Photo Jay Caboz.
  • South Africans earned R3.78 million playing formal esports in 2018 – not counting sponsorships.
  • SA's top prize-money earners were a 16-year-old from Johannesburg and a 19-year-old student playing FIFA 18.
  • The top earner in the world is DOTA 2 player Jese Vainikka – who walked home with R33.2 million. 

South Africans earned a whopping R3.78 million in prize money playing formal esports in 2018, according to data from that tracks international esports prize pools, players and games.  

That is up by R240,000 from 2017’s prize pool number, and 2016’s R2.81 million, as prizes continue to arise alongside interest in professional esports.

Between them, South Africa's top 10 gamers earned R2.6 million for the year.

Among the top earners this year was a 16-year-old from Johannesburg and a 19-year-old student.

See also: This video game is turning teenagers into millionaires — and it's on track to pay out more than R900 million this year

Both Thabo “Yvng Savage” Moloi (16) and Shiaan Rugbeer (19) walked away with R400,000 after winning the PS4 and Xbox segments respectively of the VS Gaming Festival FIFA 18 tournament, making them the top-earning esports players in South Africa for 2018.

South Africa's top earners.


The top-earners list for South Africa also feature some stalwarts of SA esports, with Counter Strike: Global Offensive players from Bravado Gaming as well as Energy Esports.   

Bravado Gaming moved to America earlier this year to compete on the international stage and have steadily increased their rankings with good results, putting South Africa on the map on as as international contenders.  

Both teams competed in the DreamHack Mumbai Invitational 2018, with Bravado coming home with first place and R310,000 in prize money.

Internationally, the top 10 players of 2018 all came home with a minimum of $1 million. 

2018 top earning players.
Jay Caboz

The top earner is DOTA 2 player Jese Vainikka who walked home with R33.2 million – just in prize money. ('s lists do not include salaries or endorsements.)

These are the most highly ranked games.

2019 could prove to be an even bigger year for South African esports.

Prepaid cellphone product and service company Smartcall announced it will be investing R10 million into Mettlestate in a bid to drive growth within the South African gaming and esports industry.

A big focus for the year will be increasing the appeal of esport – a very male-dominated world – to women. 

Watch: China’s billion-rand esports industry is increasingly dominated by women

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