New research reveals $190 million wage gap in the eSports industry

March 21, 2020

eSports Wage Gap

The rise of the eSports industry kicked off with gusto in 1998, back when there were only a handful of players and tournament prize pools were small.

Now, instead of only 34 players competing to win a little over $130,000 in cash, the eSports industry is booming.

More than 4000 players compete against each other on a regular basis to claim prize pools that can grow to be over $160 million in value. Life-changing sums of cash are awarded to the top players in the world, but there’s one glaring fault.

New research has revealed that the eSports industry is truly a boys club.

Massive gender wage gap revealed

In new research released by, the highest-paid eSports players have been gathered into one neat list.

However, when taking even a passing glance at the table, you’ll notice that there are no female names in the top 10 of top earners. In fact, you won’t spot a female name in the top 100 either.

While ladies are used to receiving the short end of the wage stick in many industries, it seems ridiculous that it would matter in an industry that should celebrate those who play like pros above all else?

Because you don’t need a penis to conquer your digital foes.

Unfortunately, the gap is large enough that is certainly draws attention to itself. The top 100 male players in eSports earned a staggering total of $192.4 million in 2019.

Compared to the top 100 female players who earned a combined total of $2.8 million, the gap is nothing short of shocking.

Top eSports players and their earnings

While not much can be done about the large wage gap that currently exists, it’s interesting to take a look at the sums earned by top players and what they were playing when they earned their titles.

Female players:

  1. Sasha Hostyn (Scarlett) – Canada – Earned $349,455 playing StarCraft II
  2. Li, Xiao Meng (Liooon) – China – Earned $213,200 playing Hearthstone
  3. Siobhan Bielamowicz (HaganeNoTema) – Australia – Earned $122,717 playing Attack on Titan Tribute Game

Male players:

  1. Johan Sundstein (N0tail) – Denmark – Earned $6,890,592 playing Dota 2
  2. Jesse Vainikka (JerAx) – Finland – Earned $6,470,000 playing Dota 2
  3. Anathan Pham (ana) – Australia – Earned $6,000,412 playing Dota 2

It seems that the money lies in playing Dota 2. A popular game that draws large crowds and even larger sponsors, it may be time for the ladies to take their place in the highest-paid player’s list by competing at Dota for the top rewards.

Will this change the face of eSports and who appears in the top rankings? We’ll have to wait and see.