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Chess champion becomes highest-earning esports player of 2020

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The top-paying game was an incredible $15m

A chess world champion has been revealed as the highest-earning esports player of 2020, as reported by Unikrn.

Magnus Carlsen, a 30-year-old Norwegian chess champion, reportedly took home $511,000 (£373,666) in prize money from his wins on Chess24 last year. This figure is higher than any other esports professional across all games.

Of the top 50 highest earners in esports, four had made their money through Chess24. Call of Duty, DOTA 2, and Rainbow Six Seige also appeared frequently on the list.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive did not create any top earners, but was the game with the highest prize money in 2020, offering a total of $15,808,057 (£11,559,562) across the year.

The statistics compiled by Unikrn show that the average age of a top 50 player was 23 years old. Seven teenagers also appeared on the list, bringing home over $1.7 million (£1,243,116) collectively.

The data also depicted a sharp fall in the total prize money available to esports professionals, dropping from $55 million (£40,218,475) to $11 million (£8,043,695) in just one year.

A spokesperson for Unikrn said in a press release: “When people think of esports, they probably have the likes of CS:GO, DOTA or League of Legends in mind, but not necessarily chess.

“Magnus Carlsen is a fantastic champion and has dominated the circuit for a number of years, helping raise the profile of the sport. It’s great to see an esport such as chess come to prominence in this way.”

The statement added: “From our data, it can be seen how much the pandemic has affected esports prize money, dropping by 80% from 2019 to 2020.

“That said, it’s encouraging to see players still profiting from big tournaments around the world with organisers doing everything they can to put on the best shows possible for fans.”

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