Top Women Esports Players Earn Far Less Than Men, According to a New Report

Top Women Esports Players Earn Far Less Than Men, According to a New Report

Esports' top female competitors earn far less than their male counterparts, according to a new report from Intel and British retailer Currys PC World.

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are a novel form of ownership that could rejigger the financial landscape for creators. Even if the market for some of them proves frothy, this blockchain-based technology presents a unique way for artists to make money and engage their fans. With experimentation already underway, the gates are open for them to do what they do best: get creative.

Read more Show less
Sam Blake

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

Thanks to a sizzling startup scene and a receding pandemic, Los Angeles investors are feeling more optimistic this spring than they did at the end of last year.

They are expecting robust hiring, increasing valuations and a quick recovery of the U.S. economy, according to the dot.LA VC Sentiment Survey, a quarterly poll of the top VCs in Los Angeles.

Read more Show less
Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.