A number of elite Canadian gamers have become millionaires thanks to their success within the flourishing esports sector over the past few years. They have flown the flag with aplomb at several major tournaments, earning fame and fortune thanks to their prowess at games like Dota 2 and Fortnite.
Their exploits have helped competitive gaming soar in popularity across the country. Analytics firm NewZoo estimates that 1.5 million Canadians now watch esports events on a monthly basis, and that figure continues to spiral. These are the five highest earning Canadian esports players so far:
Artour “Arteezy” Babaev
Arteezy was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but moved to Vancouver as a young child. He burst onto the esports scene at the age of 17, when he helped newly formed Dota 2 squad Speed Gaming upset Team DK to win MLG Columbus. It was his first LAN event, and he was playing off lane in a role he was unfamiliar, but he held his own alongside EternaLEnVy, Aui_2000, pieliedie and SingSing as they stormed to victory.
He resolved to become a full-time Dota player after graduating from high-school, and it proved to be an inspired decision. Arteezy was a founding member of S A D B O Y S, who won 16 of their first 18 matches before being signed up by Evil Geniuses as the franchise’s new Dota 2 squad. They finished third at The International, taking home more than $1 million in prize money. That helped Arteezy earn $313,093.63 in 2014. All earnings mentioned in this article are in US dollars.
He joined Team Secret the following year and earned $389,362.42 after helping them The Summit 3, Mars Dota League 2015 and ESL One Frankfurt 2015. Arteezy then rejoined Evil Geniuses and by 2016 he had become officially the world’s highest-ranked Dota 2 player. In 2017, Evil Geniuses won $125,000 for seizing first place in the Manila Masters.
However, the main way to make a fortune at Dota 2 is by enjoying success at The International (TI), which had a total prize pool of $25.5 million in 2018 and $34.3 million in 2019. Arteezy led Evil Geniuses to a third placed finish at TI 2018, and he ended up earning $652,575.80 that year. Last year he made $352,310.40, and he has already earned $44,600 this year, despite several events being cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
It leaves Arteezy as Canada’s highest-earning esports star, with $2.25 million in career earnings. Evil Geniuses are regularly among the favourites in the Esports betting at Unikrn, so Arteezy should earn a lot more cash over the next few years.
Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling
Aui_2000 was the first esports player to really put Canada on the map. He also hails from Vancouver and he earned a cult following in the city thanks to his skill when playing Dota 2. He attended the University of British Columbia, but dropped out to play video games full-time. His parents were initially skeptical, but they soon changed their tune after he earned $215,791.69 in 2014, aged just 22.
The following year, Aui_2000 led Evil Geniuses to victory at TI 2015 alongside American players Fear, ppd and UNiVeRsE and Pakistani gamer SumaiL. Aui_2000 earned an impressive $1,641,751.74 in 2015, which is more than any other Canadian player has ever earned in a single year.
He has never quite managed to hit those heights again. Evil Geniuses kicked him from the team shortly after winning TI, with Arteezy replacing him. This decision sparked outrage among the Dota 2 community, but team captain ppd said it was down to his mistakes under pressure and his poor communication skills. Aui_2000 went on to form his own team, Digital Chaos, but they struggled and disbanded, before he represented Team NP, Forward Gaming and Newbee. He has career earnings of almost $2 million, but the bulk of that sum came in 2015, and he has only earned around $100,000 since then.
Williams “Zayt” Aubin
Epic Games launched the $30 million Fortnite World Cup last year in a bid to maintain the enormous popularity of its flagship battle royale title. Zayt, a 19-year-old from Quebec, was among the favourites for glory after winning the Fortnite Summer Skirmish Week 3 in 2018 and then securing victory at ESL Katowice Royal 2019.
He landed a coveted place in both the solo and duos tournaments, and ended up finishing fourth in the duos alongside American player Saf. That earned Zayt a cool $750,000, which is not bad for a day’s work. He collected an extra $50,000 for a 32nd-64th place finish in the solo event, leaving him $800,000 richer overall. It puts his career earnings at $1,112,541.53 from just 38 tournaments.
Thomas “Elevate” Krueger
Elevate is a member of esports team 100Thieves, which is part owned by Canadian superstar Drake. He was an unknown quality when he rocked up at the Fortnite World Cup. He had no notable successes under his belt, and his career earnings stood at just $37,000, but he took the duos tournament by storm.
He and 100T teammate Ceice finished third, which saw them take home $1.8 million. That has boosted Elevate’s career earnings to $986,758.20, although he will receive a salary and sponsorship tie-ins for his role at 100T, so it is safe to say he is now another US-dollar esports millionaire. He is still just 18 years old and he still has plenty of time to boost his career earnings.
Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao
EternaLEnVy is known as one of the most polarizing Dota 2 players in history thanks to his strong personality, his high skill level, his tendency to role steal and his history of abandoning matches. Yet he has racked up many fans throughout his colourful career, and earned $974,849.69 in the process.
His best year came in 2016, when he earned $300,000 after helping Team Secret win the Shanghai Major. He most recently played for Cloud0, but he has also represented Evil Geniuses and Fnatic, among others. His career earnings have dwindled in recent years, but he has the quality to make a big comeback in future.
Ones to Watch
The competitive Fortnite scene was plunged into jeopardy when Epic Games pulled plans to host a 2020 Fortnite World Cup. It only became a lucrative esport last year, when Epic provided $100 million in prize funds for pro tournaments. Now it could diminish just as quickly, meaning there may not be many opportunities for the likes of Zayt and Elevate to boost their earnings in future.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a much more stable esport, as it has had a thriving pro scene ever since it launched in 2012. Canada boasts some of the world’s best CS:GO players, including Twistzz, NAF, Stanislaw and shroud. NAF has career earnings of $953,765.66 and he was on fire in 2019, so he could soon move up to number three in the list of the highest-earning Canadians. Twistzz has earned more than $800,000, so he is another one to watch.
Canada also boasts one of the world’s best StarCraft II players in Scarlett, plus Call of Duty star Karma. Meanwhile, Troy “Canadian” Jaroslawski has already earned $210,000 thanks to his success in Rainbow 6 Siege in 2020, taking his career earnings to $320,000, so there are plenty of exciting Canadians with the potential to soar into the stratosphere.
[Written By External Partner]