The coronavirus pandemic stopped the sport in 2020, which had to readapt to return to stages without an audience or with very limited capacity. However, there was one that found the way not to stop on online platforms: chess. And there, the standout man was the Norwegian grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, who ultimately ended up becoming the eSports player who made the most money.
The number one in the world ranking since July 2001 and world champion at a classical pace since November 2013 accumulated $ 510,587 for his online victories at Chess24, a site with which he also partnered to create the Magnus Carlsen Invitational in May, in the midst of a pandemic and long before chess was live again.
“When people think of esportsThey 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 several years, helping to raise the profile of the sport. It’s great to see a sport like chess take center stage in this way“remarked a Unikrn spokesperson through a statement.
With Magnus Carlsen at the helm of the most important online chess tournament in history.
Of course, its irruption in online chess is not new or because of a pandemic. The Norwegian chess player began dabbling in early 2017 under the pseudonym Dr. Nykterstein (nykter is “sober” in Norwegian) or Dr. Drunkenstein (translated as drunken Frankenstein), with whom he drove amateurs and professionals crazy who did not know that the rival was Carlsen.
While he made money, 2020 was not an easy year for esports either. According to an investigation by esports bookmaker Unikrn, based in Seattle, and reported by the Magazine Forbes, the earnings of the top 50 esports players dropped by 80%, from $ 55 million in 2019 to $ 11 million in 2020, primarily because most games reduced their payouts.
That classification that Carlsen leads also has other chess players, such as the American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, who was placed in the top 10, and two other Chess 24 players. , Nakamura right now is my main competitor “, admitted the Norwegian in a recent interview with the Spanish magazine XL Semanal.
According Forbes, “The biggest victim of the budget cuts was Fortnite, which offered almost 90% less prize money,” presenting “just $ 7,884,451 in 2020, compared to $ 71,598,129 in 2019.” Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, meanwhile, “provided the largest sum: $ 15.8 million, with 34 players earning more than $ 100,000 each,” while “Call of Duty helped two-thirds of the top 15 win. earn a living”.
Furthermore, statistics collected by Unikrn show that the average age of a top 50 player was 23 years old. Seven teens also made the list, among whom they earned $ 1.7 million.