The gender pay gap dominates just about every industry, but it’s a particular problem in the sporting world. While female tennis players pocket similar earnings to their male counterparts, most women in sport earn substantially less than men. Sadly, the same applies to female esports players. However, the root cause here is more to do with a lack of female representation. In the United States, around around 48% of gamers are women. Despite this, only a fraction of top-level esports athletes is female. Below, we profile eight of the highest-paid female esports athletes of all time.
8. Ricki Ortiz
Ricki Ortiz is a name you’ll know if you’re active in the fighting game community. Sometimes known as “HelloKittyRicki”, Ortiz is a master at genre favorites like Street Fighter V and the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Although not as active as she once was, Ortiz is a living legend in beat ’em up circles. Career highlights include two second-place finishes at the Capcom Cup, with prize money pocketing her more than $82,000.
7. Ksenia Klyuenkova
Russia is home to a surprising number of female esports players, with many of them choosing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as their game of choice. Ksenia ” vilga” Klyuenkova is without doubt the most successful of the bunch. She’s been playing CS:GO professionally since 2013, serving on teams like Team Secret, Assassins, and RES Gaming. In 2021, she signed a contract with Nigma Galaxy Female and continues to serve as their rifler. She might have only earned around $88,000 during her playing career, but now she’s progressed to A-Tier tournaments, expect more fame and fortune for this Russian pro.
6. Rumay Wang
Based out of the US, Rumay “Hafu” Wang is a successful esports player and Twitch streamer. Although most of her career earnings have come from Teamfight Tactics, Wang is also well-known as a World of Warcraft and Hearthstone player. She’s earned more than $90,000 during her career but has switched her attention to streaming in recent years.
5. Nina Qual
Successful StarCraft II players are hard to come by outside of South Korea. This is what makes Nina Qual such a rare entity. Previously known as “puCK”, Qual earned more than $91,000 from tournament winnings
4. Julia Kiran
Scandinavian teams like Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas are consistent performers in top-tier tournaments. As such, it’s no surprise to find at least one Swedish female pro making this list. Julia “juliano” Kiran made waves as a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player. She’s only been competing professionally since 2021 but has already earned more than $96,000. In 2021, she signed a contract with G2 Gozen, so don’t be too surprised to see her break into the S-Tier scene.
3. Kat Gunn
US-based player Kat “Mystik” Gunn is something of a trailblazer for female gamers. She’s been playing professionally since as early as 2006, taking part in one of the first World Cyber Games. Just like Ricki Ortiz, Gunn made a name for herself with the beat ’em up genre, competing in Dead or Alive tournaments. However, she’s since gone on to play games like Hearthstone, Halo, and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. As of 2023, she’s amassed more than $122,000 from playing in tournaments. In fact, she was previously recognized as the highest-earning female gamer of all time, securing an entry in the Guinness World Records back in 2016. Although no longer a regular on the professional circuit, Gunn continues to game and regularly streams content via Twitch.
2. Li Xiamomeng
Li Xiaomeng might be the only Chinese player on this list, but her career earnings make her one of the most successful female esports athletes of all time. Better known as “Liooon”, this Chinese pro has established herself as one of the finest Hearthstone players on the planet. In 2019, she was crowned Hearthstone World Champion and became the first woman ever to secure a win at a BlizzCon event. Despite only playing for a few years, Liooon has already won more than $240,000 in prize money.
1. Sasha Hostyn
Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn quickly supplanted Kat Gunn as the highest-earning female gamer of all time in 2016. She earned her first $100,000 within two years of playing at tournaments. Currently, her fortune is closer to $440,000. This Canadian professional is a firm fixture in StarCraft II circles, although Hostyn has also turned her talents to Dota 2 during her career. Her in-game performance puts her shoulder-to-shoulder with the best male players on the planet and esports teams stats. She continues to dominate the Hearthstone scene and has recently signed a contract with Shopify Rebellion.