When it comes to traditional sports, natural differences in physical ability have lead to discrimination between the sexes. To be good at video games does not require dense muscles and bones, so there are no reasonable grounds for discrimination. It’s about cognitive ability. In spite of this, it’s taken a while for women to invest in video games. There is not one reason solely responsible for this, of course. Some of you might remember the lobbies of Modern Warfare 2 but do you remember many (if any) female voices? But, who can blame them for staying away from that sort of corrosive chaos? As video games have grown and become more prevalent, more girls have gained access to them. Whatever the case, women now have a significant presence in gaming.
Significant presence in eSports naturally follows. But, how do you objectively measure the skill of a player, male or female? Evidence works. The best evidence for traditional sports comes in the form of trophies and medals. But, with eSports, there is less focus on the tangible rewards and more favor given to the intangible—monetary rewards. Competing for money is one of the core engines of this eSports global business machine. The mark of achievement in the gaming world is money. Logically, a player that’s won more money than another can be determined as more skillful than the other. And by this logic, we can measure and find the top players of all women.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike
Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter X Tekken
Super Street Fighter IV
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Ultra Street Fighter IV
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
League of Legends
Scarlett – Sasha Hostyn
$332,066.27 makes for the highest-earning of any woman in eSports, almost triple the second-highest. The beginnings of Hostyn’s career can be traced back to April 2011. She competed in an online female-only StarCraft II league, the NESL Iron Lady. She won the tournaments twice in a row that year. The next year, Hostyn won the Playhem “Sponsor Me!” Tournament. This victory afforded her a trip to Las Vegas where she had her breakthrough in the IPL 4 open qualifiers. She rampaged through the StarCraft II World Championship Series Canada later that same year. Her final opponent was beaten in the Grand Finals, causing Hostyn to become Canada’s national champion with an outstanding record of 12-1. She won the 2012 WCS North American Championship with the same record. That victory earned her $24,000 which is second only to last year’s IEM XII – PyeongChang which earned her $50,000. The Zerg player has throughout her career competed in 178 tournaments.
Mystik – Katherine Gunn
A blast from the past, those of us that Remember Reach should know the woman who mastered it. The earliest record of Gunn’s competitive gaming career dates back to the CGS 2007 competition. She played Dead or Alive 4, a fighting game of the arcade-style genre, and finished in second place. That placement earned her $15,000. The next year, she competed in the same tournament but fell-short of her previous performance. Gunn came away with $7,000 and a third-place finish. Perhaps disheartened, she did not take part in any competitions till the release of Bungie’s ‘thank you and farewell’ title, Halo Reach. Due to her casting in the second season of WCG Ultimate Gamer, Gunn received a copy of the game months before its release, as did her competition. Untold hours of practice went into the skills that enabled Gunn to be the first to fifteen kills thereby winning the competition for $100,000.
Ortiz first began identifying as a female in 2014. Her area of expertise surrounds fighting games. The earliest competition that she took part in was the Evo 2006. Ortiz played Capcom vs. SNK 2 and finished in second place, earning $2,000. She has since played in over sixty tournaments and earned a total of $80,780.18! By far, the competition that has awarded Ortiz the most was the Capcom Cup 2016—the game: Street Fighter V. Her second-place finish won her $60,000. Her consistent results attracted the attention of the American eSports Organization, Evil Geniuses, and in 2010 the organization sponsored her. She represents them to this day.
Kasumi Chan – Marjorie Bartell
Bartell is another American fighting game player like Ortiz. In 2006, she was the runner-up for a CGI competition featuring the title Dead or Alive 4. That placement earned $5,000. Her career was propelled by her affiliation with Chicago Chimera, an organization that she represented during her biggest win. She blazed through her competition in the CGS 2007 and came out on top, winning $50,000 in prize money. That is 90.91% of her total earnings. She has not competed since despite the increase in both money and female gamers. Both of the tournaments that she participated in were offline. If it’s at all unclear how skilled this player was, she’s known as the very first female gamer to get to the finals in the Championship Gaming Invitational.
Sarah Lou – Sarah Harrison
The trend suggests that Dead or Alive 4 laid the foundation for some of the highest paid women in gaming. Harrison certainly is one of them, as she played the game well enough to place first at the CGS 2008. Her knockout performance at that tournament earned her $50,000. She has not participated in other tournaments since. She is the only woman from the United Kingdom to make this list. Harrison chose to play the fighting game because of the straightforwardness of it and the relatively simplistic nature. It took a lot of practice to hone her skills and she practiced regularly before winning that one tournament.
vilga – Ksenia Klyuenkova
Klyuenkova has earned a total of $45,804.95 from twenty-seven tournaments. Her career in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive glitters with gold. She has scored the gold in seventeen tournaments which demonstrates her uncanny ability. These past few years, in particular, have been noteworthy. The highest amount she ever took home from a single tournament is $20,000 which she received from winning the WESG 2017 (CS:GO Female). Most of her prize money has been won from offline competitions. Klyuenkova has been a member of several different teams including: Bad Monkey Gaming, Russian National Team, Team Secret, Counter Logic Gaming, and Besiktas e-Sports Club. Currently, she is a member of the European squad ‘Assassins.’ And she’s not done yet, there’s more money to be made in her career.
zAAz – Zainab Turkie
Turkie has been in the game for a long time, she’s a hardcore veteran. She has been a professional Counter-Strike player since 2002. She joined her first Counter-Strike club at fourteen years old. Today, almost twenty years later, she plays for the Besiktas eSports team. A Swedish player, Turkie has earned a total of $43,201.43 in prize money. She has competed in thirty-two tournaments, and her career has moved with the whole world of eSports. In other words, recent years have seen more money for Turkie than prior years. In July 2018, she joined Besiktas e-Sports. She has also been a member of organizations such as Alternate aTTaX and Fnatic, both famous for their stacked player pools.
Ant1ka – Anna Ananikova
This gamer is a decorated CS:GO player. She has been on teams like Team Secret, Lazarus, Counter Logic Gaming, and the Russian National Team (for which she has earned the most money; 50%). The highest amount she has earned for a single competition is $20,000. Now, she has not participated in very many cash-awarding tournaments—only fourteen—but her skill in the game has nonetheless been recognized. There is clearly some real talent. Much of her success arose from her membership in Team Secret. Ananikova won her first Minor tournament with this team during the 2016 eSports World Convention.
xchocobars – Janet Rose
Rose is a Canadian player who has earned so much in so little time. She has played Apex Legends, Fortnite, League of Legends, and Teamfight Tactics. One of Rose‘s greatest accomplishments was winning first place at Twitch Rivals 2019, playing League of Legends. The prize for that victory was $7,000. After that, she finished in second place for the Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series – Club Standings. This earned her $10,000. However, her largest prize came on the sixth week of the Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series: $13,750. In all of her career, she has won $39,100 from ten tournaments. She has a large Twitch following and her streaming has driven much of her career. It’s interesting to see this contrast between women who had their start from games like Dead or Alive 4 or CS:GO and Fortnite.
juliano – Julia Kiran
$38,934.23, that’s how much Kiran has earned from twenty-eight tournaments. She is a Swedish gamer who had her start with Counter-Strike 1.6 and transitioned to CS:GO. Additionally, she has also played Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth. At the ESWC 2013, Kiran’s team Druidz beat another female team, ALTERNATE, in the grand finals. This propelled her career, a career with eighteen gold medals. The highest she ever got from a single tournament was $10,000 from the DreamHack Showdown Valencia 2019. Apart from the Swedish National Team, Kiran has been a member of Bad Monkey Gaming, Besiktas e-Sports Club, Counter Logic Gaming, and Team Secret.
While some have moved on from gaming, many on this list have sustained their careers through streaming. For some, like Gunn, the passion in games is apparent. Others might be more inclined to be after monetary value. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that these women are highly-skilled. The evidence is there to support this, as we have seen. Furthermore, the future will hold even more successful women in eSports!
Interested in our other Top 10’s? Check out our article on the Top 10 League of Legends players, Dota 2 players, StarCraft II players. Also, our Top 10 Fortnite players and CS:GO players. One that is particularly interesting, if interested in learning how women like these ten have won so much money, is our Top 10 prize pools. It’s always intriguing and satisfying to see the best of a certain area, whether its the best athletes or the best stadiums and so on. As for the top players, it’s good to know who they are because you can learn from them and follow in the same successful footsteps.