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Esports players to topple earnings of leading sports figures

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If you want to make a living from sport, esports could be the best way to go about it. New research shows that prize funds in the rapidly growing world of gaming now exceed many of the world’s most well-known championships.

According to the most recent data, the winning team at last year’s esports tournament The International Dota 2 took home a huge purse of more than $9m, with the League of Legends World Championship victors receiving in excess of $2m.

While the world of competitive esports still trails some way behind football’s UEFA Champions League – winners Real Madrid received €15.5m last year – many gamers are now matching the prizes received by some of the world’s most famous sportsmen.

An analysis of recent prize funds showed that those at the pinnacle of their sports, such as the winners of golf’s British Open, snooker’s World Championship and the Emirates FA Cup, all received pay checks less that those winning the major esports tournaments.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jo Konta and Henrik Stenson have become millionaires thanks to their success, and esports now has its own global superstars with five players from the Chinese Wings Gaming team raking in almost $2m each in prizes alone.

On a global level, the rest of the world lags behind the likes of China, the USA and Korea, whose players accumulated more than $47m between them in last year alone. The UK has a small pool of around 600 professional gamers – those who have made money from entering online and offline tournaments – who pocketed a total of $2m.

Mercè Delgado, CEO of Fluendo, who recently launched RiftAnalyst – a tool to help gamers improve their strategy and ability – commented: “Despite having the fourth most active professional gamers in the world, the UK is not achieving its full potential.

“As with all sports, staying on top of your game requires dedication and we’re seeing teams employ coaches and physiotherapists, even focusing on improving their diet, all to improve their game. Players who are serious about winning tournaments need to use every tool at their disposal to improve, regardless of which esport they are playing.

“Esports is now a lucrative profession and that is reflected in the increased amounts of prize money on offer. It’s only a matter of time before some of the world’s leading gamers start to feature among the wealthiest sportsmen in the world.”

Tournament Total prize fund Winner
Golf – British Open (men) £6,500,000  £1,175,000
Darts – PDC World Championship £1,650,000 £350,000
Football – FA Cup £15,132,000 £1,800,000
Football – Champions League €761,900,000 €15,500,000
Horse racing – Grand National £1,000,000 £561,300
Tennis – Wimbledon (men or women) £10,856,000 £2,000,00
Snooker – World Championship £1,750,00 £375,000
Cricket – T20 Blast £2,000,000 £1,200,000
Cycling – Tour de France £2,295,850 £500,000
Athletics – London Marathon £313,000 £55,000
Tournament Total prize fund ($) Winner ($)
Esports – The International 20,770,640 9,139,002
Esports – League of Legends World Championship 5,070,000 2,028,000
Esports – Halo World Championship 2,500,000 1,000,000


Top earners globally (2016)

Country Player id Name 2016 earnings
China  iceice Li Peng $1,923,666.92
China  bLink Zhou Yang $1,923,666.92
China  y` Zhang Yiping $1,923,666.92
China  Faith_bian Zhang Ruida $1,923,666.92
China  Shadow Chu Zeyu $1,923,666.92
Norway MiSeRy Rasmus Fillipsen $982,876.80
Romania  w33 Aliwi Omar $982,876.80
Ukraine  Resolut1on Roman Fominok $759,433.02
Macedonia  Saksa Martin Sazdov $758,971.80
USA  Moo David Hull $719,142.60


UK player earnings (2016)

Player id Name 2016 earnings
 iRaffer Craig Rathbone $106,000.00
 Joshh Joshua-Lee Shephard $83,812.50
 Bance Ben Bance $83,812.50

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