21st March, 2017
Have you ever considered becoming a professional LoL player? League of Legends is currently the most popular game in the world with over 100 million active monthly players, a lot of gamers make a living from it, and you could be one of them!
Like any eSport there are always pro players that make a career out of playing, but just how much can a LoL Pro player earn?
There are several ways a professional LoL pro player can earn money, from streaming revenue to salaries from Riot; we’ll be exploring all the different ways. Hopefully, you can pick up a few tips and maybe you’ll be able to make a living from playing League of Legends!
Let's take a look at the different income streams a professional player has. First, let's take a look at the salaries from Riot.
In accordance to the Riot rule book for professional players, each team must pay the required minimum player compensation to its starting players. This compensation is currently $12,500 per starting player, per split, but the players won't see all of this.
Riot gives each team a set amount of money to provide salaries and help with operating expenses. As this is the legal minimum the teams themselves can also add their own salaries on top. Players from more established teams are likely to have higher salaries as they are more important and skilled players compared to newer teams.
More established teams also usually have larger sponsors such as HyperX and Corsair, which are able to provide funds to further increase players salaries substantially, attracting the big name players.
So what does this all mean for a LoL pro players earnings? Well to give you an idea of the numbers, a LoL pro player can easily earn $30k just from their salary alone, but this depends on the team and the player's experience.
Depending on the experience and success of the team, prize money from tournaments can be a major factor for how much a player earns.
In the 2016 LCS World Championship the main prize was $2.68 million and was split between all members of SK Telecom T1. From doing the maths, this equates to around $536,000 per player on the team but if you include subs and coaches, then it’s considerably lower. The second-place prize pool was $1 million and was split between the 5 members of Samsung Galaxy, each receiving $200k.
Obviously, the better the team the more likely they are to win prize money from tournaments so yearly earnings from prize money can fluctuate significantly. It's also not as simple as you'd think - the teams will take a cut of the winnings so the players don't get all of the money.
To give you an idea of numbers, the popular mid laner Faker made $418,365 in 2016 just from prize money alone. Compare this to the mid laner Bjergsen from Team SoloMid, in 2016 he made $41,815 from tournaments, a considerable difference. It’s clear that top players in world class teams get more money from winning tournaments while lesser teams rely on other means of income.
A lot of LoL pro players have their own personal Twitch streams that allows viewers to watch them while they practice. Streaming can be a major earner for LoL pro players due to the multiple revenue streams available. Here’s how pro players generate income from their live streams.
While streaming, streamers have the ability to broadcast adverts to their viewers. Every time an advert is displayed the streamer earns $1 - $3.5 per 1000 views of that ad.
The standard split from Twitch is 50/50 but higher splits can be negotiated over time. The revenue per ad can vary as some ads are only displayed to certain regions, devices or time schedules. An even greater influence is the number of users that use ad blockers, every viewer that uses an ad blocker doesn't count as a view. This can seriously affect the revenue from a streamers stream.
To give you an idea of numbers, LoL pro player Bjergsen averaged 27,050 viewers in December 2016. Based on around 5 ads a day to 27k viewers this would equate to over $300 a day and over $9k a month.
In 2011, Twitch began offering monthly subscriptions to partnered broadcasters. Viewers pay $4.99 a month to support the streamer, skip ads, and gain access to new emoticons and cosmetic changes in the chat.
There is currently a standard 50/50 split with some reports saying people that have over 1k subs will get 80% of the subscriber's fee. To give you an idea of numbers, in Autumn 2014 popular streamer Nightblue3 mentioned on stream he had 2,500 subscribers.
From doing the maths, this would equate to over $15k a month, not including any ad revenue, not bad for playing games all day!
Viewers of a stream can choose to donate any amount of money they want to a streamer. Most donations are usually less than $10 but it’s not rare on popular streams for some people to donate $100+.
These tips and donations are really hard to estimate and can depend on who is watching and how generous they feel. Adding up donations a popular streamer can expect to make over $1.5k a month just from donations alone. Out of all of the variables this is by far the hardest to estimate, some days viewers might donate $50 while other days some viewers might donate $500.
The final revenue stream a lot of LoL pro players use are affiliate links on their streams. These links are normally related to Amazon or G2A so players can buy gaming related items. For every sale the streamer gets they earn a certain percentage of juicy commission. Depending on the item and product these commissions can range from 1-10%. Traditionally commission rates are much lower for physical items compared to digital commissions.
Out of all the revenue streams this is probably the least popular as it's not that common for viewers to buy items while watching a stream. Popular streamers could expect to make an extra $200+ a month from having these links included on their stream.
So there we have it - all the different ways pro LoL players and you can make money through playing games.
The majority of pro players earnings come from winning prizes at tournaments while lesser known players make their majority from streaming. A player's yearly salary can fluctuate massively depending on how many tournaments they win and how successful their team is.
To give you an idea of how much LoL pro players can earn, popular pro player Bjergsen is estimated to make $20-30k a month. This is a crazy amount of money to earn for anyone yet alone a 21 year old gamer!