People are still getting used to the idea of professional gaming. The fact that playing video games can be pursued as a career choice is still lost on a lot of people, but electronic gaming is rapidly growing as a competitive industry. This begs the question of who are the top Esports players to date?
Competitive gaming, or Esports as it is currently known, has come a long way since 1972, when the first known video game competition was organized (a Spacewar contest organized at the Stanford University campus). Now it has a global infrastructure with sponsors, leagues, teams, and fans.
Below is a list of players who have dominated the Esports scene in their respective times. They specialized in different titles at different time points, but all of them had identical impacts on the overall Esports culture that made them legends of the game. Without further ado, here’s our list of top 5 Esports players of all time-
5. Ivan Shinkarev aka ‘’Vigoss’’
Ivan Shinkarev is the player responsible for Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) becoming a top tier Esports title. The Russian, better known as ‘’Vigoss’’, broke into the scene in 2005 with a host of local tournament victories. The following year, Shinkarev rose to global stardom with his team Vitrus Pro. With his lightning fast responses and unreal prediction skills, Shinkarev was the driving force in Vitrus Pro’s international success. Shinkarev’s huge fan following in China made DOTA explode with popularity in the world’s largest population, which in turn paved the way for the game to become a worldwide phenomenon.
4. Tomo Ohira
If you’re a 90s kid, chances are you lined up in the arcades to play some Street Fighter. The game was the number one arcade game at the time and a California kid named Tomo Ohira was the first gamer who mastered it like a pro. Tomo’s reputation as the Street Fighter King became widespread when he graced the cover of the famous GamesPro magazine. Ohira had to retire at 17, given the lack of career opportunities back then, but his legacy continues to inspire the modern day Street Fighter professionals.
3. Daigo Umehara aka “The Beast”
Tomo Ohira is a Street Fighter legend but was he good enough at his prime to outsmart Daigo Umehara? Even though we’d never get to know the answer because of Ohira’s early retirement, most people believe Umehara is even better than the very first Street Fighter king. Guinness recognized “The Beast” as the most successful Street Fighter player in major tournaments. His 2004 triumph over Justin Wong is one of the definitive moments in Esports history when Umehara survived an onslaught of attacks to win the match, despite having only one hit left (see below).
2. Jonathan Wendel aka Fatal1ty
Jonathan Wendel was the LeBron James of American Esports. To this day, Wendel remains the most influential US Esports professional ever, having appeared in publications like the New York Times, Forbes and Times magazine. He was also the first Esports player to come up with his own brand. Wendel started his Esports career in 1999 and won 5 World Championships before retiring his controllers in 2007. The Quake specialist amassed a whopping $454,000 worth of prize money during his career, which was the all time highest sum earned by an ESports professional until 2013.
1. Lee Sang-hyeok aka ‘’Faker’’
League of Legends is a popular pick among Esports professionals. In fact, it’s the largest Esports title there is. With so many players playing the game, it’s understandable that there will be cutthroat competition. But when Lee Sang-hyeok plays it, it seems quite straightforward. The South Korean has been dominating the global League of Legend stage ever since he started playing professionally in 2013. Faker is only one of two players in Esports history to have won two League of Legends world championships. He is also the only Esports professional to be featured on the cover of ESPN magazine.
Let us know who you think belongs on this list in the comments below!