eSports Players Who Bring in Some Hard Cash
As a kid, it was a dream to grow up and make money playing video games. With the birth of big name tournaments, that dream became a reality. Every year, thousands of people try their luck at earning big bucks for playing their favorite games.
This intriguing career path isn't for everyone, of course. Only a select few players walk away with a decent amount of money in the bank. Still, these select players make their bank accounts proud with their gameplay.
New York City's Justin Wong is one of the most prolific players in the Fighting Game Community (FGC). In 2004, he earned fame for Evo Moment 37, which saw him making an unbelievable comeback against Daigo Umehara. This moment drew in a plethora of new fighting game players worldwide.
Keita Ai, who is better known as Fuudo, broke into FGC with Virtua Fighter 4. After taking the top spot at 2005's Super Battle Opera, he made the jump to Street Fighter. With the release of Street Fighter V, he became one of the best R. Mika players in the world.
Yusuke Momochi has been a Street Fighter master since 2008's All CAPCOM vs. Game Olympics. His performance on Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition earned him first place wins at Battle Medley Singapore 2011 and Seasons Beatings. Momochi was also victorious on Street Fighter X Tekken at CEO 2013.
At the age of 10, Daigo Umehara began playing fighting games at the local arcade. At 17, the Japanese player flew to the United States to compete in the official Street Fighter Alpha 3 tournament. Umehara shocked everyone by defeating Street Fighter veteran Alex Valle.
Saul Leonardo Mena II
Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Saul Leonardo Mena II turned heads at the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour. Mena, who is better known as MenaRD, took first place at the tournament after a battle with Tokido. As a Birdie expert, he continued performing well at major Street Fighter V tournaments.
At 18, Victor Woodley, who is also known as Punk, began competing in fighting games. 2017 was a breakout year for the player, thanks to Evo. He defeated some big names to reach the Street Fighter V Grand Finals. Although he ended up in second place, Punk gained the respect of many veterans in the scene.
Du Cong Dang
In 2012, Du Cong Dang impressed everyone with a second place spot at Northeast Championships 13. Better known as NuckleDu, the Florida native has his opponents questioning everything with his Guile play. During his time, NuckleDu joined a handful of eSports teams, including Team Liquid and Ghost Gaming.
Juan DeBiedma is one of many players keeping Super Smash Bros. Melee alive after its 2001 release. Known as Hungrybox, the Florida native has been competing in Melee tournaments since 2009. He is known by many as an untouchable Jigglypuff player. In recent years, he has been competing in fewer tournaments because of his engineering job.
Better known as Tokido, Hajime Taniguchi became an overnight phenomenon after winning Evo 2002. Winning the tournament’s debut boosted the player's confidence. Since then, he has become a legend in Japanese FGC. Along with Daigo Umehara, he is one of the Five Gods of fighting games.
Dominique McLean earned the name SonicFox for a reason. His love of the furry fandom has led to him performing in a fursuit. He is known for his ability to learn characters quickly for important tournaments. Positive behavior earned him the eSports Player of the Year award at The Game Awards in 2018.
Better known as AdmiralBulldog, Dota 2 player Henrik Ahnberg joined forces with Alliance in 2013. With the team, he won The Invitational in 2013. In 2016, Ahnberg retired from competitive play to become a full-time streamer. He has been a commentator/analyst at events such as DreamLeague and The Bucharest Minor.
While Marcus "Ace" Christensen started off playing Counter-Strike, he found his calling with Dota 2. Most of the attraction stemmed from his brother, Sylvester, who played Dota competitively. Christensen found most of his success playing with Team Secret with back-to-back wins at DreamLeague.
James Clayton Eubanks has been one of Call of Duty's most recognizable faces for some time. Better known as Clayster, the Virginia native gained the first X-Games gold medal in eSports back in 2014. His gameplay also landed him on three consecutive CWL Pro League All-Star teams.
Finn Andersen, who is best known as Karrigan, began playing Counter-Strike back in 2006. With the 2012 release of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, he got serious about the competitive scene. After joining a handful of teams, he found success as part of FaZe Clan.
At 18, Jesper Wecksell became the youngest person to win a major tournament in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The Swedish native, who is better known as JW, has spent most of his playing career with popular team Fnatic. When he's not playing in tournaments, he is focusing on his gaming store back home.
Nick "nitr0" Cannella became a professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player in 2014. After hopping around teams, he landed with Team Liquid the following year. As an in-game leader, he has taken his team to several tournaments, including ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters and DreamHack.
Olof Kajbjer Gustafsson
Olof Kajbjer Gustafsson originally aspired to be a football player. Following an injury, he became infatuated with Counter-Strike. Under the name olofmeister, the Swedish player has played for Absolute Legends, LGB eSports and Fnatic. Since 2017, he has been playing for FaZe Clan.
Fernando "fer" Alvarenga has been competing in Counter-Strike tournaments since 2011 with a hidden disability. Since he was a kid, Alvarenga hasn’t been able to hear out of his right ear. That didn't stop him from being a top-notch Counter-Strike player in Brazil. In 2016, he underwent surgery to fix his hearing problem.
Gabriel Toledo has influenced a slew of Brazilian players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Under the name FalleN, he became a master at the magnum sniper rifle. In 2016, Toledo won eSports Personality of the Year at the eSports Industry Awards.
One year after first playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Jake "Stewie2K" Yip started playing professionally. Soon enough, he joined Cloud9 but not without some criticism from the community. Many assumed he was too green for such a major organization. Fortunately, he proved critics wrong with wins at iBUYPOWER Invitational 2016 and ESL Pro League Season 4 – North America.
Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander is easily one of the toughest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players out there. In 2016, he suffered a collapsed lung before his team's semi-final match at the Assembly Winter 2016. Instead of letting a replacement play for him, he chose to play the match.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Andreas Højsleth created his user name, Xyp9x, from hitting random keys on his keyboard. As a support player, he is one of the best around. After going pro in 2012, Højsleth was part of notable teams like Fnatic and Team Dignitas. Since 2016, he has been playing for Astralis.
In 2016, Harrison "Psalm" Chang quit college to pursue a professional gaming career. Heroes of the Storm was his game of choice until Fortnite arrived. "I was looking for a new game, a popular game where I could grow my career, … and Fortnite seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that," he told The Daily Bruin.
Whether you know him as Aui_2000 or just Aui, Kurtis Ling has been a Dota 2 master for a while. Discovering the game at age 9, he officially began a professional career in 2012. Three years later, he won The International 2015 as part of Evil Geniuses. The team earned an astounding $6 million from the win.
Artour Babaev, who is known as Arteezy, made his professional Dota 2 debut as a stand-in during MLG Columbus 2013. Three years later, he became the second player to gain a 9,000 Matchmaking Rating in online matchmaking. In 2016, he permanently rejoined Evil Geniuses after some bouncing around between them and Team Secret.
When it comes to Dota 2, Clement Ivanov can do it all. Known as Puppey, he is well-versed in all roles in the game. In 2011, Ivanov shocked everyone by winning The International with Natus Vincere. Three years later, he formed Team Secret after being released from the team.
Better known as ppd, Peter Dager's eSports career began with Heroes of Newerth. After jumping to Dota 2, Dager teamed up with Evil Geniuses for an explosive two-year run. Following two appearances at The Invitational, Dager became CEO of the group. In 2016, he quit the position and made a comeback in the competitive scene.
Saahil "Universe" Arora has been dominant in the Dota 2 scene with his usage of Faceless Void and Dark Seer. After a third place finish at The Invitational 2014, the Wisconsin native began a streak of wins at premier events. The next year, he emerged victorious at The Invitational with Evil Geniuses.
Amer Al-Barkawi's dreams were nearly crushed after he was removed from Balkan Bears in 2015. With some recognition to fall back on, the player known as Miracle joined OG. He went on to earn major wins at The Manila Major and The Frankfurt Major.
Johan "N0tail" Sundstein is considered the greatest Dota 2 player by many critics. With his win at The International 2018, he became the first Danish person to win the tournament. The following year, he helped OG become the first team to have two victories at The International.