It’s a dream of many tweens and teens across the globe: Playing games all day, and getting paid to do it. And for a handful of select players, that dream career is a reality.
Over the past few years, the eSports scene has exploded and with it, the prize money up for grabs.
Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the Dota 2 professional arena – which boasts global tournaments with prize pools reaching into millions of dollars, and players who have become celebrities.
For the uninitiated, Dota 2 is a free-to-play, 10-player online game, which pits two teams of five against each other in a race to destroy the other team’s “ancient” in their base. Players can pick from a pool of over 100 heroes, each with a minimum of four skills and just shy of 150 items to choose from.
In the three major tournaments organised by Dota 2 developer and distributor Valve over the 2016 / 2017 season, over $28 million (and counting) has been up for grabs. That equates to roughly R362 million’s worth of prize money for just three events.
From 7 to 12 August, the highlight of the Dota 2 calendar – The International – takes place, with a prize pool of over $22 million at the time of writing. The winning team can expect to take home 44% of that prize money, which is almost $9.8 million.
The prize money for The International is largely crowdfunded, with Valve putting up $1.6 million to kick off, and raising the rest through the sale of Battle Passes that unlock special features and cosmetics for players. Currently, the community has raised over $20 million.
So what does this translate to for the individual players?
Individual earnings from team wins at major tournaments will vary depending on player’s contracts - but a win at The International this year could net the players around $2 million.
The vast majority of professional Dota 2 players are between the ages of 17 and 29, with the average age of the players in the top three teams placed at 22 years old. One of the top-ranked players in the world – Australian Anathan “ana” Pham – was just 12 years old when he started his professional Dota 2 career.
The youngest professional player to win $1 million at a tournament? Sumail Hassan from Pakistan, who was just 16 when he helped his team Evil Geniuses to win The International 2015.
Locally, Telkom’s DGL Masters Dota 2 tournament offered R1 million in prize money last year. The newly rebranded VS Gaming (a standalone subsidiary of Telkom) has continued their support of the local eSports scene, stumping up a prize money of R1.5 million with partners SuperSport for the FIFA 17 tournament at the VS Gaming Festival this past weekend.
The winner – Zuhair Ebrahim – took home a cool R500 000, instantly making him the top-earning eSports player in South Africa.
At EGE this weekend, the VS Gaming Dota 2 Masters will be up for a prize pool of R550 000, and some of the top local players will be showing off their skills in games including Dota 2, FIFA 17, CS: GO and Call of Duty.
So next time you’re told to get off the Xbox and come help around the house, you can comfortably say you’re training.
This article first appeared on KFM : How to win millions as a gamer