How much do League of Legends Pros Earn?
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For most gamers, playing professionally and earning a living from playing your favourite games would be a dream come true, but how much money can you actually make from it?
With the competitive League of Legends scene growing year on year, LoL Pros can now earn significant amounts of money – with the top players earning up to $1,000,000 (yes, a million dollars) per year. Whilst most LoL Pros won’t reach such a vast sum of money, they are still well rewarded for their time and skills thanks to a basic wage of $12,500 per split (section 2.2 of LCS rules) courtesy of Riot Games (the creators of League of Legends).
Fortunately Sponsorships and subscribers can add a significant amount to that, but these are only available for the most popular LoL streamers and players.
How LoL Pros Earn their money
There are various sources of income for LoL pros, with earnings from each depending on a variety of factors. All LoL Pros receive the basic wage from Riot of $12,500 per split (this includes sub players) and have all living costs paid for by their teams.
The most popular players will have additional earnings from sponsorships, subscribers and advertising revenue, whilst the most successful players will gain additional earnings through tournament prize winnings.
While every possible source of income would take us an extremely long time to list we’ve taken a brief look at some of the major sources of money for people trying to make a career out of League of Legends.
Only the most popular LoL Pros will get sponsored for big money. Examples of this would be Ocelot (although no longer active, he is still incredibly popular in the community), Dyrus, Bjergsen and Rekkles. Sponsorship earnings for LoL Pros will vary wildly, but figures upwards of $10,000 per sponsor per split are not unheard of – and players may have more than one sponsorship deal.
For the popular LoL Pros, streaming is their best source of income. In fact, some pros make more from streaming than they do in prize money or from sponsorships. The most popular platform for streamers is Twitch.tv, which pays out $3.50 for every 1,000 people who watch an advert during a stream. For players such as Bjergsen and Dyrus who can easily draw in 40,000 viewers per stream the earning potential is huge. Even if viewers are using software such as adblock, streamers who play one advert an hour can expect to earn over $100 per hour, or almost $200,000 a year from streaming alone if doing it full time.
Subscribers are where Twitch.tv streamers make most of their earnings. It costs viewers $4.99 per month to subscribe to a stream, of which the streamer gets $2.50 per month. It might not sound like much, but it quickly adds up. Top streamers like The Oddone have thousands of subs and routinely bring in over $5,000 a month in sub earnings alone. Although subscribers don’t get shown adverts (which reduces advertising income for streamers), one viewer would have to view over a thousand adverts to bring in the same revenue for the streamer as one subscriber.
Many streamers will have their channels sponsored by related companies. One such example would be the CD-Key sites promoted by many LoL Pros. The streamer will receive a commission every time someone viewing his uses their link to purchase a CD-Key. Although the commission is small, it can quickly add up. Actual earnings for this aren’t disclosed so we don’t really know the true amounts, but estimates would be anywhere from $500 – $1,500 for the top streamers. Other companies will also often sponsor streamers – for example Cloud9 have a partnership with Kingston HyperX who sponsor all their streams. This usually amounts to around $1000 per player.
Riot Games Wage
As part of their commitment to growing eSports, Riot Games (the creators of League of Legends) pay all players in a team a basic salary, as per section 2.2 of the LCS rules for Season 5. This salary amounts to $12,500 per player (including subs) per split, which works out at around $25,000 per year (assuming the team isn’t relegated for either split). Players usually also have all their living expenses paid for by their team (rent, food etc) so the $12,500 salary goes further than you might expect.
Only the best players will earn significant tournament money, but the earnings potential is huge. Teams who finish first in the EU LCS receive an additional $10,000 per player (the amount decreases for 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed teams), whilst the winners of the LoL World Championship can expect prize money of up to $200,000 per player. LoL Pros may also take tournament winnings from smaller tournaments throughout the year, such as IEM or local/regional competitions. For reference, the LoL Pro with the most tournament winnings ever is bebe, previously of Taipei Assassins, who has earned over $275,000 to date.
Top Earning LoL Pros
Whilst difficult to estimate the total earnings of LoL Pros, we do know the lifetime top earners of tournament prize money:
As you can see, the top 5 earners of tournament prize money are all from the SEA region. However, even though NA and EU LoL Pros are behind in prize money, they make considerably more in sponsorship and streaming opportunities. So much so that many players from SEA are actively moving to NA/EU to increase their earnings, even though the standard of competition is lower.
The top earning LoL Pro of all time is believed to be Ocelot, who managed to increase his earnings to around $1,000,000 per year through a combination of merchandise, sponsorships and prize money. Pretty impressive!
TL;DR So how much do LoL Pros earn? From $12,500 to $1,000,000 a year, depending on how successful and popular they are.
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