Six of the Best: eSports Players
eSports has grown so much that today many thousands of players bring impressive skills to the table, and walk away with hard-earned prize cash. Some, though, are in a league of their own, whether you're considering them based on talent, earnings or impact on competitive gaming's evolution.
As such, we've picked six of our favorites. There were many to choose from, of course, and it took some tough decision making to reach our final list. Each of the below is an icon of competitive gaming and demonstrates what is possible with dedication, hard work and perseverance.
The Six Best eSports Players in the World
Early on in Brazilian player FalleN's CS:GO career, he almost didn't have the courage to play in a competitive setting. He was invited by his friends in the team Firegamers in 2009 to give it a shot and join them on stage. In his first bout with the team he got a taste of victory in the WCG 2009 Brazil Finals and found his confidence. He went on to become the world's most financially successful CS:GO player, and to date he has claimed $769,139 in prize money. Not content just to play and win, FalleN also founded the Brazilian eSports organization Games Academy, and he continues to be devoted to supporting and growing competitive gaming in his home country.
In 2018 Jonathan 'Fatal1ty' Wendel may not be the most prolific player, but he remains an icon of competitive gaming, and was arguably the first celebrity player to reach household name status. His first taste of success came in 1999, with a $500 prize secured by coming third at a Quake III Arena competition. He went on to win around $450,000 in prize money through his eSports career, while also enjoying life as a successful entrepreneur selling Fatal1ty-branded gaming hardware and merchandise. He was inducted in the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2010, and remains one of those most well-known players there is, even if he may have logged out some time ago.
Purists might not consider arcade gaming to be true eSports by any modern definition. But arcades are where the competitive gaming concept was first forged, and to date they are where some of the most skilled gaming exists, as well as being where the most riveting live events take place. And if there is one moment of competitive gaming that is more famous than any other, it is from one of those live arcade clashes. Daigo Umehara began visiting arcades in 1991, and six years later he reigned as Japan's national Street Fighter champion. Then, in 2004, he sat down to play Street Fighter III Third Strike against another arcade legend, Justin Wong. Backed into a corner and about to lose the match, Daigo demonstrated absurd skill to make one of the most dazzling comebacks seen across arcade and eSports gaming, assuring himself the status as a truly magnificent player.
Demonstrating that DOTA 2 is where the really big bucks of eSports are earned, German player Kuro KuroKy Salehi Takhasomi has to date banked a staggering $3.5 million from tournament play. Currently a member of Team Liquid, he is the defining eSports player of the modern age; committed, professional and flexible. He is known for getting consistently better year-on-year, and as quite possibly the most successful professional gamer of all time. Should you ever need a case study to prove that eSports stars are today absolutely comparable to athletes from traditional sports, KuroKy is your man.