Wesley So emerges as 12th highest esports earner in 2020

Published January 16, 2021, 3:12 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

Chess has been on a steady rise in this coronavirus-stricken era and a great proof of that is the inclusion of Grandmaster Wesley So along with other world’s leading chess players in the list of top esports earners in 2020. 

So, the No. 1 player of the Philippines before he switched allegiance to the USA in 2014, pocketed a total of $246,180 (over P11.8 million) to emerge as the 12th highest esports earner last year, according to a recent research done by the US-based esports bookmaker Unikrn. 

Read: GM Wesley So gets direct invite to $1.2M Grand Chess Tour

The bulk of the Cavite-born woodpusher’s earnings came from regaining the US Chess Championships trophy ($40,000), winning the Clutch Chess Champions Showdown ($40,000) and the Skilling Open ($30,000), and sharing the top spot with Magnus Carlsen in the Saint Louis Rapid Blitz Championship ($45,000). 

Surprisingly, Carlsen topped the list with $510,587 (over P24.5 million), eclipsing the players of Dallas Empire who won the Call of Duty League Championship 2020 with a $1.5 million prize. 

Aside from tournament prizes, Carlsen, the reigning world classical, rapid and blitz champion, has been raking in money through his livestream in chess24.com, an Oslo-based company backed by the 30-year-old Norwegian himself. 

So’s fellow US standout Hikaru Nakamura is at No. 7 with $324,645 (over P15.5 million). 

Same with Carlsen, Nakamura is also earning through his active online presence particularly in the popular live streaming platform Twitch. 

The three chess players were joined in the list by professional gamers in Dota 2, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG),  Starcraft 2, Hearthstone and Rainbow Six Siege. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has put over-the-board chess tournaments on an indefinite pause and forced the world’s top players to compete online.