When esports players first started to receive six-figure salaries, there were many headlines announcing the absurd development. Nowadays, a six-figure esports salary isn’t very worthy of an article. Time has passed and now, people think differently about the salaries of esports players. Multiple hundred thousands of dollars are not even a big deal anymore.
Just as the salary of players has changed, the size of the esports industry has grown drastically as well. According to the Korea Creative Content Agency, the size of the Korean esports industry has grown by more than 50% from 2014 to 2017.
LCK Average Salary175M Won (≒ 155K USD)
The most popular esport around the world is League of Legends. Among the Korean esports organizations, the budget in 2018 for League of Legends teams was 68.2%. The number of players was near the top with 140 players which took up more than 30% of the total esports players.
PLAYERUNKNOWN’s BATTLEGROUNDS was at the top for the number of players with 148, but this was because of the rather unique game style which has 64 players playing in one game. The number of Overwatch players also as quite high with 92 players.
The core of the esports industry was still League of Legends. The most money has been invested in LoL and the LCK has been known as the best league worldwide for many years. According to a survey conducted in 2018 with 82 LCK players, the average salary was around 170M Korean Won (≒155K USD). However, the salary of the top players of the league raised the average drastically; more than half of the players’ salaries were less than 100M Won (≒89K USD). The salary of 37.2% of the players was at 20M-50M Won (≒18K-44K USD) and there were 25.6% at 50M-100M Won (≒44K-89K USD).
Fortunately, the income for the players outside their salary was quite high. According to the statistics from 2017, only 8.9% of the players had no income aside from their salary. Many players earned from 20M up to 200M Won (≒18K-180K USD) per year on the side.
Non-salary income was mainly from prize money, streaming, broadcasts, and events. Compared to other sources, the number of players getting a personal sponsorship was very low at 8.9%. While traditional sports players sign personal sponsorship contracts with massive sports brands like Adidas or Nike, there weren’t as many chances for esports players yet. It was anticipated that the side income would be higher in 2018. Streaming industry sites such as Twitch or Youtube have been on the rise and are continuing to grow.
LCK Average AgeExtremely Young LCK Players -- Average Age of 20.8
The LCK players are very young. In 2017, the average age was 20.8. 19.6% of the players were 22 years old, and 17.6% was 20. Comparably, there were only 9.8% of the players that were 23 years old. It is said that the players’ prowess starts to decline already during their mid-twenties; there were zero pro players that were in the late-twenties in 2017.
Since the average age is extremely young, the average career/experience was low at 2.8 years. 53% of the players had less than 3 years of experience in the scene and only 3.9% of the players had 4-5 years. According to the data, most of the players have a hard time getting past their 4th-5th year.