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In the past twenty years, competitive gaming in many successful esports countries has developed from a niche activity to a full blown global phenomenon. What started as small competitions that nobody took seriously has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, which is set to surpass $3 billion by 2022. Top games like League of Legends, Fortnite, Dota 2 and CS:GO have tens of millions of players and millions of viewers, while games like Valorant and Rainbow Six Siege are building up a loyal following.
Top players can earn a lot of money too, with thousands of professionals worldwide already making a living from gaming. Esports games have also attracted the attention of bettors, some of whom enjoy considerable winnings from esports betting.
If you’d like a head start in your Esports betting career, check out our betting academy section with all the information you need to start betting now.
The subject of which countries are the best at esports is a bit complex. In a way, it makes sense that large countries, such as the US or China, have more top players than smaller countries like Luxemburg or Switzerland. Still, relatively small countries (in terms of population) like Sweden or Denmark are home to some of the highest-paid gamers in the world. In our list below, we have selected the countries with the highest overall earnings.
We could measure the largest Esports countries by population but that would be inaccurate. Instead, we need to take a look between population and total earnings. For example, China has the largest population out of all the countries on our list, but they’re in second place, right behind the US. As such, countries like Denmark or Sweden have some tremendous players; some of the richest in the world in fact.
On top of that, the US and Asian Esports markets are gigantic, with the European one trailing slightly behind. Therefore, it makes total sense to include the largest Esports countries based on total earnings and number of players.
Due to the high output number of Esports athletes from the Asian, US, and European markets, one would assume that the largest countries produce the best talent. But this isn’t necessarily the truth.
Take Denmark for example; the country has just 5.8 million people and yet they’re 6th in terms of total Esports earnings. Essentially, the larger the country, the higher the possibility of stellar players appearing, but this does not mean they’ll be better than others.
In this article, we will look at the top 20 esports countries in terms of total earnings over time. While not a perfect ranking system, it does still give us a good indication nevertheless. All Esports earnings listed here are sourced from esportsearnings.com.
The USA is home to over 330 million people, and is still one of the richest countries in the world. Home to some of the top esports players and teams in the world, the States is also where many esports champions started. Back in the day, TSM (Team SoloMid) established a global phenomenon in Seasons 1 and 2 of League of Legends, causing the players to become almost as well-known as mainstream sports stars.
The US is also where many games are developed, including Call of Duty and Fortnite. Some of the top teams in the world, including CLG, Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Dignitas, FaZe Clan are still around, and have even branched out into multiple esports.
The US arguably has the largest gaming and Esports market and as such, is home to hundreds of Esports tournaments each year. Unsurprisingly, US players have earned the most out of all other Esports countries – a staggering $180,325,639!
The US’s highest-earning player is Kyle Giersdorf, otherwise known as Bugha. He is a professional Fortnite player and has won $3,173,461. As far as games, the games with the most winnings are Fortnite, Dota 2, and Call of Duty.
Right off the bat, we can see the stark difference in the number of active players between the US and China. Compared to the US, China has some 15,000 players less. However, they’re just $27 million behind the US in terms of total earnings. For having such a thinner professional player base, China has done incredibly well in all kinds of international and national tournaments to earn that much money.
On top of that, China is taking over the world economically, and has a giant Esports scene…
One great aspect of Chinese Esports is their gaming and competitive pedigree. The Chinese scene has been at the top in terms of skill level throughout many games, and as such, Chinese players are (alongside Koreans) the best in Asia and arguably, the world.
Their total earnings to this day are $153,075,802; an insanely high amount considering having just under 5,000 professional Esports players. The richest Chinese player is Wang ‘Ame’ Chunyu, a Dota 2 competitor. Speaking of Dota 2, almost all of the top 40 earners play Dota 2 – there’s no denying the power of Chinese Esports in that game.
South Korea is one of the founding nations of esports. Not only is it one of the countries where players can earn the most, but it's also where many of the first esports competitions were held. Even today, LCK Korea is one of the main esports events held globally.
It even hosted the first LAN tournaments for StarCraft, a scene still dominated by Korean players. Besides StarCraft II, Korean players also excel at League of Legends, Dota 2, CSGO, Rocket League, Overwatch, Hearthstone and many other games. Korean players get more fame and recognition than players in other countries, and they are often considered to be minor celebrities in their home country. Feel welcome to read our extensive guides to Rocket League betting and Hearthstone betting.
South Korea has thousands of extremely talented and experienced Esports players who are globally considered as some of the best in the world. South Korean teams follow strict game plans, focus a lot on training, and are very disciplined. These types of characteristics have brought them glory in all kinds of games, with total earnings reaching an impressive $107,574,126.
While they have just 700 fewer players than China, they’re still far behind them in terms of total earnings. The only reason for this is that South Korean players don’t prefer certain games (Dota 2 for example). Some of these games have tournaments with massive prize pools which means the Koreans are missing out. Even so, their highest earner ($1,309,607) is Lee Sang-Hyeok, globally known as ‘Faker’. As for games, their main games of choice are League of Legends, Starcraft II, and PUBG.
Russia is by far the largest country in the world in terms of geography, and has a population of 144 million. That means plenty of young and hungry video game players looking for success. In fact, Vladimir Putin himself supports esports in schools.
What’s interesting is that the last time we analyzed these countries, Russia was 7th in total earnings but – that has since changed.
The most popular Esports games in Russia (well, the one with the most earnings) are Dota 2 and CSGO. The top 7 earners all play Dota 2 with a couple of CSGO players in between. Their highest earner is Yaroslav Naydenov, otherwise known as ‘Miposhka’. His earnings total $3,932,053.
Russian teams enjoy favorable seeding in most major CSGO and VALORANT tournaments, often having 2-3 teams qualify for main events. This is a testament to just how good the CIS region is throughout these two Esports games.
Sweden may be a small country compared to the US and China, but it has done remarkably well within the global esports scene. The country has has some of the top players in CS:GO, with the likes of f0rest, KRiMZ, and Olofmeister. Along with this, the Swedish Dota 2 scene boasts proud representatives in players like ZAi and S4.
The country is also home to the DreamHack tournaments.
Sweden is like Russia in regards to what types of games are the most popular there (Dota 2 and CSGO). As such, two players stand out with their global earnings. As an example, the third-highest earner is Johan Åström (‘pieliedie’) coming in with $989,390 earned. The second-highest is Gustav ‘s4’ Magnusson with $2,735,863, and in first place we have Ludwig ‘Zai’ Wåhlberg with a monstrous $3,266,749.
All three of these players participate in Dota 2 Esports.
Denmark is a small country in size, but a giant in terms of esports. Danish players do very well on the global esports scene, with teams like Astralis excelling in CS:GO. Moreoever, older LoL players will undoubtedly remember the success of Copenhagen Wolves.
Denmark and Sweden have earned almost the same amount of prize money, but Denmark did it with 1,000 fewer players. Denmark also has an absolute monster in the form of Johan Sundstein, well-known by his nickname ‘N0tail’. N0tail has earned an insane amount of cash throughout his career, with the total now equalling $7,183,917!
Danish players mainly compete in Dota 2 and CSGO but have dabbled in League of Legends in the form of the Copenhagen Wolves team some time back. The highest-earning active LoL player is Rasmus Winther, otherwise known as ‘Caps’ who won $470,104.
France is home to some of the top esports teams in the world, and that includes teams like LDLC, Vitality, PSG Esports, G2, and Rogue. Most of these teams have representatives in various esports, from CS:GO, FIFA, Hearthstone and especially Call of Duty. We invite you to read our guide to CoD betting here.
While France might not be a huge powerhouse in Esports, they’re still home to some of the strongest Esports athletes in the world. With that said though, they’ve earned almost $70 million less than South Korea with 200 more active players so there’s still a lot to go before they reach the top.
Also, France has only one millionaire Esports player and that is Sébastian Debs known as ‘Ceb’; a Dota 2 player. He’s earned quite a lot over the years – $5,773,812 to be exact. Ceb is also miles ahead of the second-highest earner in Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire whose total is $893,597.
The Great White North also has a vibrant sports scene. Many Canadian players also compete in the US, and there is a good overlap and healthy rivalry between the two nations.
Canada’s Esports earnings feature a healthy mix of games near the top of the earnings list based on the highest-earning players. With that said, games that you can expect to find in the top 20 are Dota 2, CSGO, Call of Duty, StarCraft 2, Rocket League, Rainbow Six Siege, and PUBG.
The highest-earning Canadian player is the very famous ‘Arteezy’, full name Artour Babaev who has won $2,468,733 in total earnings.
Germany is slowly taking over the esports world. With an increasing number of esports competitions in the country, Germany is one of the first countries to offer a visa for esports players. The country is home to some of the best teams in Europe, including SK Gaming, Alternate aTTaX, and Mousesports.
Although Germany is at the bottom part of the top 10 best Esports countries, they’ve still a couple of absolute legends of Esports playing under the German flag. In fact, the highest German earner is none other than Kuro Takhasomi, better known as ‘KuroKy’; the legendary Dota 2 player. His total earnings equal $5,215,504 and make up a whopping 16% of the country’s total Esports earnings.
The highest-earning games for Germany are Dota 2, CSGO, and Hearthstone.
Finland is a small nation, but still one of the top esports countries in the world – in fact, many top Dota and CS:GO players are Finnish. What's more, Finnish esports players are even recognised as athletes by the government and the Finnish Olympic Committee. Meanwhile, Finland is also home to some of the top esports events, such as Assembly and eFutisliiga.
Experienced Dota 2 fans already know what Finland is all about, but for those that don’t here’s the deal – Dota 2. The top three earners for Finland are all Dota 2 players and these are – Jesse ‘JerAx’ Vainikka, Topias ‘Topson’ Taavitsainen, and Lasse ‘Matumbaman’ Urpalainen. Their earnings are as follows: $6,470,548, $5,690,417, and $4,507,889, respectively.
These three players combined contribute to an incredible 60% of Finland’s total Esports earnings! This is an insane number but what else to expect from these three Dota 2 behemoths. Other games where Finnish Esports athletes have made plenty of earnings are Starcraft 2, CSGO, and Rainbow Six Siege.
The United Kingdom is the first country outside of the top 10 yet they’re just 500k behind Finland in terms of total earnings. Interestingly, British players aren’t really strong in the most popular Esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, CSGO, etc.
Instead, their top games are Fortnite, Call of Duty, and FIFA. Due to this, even if the UK has almost 4k active players, they haven’t really earned a lot considering these games don’t offer the same prize pool sizes as the biggest Esports titles. Interestingly, the UK has its own Esports Association.
The UK’s top earner is Jaden ‘Wolfiez’ Ashman with $1,344,978. For those that don’t know, Wolfiez is one of the world’s best Fortnite players. Second place goes to Kyle ‘Mongraal’ Jackson, another Fortnite player; his earnings come in at $688,004.
Brazilian esports have seen a huge boost in earnings in the past years, and there is even a dedicated esports league BBL (Bad Boy Leeroy) that now has its own stadium in São Paulo. Brazil has always had a fairly strong Esports following with some very strong teams and players across all Esports. With that said though, their highest earners almost all play CSGO or Rainbow Six Siege, apart from Paulo Damo da Rosa, known as PVDDR. PVDDR is a Magic: The Gathering Arena player and is Brazil’s 6th top earner!
Brazil’s definite favorite game is CSGO; the highest five earners all play CSGO and these are Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo ($1,129,842), Epitácio ‘Taco’ de Melo ($1,081,958), Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga (1,064,743), Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David (1,035,801), and Lincoln ‘fnx’ Lau ($426,167).
Ukraine was previously home to plenty of World of Tanks pros, but the overall esports scene has become more mainstream with games like Dota 2 and CS:GO achieving popularity, played by the country’s top ten earners. Esports have official recognition in Ukraine, and there are plenty of smaller CS:GO tournaments too.
Surprisingly, Ukraine has the third-lowest number of active players, right behind Taiwan and Malaysia (out of the top 20 countries). And yet, they’re the 13th biggest Esports earning country. Previously, World of Tanks was the country’s largest game but that has changed over the years.
Ukraine’s top 20 earners nowadays all play either Dota 2 (majority) or CSGO (minority). Funnily enough, the top 2 largest earners are separated by only $8k! Even so, Illya ‘Yatoro’ Mulyarchuk has earned the most – $3,698,598, whilst Miroslaw ‘Mira’ Kolpakov is second with $3,690,111.
On top of that, Ukrainian teams are similar to Russian ones in regards to major tournament seeding; as they are a part of the CIS region, around 1-2 Ukrainian teams qualify and their players are a constant part of most major CSGO Esports tournaments.
The Australian esports scene is home to some of the best CS:GO, Call of Duty, Fortnite and Dota 2 players. Meanwhile, ESL has its own broadcasting studio in Sydney. The country’s Anathan ‘ana’ Pham is one of the richest Dota 2 players in the world, earning $6,004,411 to date. For more, check out our detailed article about Australia esports betting.
While ‘ana’ is Australia’s leading Esports athlete in terms of earnings, there are a few more worth mentioning. One is Damien ‘kpii’ Chok, ana’s Dota 2 compatriot. Kpii has won $1,826,891 over his Dota 2 career. Next up we have James ‘TGLTN’ Giezen, a PUBG player with $407,688 in earnings.
Australia’s most successful games are a mix of Dota 2, PUBG, CSGO, Call of Duty, iRacing, Rocket League, and Fortnite.
Anyone who has heard of IEM Katowice knows were Poland falls on the esports map. The country is home to the world’s biggest tournament for CS:GO, Starcraft 2, and Warcraft 3. Poland’s top 10 earners play CS:GO, Dota 2, LoL, StarCraft 2, and even Magic: The Gathering Arena, while the highest Polish earner is Michał ‘Nisha’ Jankowski, who has won $1,676,373 through playing Dota 2.
Poland’s main game of choice is CSGO but funnily enough, their highest earner doesn’t play it; instead, he’s a very skilled Dota 2 player. Nonetheless, players such as Filip ‘neo’ Kubski ($756,327) and Wiktor ‘TaZ’ Wojtas ($739,497) have done an exceptional job with their past performances and contribute to Poland’s total earnings quite nicely.
Oh, forgot to mention – Poland also has a Magic: The Gathering Arena superstar by the name of Piotr ‘kanister’ Glogowski who’s won $273,425. Also, the famous League of Legends player Jankos (Marcin Jankowski) is also Polish and he’s earned $415,166 throughout his career.
Japan is the country that has contributed the most to the development of video games – console gaming and arcade gaming in particular. Thus, it is surprising the country did not make it to any of the top 10 positions in our list.
Top earning esports pros in the Land of the Rising Sun play a very different set of games compared to many other countries, such as Street Fighter, Shadowverse, Hearthstone, and even Tekken. Japan’s top earner overall is ‘feg’, who has won a whopping $1,003,000.00 in card game Shadowverse. Japan’s second-highest earner participates in Street Fighter V tournaments, and he’s called Hajime ‘Tokido’ Taniguchi. Tokido’s total earnings are $533,508.
Taiwan has climbed up the ladder of the best Esports countries in recent times. In our previous iteration of this analysis, they were nowhere to be found in the top 20 yet here they are, at 17th place nonetheless!
Taiwan has the second-lowest number of players, just above Malaysia so it’s impressive they’ve managed to clinch one of the top 20 spots. A quick reminder that the Taiwanese team ‘Taipei Assassins’ won the Season 2 League of Legends World Championship as underdogs, so there’s some Esports pedigree involved.
In general, Taiwanese players are most successful in League of Legends, but they’re also very good at Shadowverse, Hearthstone, and PUBG. Taiwan’s highest earner is ‘sasamumu’ who has won exactly $1,000,000 by playing Shadowverse. Right behind him is League of Legends legendary player Hung ‘Karsa’ Hau Hsuan with $548,127.
First thing’s first – Malaysia is obsessed with Dota 2. Some of the most legendary Dota 2 quotes that fans and players adore came from Malaysian or Philippino shoutcasters. On top of that, Malaysia has some of the strongest Dota 2 players in the world and as such, they’ve achieved tremendous success in international tournaments. All that with the smallest number of professional Esports players compared to the other 19 top 20 countries.
Here’s a fun fact – Malaysia’s top 20 earners all play Dota 2 – except one; Andrew ‘kaze-’ Khong. And all 19 Malaysian Dota 2 players contribute a total of $11,154,882 to Malaysia’s entire earnings! It’s actually insane how entrenched Dota 2 is in their gaming culture.
Some of the most successful Malaysian players include Yap ‘xNova’ Jianwei ($1,893,391), Zheng ‘MidOne’ Yeik Nai ($1,795,158), Cheng ‘NothingToSay’ Jin Xiang ($1,172,676), and Chai ‘Mushi’ Yee Fung ($1,026,918).
Bangkok features hundreds of gaming cafès, and the country has a whopping 18.3 million gamers. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the top-earning gamers come from the so-called Land of Smiles. Thailand is also a regular medal winner in the SEA Games (in esports as well as others).
Thailand has a few very successful players, the best of which is Anucha ‘Jabz’ Jirawong, a Dota 2 player. He’s earned $685,188 until now. The second-highest earner is Nuengnara ‘23savage’ Teeramahanon ($311,146), another Dota 2 player.
Apart from that, Thai pros dabble in Arena of Valor or PUBG otherwise as these games are very popular there.
The Netherlands may be small, but they still have a large presence on the global esports scene; they even have their own FIFA league in eDivisie and a Dutch League for LoL. Dutch players are also some of the world’s top earners, and play a wide range of MOBAs, shooters and even card games.
The Dutch don’t really have a game (or games) of choice; instead, their most successful players are spread from Fortnite to the F1 games. The country’s highest earner is Dave ‘Rojo’ Jong who’s earned an impressive $1,214,643 from Fortnite.
Chris ‘ChrisJ’ de Jong plays CSGO and has earned $608,224, Thijs ‘Thijs’ Molendijk is a Hearthstone player with $514,918 in earnings, and Jos ‘ViolentPanda’ van Meurs is a Rocket League player who’s won $300,791 throughout his career. As you can see, the Netherlands is pretty versatile when it comes to Esports titles.
This is a pretty argumentative question but in terms of pure earnings, we can easily say the United States. Their players and teams have accumulated over $180 million!
However, Asian players are exceptional at games with micromanagement (Dota 2, League of Legends, etc.) but aren’t too strong in games such as CSGO. Although, the global feel is that Asian players are generally the best. Definitely tune into some streams to see how the Asian teams and players dominate certain games.
If we’re talking in terms of total earnings, that would be ‘N0tail’ who’s earned more than $7 million in Dota 2 tournaments.