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A 30 Year Old Norwegian Chess Champion Is the Highest Earning Esports Player of 2020

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  • Tip Bones

When young esports fans dream of making it big in competitive gaming they might be thinking about playing Overwatch or Super Smash Bros. They might be surprised to learn that chess is where the big bucks can be made. Magnus Carlsen took home a whopping $510,587 in prize money while playing on Chess24 in 2020 according to statistics compiled by Unikrn making him the highest-paid esports competitor of the previous year.

“When people think of esports, they probably have the likes of CS:GO, DOTA or League of Legends in mind, but not necessarily chess," said a spokesperson for Unikrn in a press release. “Magnus Carlsen is a fantastic champion and has dominated the circuit for a number of years, helping raise the profile of the sport. It’s great to see an esport such as chess come to prominence in this way.”

According to the statistics, four of the fifty highest esports earners in 2020 made their money by playing Chess24. While typical competitors for games like DOTA 2, Rainbow Six Siege, and Call of Duty also were on the list, a large shift in esports caused by COVID-19 may have lead to chess's sudden dominance on the prize charts.

“From our data, it can be seen how much the pandemic has affected esports prize money, dropping by 80% from 2019 to 2020," said the spokesperson for Unikrn. "That said, it’s encouraging to see players still profiting from big tournaments around the world with organizers doing everything they can to put on the best shows possible for fans.”

Magnus Carlsen is the highest-ranked FIDE chess player of all time and is the current World Chess Champion, World Rapid Chess Champion, and World Blitz Chess Champion. He currently competes regularly in online chess events while being the global ambassador for Ubinet.