The world of competitive esports is no longer on the fringes of society. There are huge events attended by tens of thousands of people, streams watched by millions, and tournaments where millions of dollars are won. Esports have spawned a huge professional industry.
Naturally, as esports has grown, there have been a number of players who have become cultural figures, idolized by millions.
The Growth of Esports
We know that gaming is enjoyed by the masses. In one study, it was found that 74% of US households have at least one member who plays video games, and this popularity is translating to professional games, too. The esports industry’s global market revenue was forecast to grow to as much as 1.87 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.
Viewership figures for a variety of different tournaments have continued to skyrocket. The 2022 League of Legends World Championship became the most-watched LoL event ever with over five million simultaneous viewers. This goes to show just how popular these kinds of tournaments have become.
One of the driving factors in the growth of esports is esports gambling, visiting a crypto gambling site such as https://thunderpick.io/en/esports shows the popularity of many different games including Valorant, Dota, League of Legends, and many more. Thunderpick provides streams of numerous events and many different gambling markets, and gamblers can back their chosen markets simply and securely using cryptocurrency.
Gambling companies also help to drive growth and support the industry by offering live streaming of events, giving another way for users to log in and follow the big competitive esports. By 2025, there are projected to be over 640 million fans and regular viewers of esports all over the world, meaning the stars of these games could become household names.
In many instances, esports stars have already clocked up millions of followers online, and below, we’re exploring some of the most popular esports players in the world.
Bugha is a very young player who became a prominent gamer as a member of the Sentinals Esports Organization. He won the Solo Fortnite World Cup Championship and has a number of esports awards to his name.
Bugha currently has over 4 million followers on his YouTube, showing the kind of level of popularity modern esports players can reach. His real name is Kyle Giersdorf, and in 2019 he won an incredible $3,000,000. To put this into context, he took home more in prize money than the winner of the Wimbledon tennis tournament in the same year. The fact he was so young, just 16 at the time, made plenty of headlines. He has gone on to carve out a successful career playing Fortnite since then.
Plenty of Fortnite gamers have popular YouTube channels. American gamer Clix has an estimated net worth of around $2 million, mainly from streaming and making Fortnite videos.
South Korean superstar Faker is undeniably one of the most influential figures ever to play esports. He’s still in his 20s, but has been a pro for 10 years and has won millions of dollars playing League of Legends.
Lee Sang-hyeok is this gamer’s real name, and he’s proof of how much money there is in the industry. According to the Olympics website he makes around $5 million per year, with some money coming from prize funds, but much coming from merchandising and endorsement deals. He makes more than the average EPL footballer and has millions of followers across multiple online platforms.
Though it may be strange to put an inactive player on the list, there is no denying that N0tail, real name Johan Sundstein, is one of the most famous esports players in the world, partially due to his incredible earnings history.
Largely playing Dota 2, he has amassed over $7 million in prize money. He’s won most of his money while representing OG, who he was with from 2015 until he decided to take a break in 2022. N0tail’s most impressive achievement was becoming the International champion in both 2018 and 2019. Who knows whether he will return to pro gaming in the future, but the name N0tail will always be legendary among Dota fans.
Swedish star F0rest, real name Patrik Lindberg, has been playing at a professional level since 2005, helping to cement his place as one of the most experienced esports pros. He plays Counter-Strike and CS: GO, which are some of the most popular games for esports viewing and esports gambling.
He’s won over 50 gold medals in his career. At the moment he represents Dignitas and Fnatic and formerly played with Ninjas in Pyjamas. F0rest, now in his mid-30s, also has over 300,000 followers on Twitch.
These are four excellent examples of popular esports players. While it is impossible to rank players across esports, as all have their own specific skill sets and levels of popularity, all four of these players should be celebrated for different reasons, having helped grow esports to the level we see today.