventually being picked up by Team Liquid. Chaos to serenity.

Just before the finals at TI7, MinD_ContRoL expressed his confidence in himself and his teammates about the upcoming matches. It seems he was right as Team Liquid walked away with the victory.

Foreshadowing the biggest tournament of his life.

[M]SteelSeries Sensei [K]SteelSeries Apex M800 [H]SteelSeries Siberia V2 [Mp]SteelSeries QcK+

Rank #1 in MMR means something to Miracle- as it was his gateway into professional player thanks to an invitation from N0tail. However, after playing with N0tail for two years, he would eventually depart in a TI Shuffle as OG failed miserably to perform, despite high expectations.

Miracle- moved on to Team Liquid and won The International the following year. Talk about vindication. Since then he hasn't looked back.

The best Invoker ever?

[M]Deathadder Chroma [H]HyperX Cloud II

After a near perfect Heroes of Newerth career, is it any wonder N0tail became one of the best players to ever touch Dota 2? Oddly enough, N0tail's Liquipedia page doesn't list Meepo as one of his most notable heroes. So we included a little video to celebrate the fun and excitement BigDaddy has brought us over the years with his Meepo.

I suppose it isn't really surprising N0tail is such a joy to watch as Meepo. It suits his personality. One of the more outgoing personalities in Dota 2, N0tail is also a consummate professional and one of the few players Ive had the actual pleasure of working with. During NASL finals, despite losing, N0tail still completed interviews as promised - with a smile. Un-fun fact, that was the only major tournament N0tail lost in HoN, and it was the only tournament where I was acting as their stand-in manager...ggnore


[M]Deathadder Chroma[K]Blackwidow Chroma V2[H]HyperX Cloud II[Mp] Razer Goliathus Speed

From $123 in his first notable year competing, to $2.4 Million in 2017 alone. What a journey it has been. KuroKy is a true Dota purist. He has never competed professionally in another game. He's also one of the very few to have been a professional in the original Dota on Blizzard's Warcraft III engine and make a smooth transition to the top of Dota 2. To the very top.

I won't bore you with any other career highlights or details as theScore has made a comprehensive video on the richest player in esports history's career.

Don't forget his motto.

Without The International turning to crowd-sourcing a large portion of its prize pool, it is difficult to say if Dota 2 would have created any millionaires to date. Likely not. Funny enough, without The International, Dota 2 would still be in the lead for prize money in esports.

One tournament carries so much weight in esports. Not just in the form of financial gain for the players lucky/skilled enough to win, but also for the industry as a whole as it makes waves in the mainstream media each and every year. It is likely that after this year's tournament, the list of Top 10 Richest Players will change again - some pulling further ahead, and some being replaced. It is the only time of year we can expect the list to change any significant amount.

That said, Astralis' CS:GO team isn't too far behind, another year of stellar performances and they might just be able to break into the Top 10. For now though, Dota 2 reigns supreme. Long live the King.

Player Photograph Credits:,,,,,, and Valve