The year 2019 has been a monumental one for the esports industry in many ways. We got to see the birth of new esports teams, the arrival of new esports titles in the competitive scene, but most importantly, 2019 had the most esports tournaments (4583) than any year before, which saw over US $214,000,000 in prize money handed out to players and organizations.
With a lot of tournaments and massive amounts of money being handed out to the best teams and individuals, there were a few which stood out from the rest and earned themselves a spot among the top 10 best-paid esports teams of 2019. Here is the list of those teams based on information provided by esportsearnings.com and the teams themselves.
10. FaZe Clan ($3.166 million)
A well-known team in the Call of Duty and CS:GO scene, FaZe have found themselves at the 10th spot of our list, not because of their success in the FPS titles, but rather the contribution of their battle royale players.
Just over one-third of FaZe Clan's 2019 earnings ($1.1 million) came from PUBG, where FaZe claimed three tournament titles and finished second at PUBG Global Championship. With a slightly lower total winning ($964,000) comes FaZe's Fortnite team, while the combined earnings of their Call of Duty and CS:GO teams comes to about $894,000.
Known for being one of the iconic teams in the Call of Duty scene for almost a decade, the newly formed FaZe Atlanta will compete in the upcoming 2020 Call of Duty League, where they will aim to pocket the largest slice of mouth-watering $6,000,000 prize pool, leading us to believe we can expect for FaZe to return to the top 10 list next year as well.
9. Sentinels ($3.26 million)
Sentinels made their way on the list solely due to Fortnite and Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf himself.
At only 16-years of age, Bugha has become the Fortnite World Champion earlier in July, which earned him a staggering $3.000.000, making him one of many young esports millionaires.
His achievement also won him the title of Esports PC Player of the Year and Esports PC Rookie Player of the Year at the Esports Awards ceremony which took place earlier in November.
Seeing how Sentinels ended the year as one of the top 10 teams in prize winnings solely due to the performance of one of their players only goes to show how massive Fortnite and its competitive scene has become.
8. Team Secret ($3.31 million)
Team Secret is a global esports organization, mostly known for their Dota 2 roster, which also earned Team Secret the largest chunk of their $3.31 million winnings throughout the year.
Team Secret’s Dota 2 roster earned $3.10 million throughout the 2018/19 DPC season, with $2,059,800 solely from their fourth-place finish at The International 2019. The team also won two majors, which combined $700,000.
That being said, Team Secret also fields teams and players in Age of Empires 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Vainglory and PUBG Mobile, who earned a combined total of $213,000 in 2019.
Earlier in November 2019, Team Secret announced they will field a new CS:GO roster in 2020, in a bid to further extend their already impressive portfolio of teams.
7. Gen.G ($3.45 million)
While Team Secret made most of their money via Dota 2 events, Gen.G were making waves in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds scene, where they won three major tournaments including PUBG World Global Championship 2019, which netted them $2.283 million.
Heading into 2020, Gen.G also announced their first CS:GO roster, which will compete in North American CS:GO scene. The roster, while not yet established, does hold a lot of potential, and we can expect Gen.G to appear higher up the list comes December 2020, especially considering they also field two strong teams in Overwatch (Seoul Dynasty) and League of Legends (Gen.G).
6. Cooler Esports ($3.51 million)
Cooler Esports are one of the lesser-known esports organizations in the scene, but much like it was the case with Sentinels, Cooler Esports made their way on the list solely due to the success of their Fortnite players.
Their two members Emil “nyhrox” Bergquist and David “aqua” Wang won the Fortnite World Cup Finals - Duo event which earned them a grand total $3 million. Their World Cup winnings alone made up slightly over 85% of Cooler Esports 2019 winnings.
5. PSG.LGD ($3.54 million)
PSG.LGD are another esports organization, which has made a name for themselves in Dota 2 professional scene. Their Dota 2 roster has been a force to be reckoned with for years and has finished this season third in The International 2019, which earned them slightly over $3 million.
The same team also won several other tournaments throughout the season, earning a grand total of $3.4 million as reported by the team. Due to it being a team owned by French football giants Paris Saint-Germain, it should not come off as a surprise PSG.LGD also has player involved in FIFA. While less successful than their Dota 2 counterparts, the PSG.LGD FIFA players earned just around $34,000 this year.
4. Lazarus ($4.22 million)
Unlike some other esports organizations, Lazarus used a business model which diversified their investment in several smaller esports titles and it seems like that decision was a right one, as it earned the former SetToDestroyX organization just over $4.2 million.
That being said, their biggest payday came from Fortnite World Cup, where they had six players involved, two of which came in clutch and won big.
Their Fortnite tandem Wolfiez and Rojo finished Fortnite World Cup - Duos at an impressive second place which earned them $2,250,000, while Jordan "Crimz" Herzog and Zach "Spades" Gifford claimed a 17th place and $100,000 in prize money.
Adding to their $2.35 million winnings in the Fortnite World Cup, Lazarus' Fortnite team also enjoyed success in other tournaments, adding another $1.3 million to the pot.
Heading into 2020, Lazarus will also count on their Hearthstone, PUBG and CS:GO roster among others, meaning we could be seeing a lot more of the Canadian organization in the future.
3. NRG Esports ($5.28 million)
After ending year 2018 with slightly under $1 million ($945,000), NRG Esports rose to the third spot with over $5 million in tournament winnings from their players and teams.
Just like it was the case with several teams on this list, the largest slice of their total winnings came from their Fortnite team, which earned $2.85 million. Their Overwatch squad (San Francisco Shock) added another $1.5 million by winning the Overwatch League in 2019, while their (former) CS:GO roster contributed $386,000 in the pot.
Another big payday came from NRG's Rocket League squad, which earned a grand total of $379,000 while their Apex Legends squad earned $124,000.
Boasting with some of the strongest teams and individuals in the esports scene, we can be sure NRG will be making their way back to the list next year, especially considering their Apex Legends squad will be competing in a $3 million Apex Legends Global Series in 2020, while, their newly acquired Call of Duty team (Chicago Huntsmen) will compete for $6 million in the inaugural Call of Duty League next year.
2. Team Liquid ($9.40 million)
Team Liquid reclaimed the number two spot, which they already occupied at the end of the last year, when they earned $6.69 million. This year, however, the North American esports organization earned a staggering 9.40 million, just $600,000 shy of breaking the eight-figure mark.
Out of all the teams on the list, Team Liquid without a doubt has one of the most diverse portfolios when it comes to their esports teams, yet it was their Dota 2, CS:GO, League of Legends and Fortnite, teams which saw the most success in 2019.
Their Dota 2 team contributed $5.08 million to the Team Liquid's pot with $4,462,908 alone coming from their second-place finish at The International 2019. Another big contributor was their CS:GO roster, which won an impressive $2.31 million in 2019.
Team Liquid's League of Legends team added another $455,000, while their Fortnite player River "Riversan" Handley earned $300,000 with his ninth-place finish at Fortnite World Cup - Solo.
1. OG ($15.84 million)
It was a massive year for OG, who once again claimed the number one spot on the list of the biggest earners of the year. Seeing them at the top once more should not come off as a surprise to anyone, considering their Dota 2 won their second consecutive International title earlier in August.
OG's Dota 2 roster pocketed $15,620,181 for their performance at the best-paid esports event in history, which was more or less all of the organization's winnings. OG also has a team that competes in Super Smash Bros, which contributed $900 to the pot.
It was the second year in a row OG ended the year as the best-paid team, and it was the second year in a row they did so due to the success of their Dota 2 team. Heading into 2020, OG has also fielded a CS:GO roster, and while it's not realistic to expect them to contribute $15 million by the end of 2020, we can be sure OG will make a return on the next year's list.