The esports scene has enjoyed phenomenal growth in recent years and it now boasts more than 450 million fans across the globe. Its rise to prominence has catapulted a number of gamers and streamers to superstardom. Some have become household names as a result of their brilliance on Summoner’s Rift or Dust II, while others have soared to fame thanks to the sheer force of their personalities, as millions of fans tune in to watch their streams. These are the biggest personalities in the blossoming world of esports right now:
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins
Ninja is by far and away the most popular streamer on Twitch and he was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2019. He has ridden the crest of a wave since Fortnite shot to prominence and his channel now has more than 14.5 million subscribers. That is more than double the tally achieved by the second most popular streamer.
It blew up when he posted a stream of him playing Fortnite with Drake last year and his celebrity has continued rising ever since then. He is now earning more than $500,000 a month for his exploits, while Red Bull, Samsung and Uber Eats all sponsor him. It is rumoured that he was paid a cool $1 million to play new battle royale title Apex Legends this year, but he is now firmly back in his Fortnite heartland.
Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag
Nadeshot announced himself as a force to be reckoned with in the esports scene when he was named Call of Duty world champion in 2011. He was a Major League Gaming X Games gold medallist in 2014, he captained OpTiC Gaming’s Call of Duty team and he won Best Esports Player at The Game Awards 2014.
He now owns esports team 100Thieves and he pulled off a significant coup last year when he secured Drake and entertainment mogul Scooter Braun as co-owners. Nadeshot remains the face of the popular 100T and he casts a large shadow over the burgeoning esports world.
Dominique “SonicFox” McLean
SonicFox was named Esports Player of the Year at The Game Awards 2018 and deservedly so. He has already won four EVO events and he thrashed GO1 3-0 to win the last Dragon Ball FighterZ final. This gay, black, furry superstar is a beacon of hope for vast swathes of people that feel underrepresented in the competitive gaming world. His acceptance speech at The Game Awards was magnificent, and he also clinched the ESPN Esports Player of the Year 2018 honour, while flying the flag in style for fighting games.
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok
Faker has long been established as the world’s best League of Legends player. His takedown of Ryu at the 2015 LoL World Championship is the stuff of legend and it is still widely referred to as the greatest play of all time.
He is a three-time world champion and the first player to reach 1,000 kills in the LCK, while he continues to delight fans with his individual brilliance. LoL is the world’s most popular esport and while the prize pools might not be as high as those seen in Dota 2, Faker has a high salary and some lucrative sponsorship deals, so he is thought to bring in around $5 million per year.
Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek
Shroud’s 6.6 million Twitch subscribers is dwarfed by Ninja’s tally, but he remains the second most popular streamer in the business. The Canadian superstar began his career as a CS:GO pro and he helped Cloud9 to a second place finish at ESL One Cologne 2017.
He is a versatile streamer and he has devoted a significant amount of time to playing PUBG, CS:GO, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends and Fortnite. His YouTube channel also boasts more than 5 million subscribers, and he is an extremely influential figure within esports.
Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
Many fans rate s1mple as the world’s best CS:GO player and his highlights reel is insane. He has pulled off a number of clutch aces to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and he dazzles with his brilliance at almost every tournament.
He plays for an otherwise average Natus Vincere team and they have not tasted much success of late, while they are rarely among the favourites in the esports betting markets, but everyone knows just how good s1mple is. He is never afraid to speak his mind and he is a massive force within the CS:GO circuit.
Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez
GoldenBoy is arguably the most famous of all the esports commentators and his dulcet tones lit up the Overwatch League finals in Brooklyn last year. He has previously hosted Call of Duty, Fortnite and Halo tournaments, but he has now made Overwatch his home. His heroes include WWE legends Jim Ross and Michael Cole, and he brings a similar energy to esports. He was a former social worker in New York, and his fame soared following a Twitch clip that saw him realise his dream of becoming a professional esports announcer.
Mosaad “Msdossary” Aldossary
Twenty million people entered the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 and Saudi Arabian star Msdossary ultimately finished top of the pile. His reward was a six-figure first prize and trip to the FIFA Best ceremony in London, where he mingled with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric, bringing traditional sports and esports together in glorious fashion. He is now a legend in Saudi Arabia and he remains one of the world’s best FIFA players.
Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm
Reigning Streamer of the Year Dr Disrespect is famous for his zinging one-liners and sharp wit. He is also a brilliant practitioner of battle royale titles and first-person shooters, and that makes him a veritable goldmine within the streaming community. The moustachioed, mullet-sporting 6ft 8ins gamer is as colourful as they come, he has more than 3.5 million Twich followers and he has earned a great deal of fame by preaching violence, speed and momentum.
Salehi “KuroKy” Takhasomi
Team Liquid’s Dota 2 captain is the highest earning esports star of all time thanks to his exploits at The International. He led his team to victory in 2017 and a 4th place finish last year, and he is also the first player to reach 1,000 wins within his pro Dota 2 career. He is the most famous Dota 2 player in the world and he will go down as a true titan of the esports scene.