January 13, 2021

Chess on the Rise – Top Earners in Esports 2020

The year 2020 was far from a normal year and naturally esports was also affected. Instead of the usual suspects in Dota 2 the top earners of come from a much older game.

The current pandemic did not only cancel most large-scale tournaments in the esport scene, the online replacement leagues almost never matched the prior prize pools and the effect can be clearly seen. Without The International or Counter-Strike Majors the top earners for 2020 come out of left field.

Chess and Call of Duty

Magnus Carlsen, reigning world champion in Chess, can also claim the title as top earner in esports for 2020. Throughout 18 competitions the Norwegian won roughly half a million US-Dollar with the majority stemming from Chess24 tournaments. TSM’s Chess star Hikaru Nakamura also made the top 10 by securing himself seventh place.

The remaining top earners for 2020 are dominated by Call of Duty. As the inaugural Call of Duty League came to a close, Activison Blizzard distributed more than 4.6 million prize money to the teams.

Top 10 Esport Earners 2020
  1. Sven Magnus “DrNykterstein” Carlsen:  $510,587 (Chess)
  2. James “Clayster” Eubanks: $383,325 (Call of Duty)
  3. Ian “Crimsix” Porter: $368,200 (Call of Duty)
  4. Indervir “iLLeY” Dhaliwal: 3$58,625 (Call of Duty)
  5. Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro: $351,625 (Call of Duty)
  6. Cuyler “Huke” Garland: $347,375 (Call of Duty)
  7. Hikaru “Hikaru” Nakamura: $324,644 (Chess)
  8. Paulo “PVDDR” Damo da Rosa: $300,000 (Magic: The Gathering Arena)
  9. Jovel “Cellium” McArthur: $256,550 (Call of Duty)
  10. Christopher “Simp” Lehr: $250,708 (Call of Duty)

The complete list can be found here:

The year prior Dota 2 dominated the charts as The International 2019 was the highest prize pool of the year. 2019’s top earner was Finnish Dota 2 star “JerAx” with 3.16 million US-Dollar. But not only the absence of Dota 2 is striking in this year’s earnings. Compared to “just” above $250,000 for this year’s tenth place, last year’s ranking saw tenth ranked “EpikWhale” earn more than 1.31 million US-Dollar through Fortnite. The Pandemic has declined the winnings of all the former top titles like Dota 2, Fortnite or CS:GO.

What do you think of 2020’s top earners? Join the discussion on social media or our Discord!  WYou can also help improve our website by submitting direct feedback!!

Image Credits: Instagram, Valve, Riot Games
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