Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.
The agora (Ancient Greek: Ἀγορά, Agorá) was a central spot in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city. In this case, “The Agora” will be a weekly editorial devoted to discussing hot topics in the world of eSports. The article is meant to stimulate discussion and any input towards the topic is encouraged.
Chris “HuK” Loranger
In the eSports world, the topic of player salaries has always been a controversial if not confidential discussion. For those of us on the outside, we have always speculated and wondered how much our favorite players are being paid. In fact, eSports giants such as Evil Geniuses and Quantic Gaming, both whom have acquired notable StarCraft 2 players, are rumored to pay their players large salaries. When Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger was signed to Evil Geniuses, many websites believed his salary was just under six figures. 1 Furthermore, in an episode of “The Executives”, EG CEO Alex Garfield stated he “wanted his players to have the best salaries in North America.” 2 There therefore seems to be some credibility and speculation towards high player earnings. This article details my own path towards these speculated player earnings, and outlines the potential figures of a StarCraft 2 player.
In order to examine player earnings, I will analyze player salaries, stream revenue, and tournament winnings through estimations and averages. The purpose of this article will not be to ask what is the highest amount a player can earn or how much a particular player earns in a year. Rather, the purpose of this article is to speculate how much a professional StarCraft 2 player could earn based upon the information the public has access to. Since public knowledge primarily surrounds an averages of player salaries, stream revenue, and tournament winnings, these figures will be examined.
In ”The Executives” episode #3 on Team Management, Jason Lake of compLexity, Michael O’Dell of Dignitas, and Victor Goossens of TeamLiquid speculated the average StarCraft 2 player salary could range from $500 to $1,000 a month. 3 However, both Jason Lake and Victor Goossens believed the original $500 to $1,000 a month salary was lower than expected. Therefore, I will use a $500 to $1,500 range. Below, I have assigned $500, $1,000, and $1,500 a month salaries to the letters A, B, and C. This assignment assumes A as a player has more value than B as a player, and B as a player has more value than C as a player.
To estimate A, B, and C player values from a streaming perspective, I have examined TeamLiquid’s ‘Top 50 Streamers in May of 2012.”4 Using these figures, I divided 50 by 3 to split the table in three separate portions. The first half I attributed to A, the second to B, and the third to C. I made this choice based upon the assumption a popular player would have more value to a team than a less popular player and they therefore would earn more money. In addition, I averaged streaming hours of every player to determine an average on the duration of a stream.
To determine stream revenue, I took TotalBiscuit’s $2 per 1,000 viewers per ad as stated in “The Executives” episode #4 5, and averaged it with Reddit’s rumor that Destiny was receiving $4 per 1,000 viewers per ad. Assuming each player runs approximately three ads every hour, I obtained the figures below.
Lastly, to determine player earnings from tournaments, I utilized data from SC2Earnings. Primarily, I focused on the Americas, Europe, and Oceania regions. I did not include Korea because I believed the GSL would inflate these figures due to their large prize pool. In addition, I focused on the year 2011, because I believed 2010 had an inflated prize pool and 2012 is still in progress.
Multiplying monthly salaries and stream revenue by twelve, and adding it to tournament winnings gives me the following figures.
Therefore, a high value player could potentially earn around $70,000 a year, whereas a lower value player could earn around $15,000 per year.
It is important to note that these figures are based purely off speculation, estimations and averages. There are a lot of problems with these numbers. First, there are many outliers in the realm of player salary. A player like HuK or Idra could earn a lot more than $1,500 a month. Similarly, a lower tier professional could only earn paid expenses and peripherals. Furthermore, I made the assumption that a player who is more valuable to an organization automatically receives a higher amount of stream followers than a player who is less valuable. Destiny of Root Gaming and NaDa (previously of compLexity) seem to directly contradict this assumption. In fact, I made this assumption once again in the realm of player earnings from tournament wins. It is important to note these speculations are not concrete and could vary greatly. This is because they are made from estimations, averages, and speculations. Their purpose is not to provide grounded answers, but rather to speculate through estimating and averaging how much a potential professional could earn.
Adam “pandabear” Briggs is an ex-competitive Counter-Strike player, rank one World of Warcraft player, and current Masters StarCraft 2 player. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and currently works at a public University, writing, reviewing, and modifying contracts and procurement documents. He writes on various eSports business topics with an emphasis on StarCraft 2.
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