Top Women Esports Players Earn Far Less Than Men, According to a New Report
Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
The report quantified esports players' winnings across leagues and countries, providing new data to illustrate gaming's diversity problem.
Winnings among the top 10 males ranged from $3.6 million to nearly $7 million. Among female esports pros, that range was just $50,000 to $358,000.
Esports has grown into a billion-dollar industry in recent years, and top players are making bank.
Twenty six year-old Johan Sundstein of Denmark, who plays the game Dota 2 for European squad OG, is 2020's top-earner. He raked in $6.9 million while four of his teammates rounded out the top five on the male side. The remaining top 10 also play Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game in which two teams of five compete to destroy the other's territory.
Across genders, the countries with the highest earnings were the U.S. ($41.3 million), China ($18.5 million) and South Korea ($16.5 million). Chinese players made up more than a quarter (26%) of the top-100 earning males, while nearly 42% of female esports pros were from the U.S.
The average age of the top earners is 24 for males and 27 for females, though gamers as young as 16 cracked the list.
L.A.-based Team Liquid was the top-grossing esports team, earning $34.9 million. OG, the next highest-earning team, took in $33.6 million, despite winning only 78 tournaments compared to Team Liquid's 1,706.
Five years ago, the esports industry was worth about $325 million, according to the report. That has now more than tripled to $1.1 billion. The audience size has also been growing, to 495 million. The report noted that the industry is expected to grow to $1.8 billion by 2022.
Esports tournaments are often held in person, but most have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Partly as a result, Twitch and YouTube have reportedly seen a 20% increase in hours streamed during the lockdown.
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Photo by Tami Abdollah
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