How Much Do CS:GO Players Earn?

CS:GO has been around for 10 years. The game itself evolved in many ways and thus became one of the most popular Esports games in the world. Many players advanced to the professional level, and they now compete in tournaments worldwide. But the real question is, how much do professional CS:GO players actually earn? Apart from stream donations, what is their actual salary?

Life of a CS:GO Professional

It is not common knowledge, but money earned from prize pools does not go directly to the players. Instead, it goes to the organization, and players only get a cut of it. However, every player has a fixed salary, so we can consider this as a full-time job. After all, it is a full-time job as every professional player spends at least 8 hours a day training and learning new tactics. It may sound weird, but to them, this is no fun; it is their job. They are real athletes, and top-tier players even have physical training like cardio and gym training. With the amount of money revolving around CS:GO industry and people placing thousands of CS:GO bets each day on platforms like Rivalry, it is impossible for them to be any different. They must constantly be on a top-tier level! If they fail to do so, their team will eventually replace them with someone who is better, just like it is in every other traditional sport.

Professional CS:GO Players’ Salary

When it comes to the salary, not a single CS:GO team does not disclose that information. It is not a piece of public knowledge, so it is barely impossible to know how much do they actually earn. Their earnings are solely based on guesses and speculations. However, some of them occasionally tell a thing or two during their Twitch streams. Just recently, a British professional Counter-Strike player Owen “smooya” Butterfield revealed how much do his colleagues actually earn. He said that top 10 players in the world earn a little bit more than $40,000 USD per month. This includes players like Mathieu ”Zyw0o” Herbaut, Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov, Ismailcan “XANTARES” Dortkardes, and other players on a similar level. On the other side, top-tier star players like Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Nikola “NiKo” Kovac earn more than $50,000 USD every month.

Other Tier 1 players earn from $15,000 USD to $20,000 USD per month, depending on player performance and the team they play on. Of course, North American and Western European teams pay more solely because they can attract better sponsorship deals.

As for the Tier 2 teams, they earn around $5000 USD per month, which is still a good salary. This includes teams that compete in low-tier offline tournaments and occasionally go to big events. Tier 3 teams usually play only online tournaments, and they do not have any organization behind them, which basically means that they do not have salaries.

They earn what they win from prize pools and maybe some sponsorship deals if they manage to get one. But it is hard to get one. One of those teams that made it big and managed to get qualified for StarLadder Major Berlin 2019 was CR4ZY. The team had to sign a sponsorship, so they found a local internet Caffe in Berlin and signed a sponsorship deal worth only 37€, just for the sake of it. It is hard to find sponsorship deals for small unpopular teams. The team produced great players like nexa and huNter- but they all went to bigger organizations after the Major. Nexa currently plays for OG while hunter- is in G2. It is hard for any small team to succeed on the scene without someone to back them up.

Bonuses & Other Rewards

Every player has a unique contract with his team. The terms of those contracts are also hidden from the public, so we can’t know exactly how much money every individual player earns through sponsorship deals and winnings in tournaments. However, there is an annual event called Intel Grand Slam. It features a prize of $1,000,000 USD to the first team that wins four S-Tier events organized by ESL during a window of 10 consecutive tournaments, including IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne, and CS:GO Major events. Unlike other tournaments, the prize from Intel Grand Slam goes directly to the players. There is even a spoil bonus of $100,000 USD for any team that denies another team from their final victory towards the Intel Grand Slam by defeating them in their fourth Grand Finals. So far, in the 4 seasons we had, not a single team managed to get that spoil bonus. It is there, but if someone has a momentum, it is hard to stop them.

Astralis won Season 1, Team Liquid won Season 2, and Natus Vincere won in Season 3. In the current season, FaZe has 3 wins and needs to win one more to get their first Intel Grand Slam trophy. They have 6 remaining chances to do so. Both Cloud9 and Team Vitaly have 1 win, and they need 3 more, which is barely impossible, at least for Vitality. The next big ESL event FaZe competes at is ESL Pro League Season 16, and it will be interesting to see if they can triumph there. If they don’t, they will have to win a Major in Rio or wait for the next year.

Interesting fact, back when Astralis won Intel Grand Slam Season 1, they were the best CS:GO team in the world for three years straight (2018, 2019, and 2020). They also became the first team to win three consecutive Majors ever. But what does this have to do with money earnings? Well, at that time, Astralis was partially owned by players. Every player on the roster had a special contract that guaranteed him 90% of all the money from tournament earnings. With that in mind, we can surely say that every single player from Astralis became a millionaire in that period.

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