The Best eSports Gamers Ever: Bodog’s Top Five
eSports have reached an all-time high in popularity. The Covid-19 pandemic created a unique opportunity for the industry to emerge on a more mainstream platform, as all traditional sports were paused. In that time, pro sports players picked up their controllers and took part in gaming tournaments, such as the Madden NFL Invitational, which saw eight NFL players compete in a charity tournament that WR Marquise Brown ultimately won.
Even with traditional sports leagues back in action, it’s clear that eSports are here to stay and will likely continue to grow. Fanbases have expanded and the list of games holding international competitions keeps getting longer. And of course, the quality of gamers is at an all-time high, with the following five holding claim to being the best eSports gamers ever.
Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok
Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok is considered the GOAT of eSports. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Faker grew up playing video games, including Warcraft III and Chaos. It wasn’t until 2011, however, that he was introduced to League of Legends—his claim to fame. It didn’t take him long to master the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game and get nicknamed the “Unkillable Demon King.” His mechanics and raw skill are second to none, and this is what puts him top of the pile in our list of the best eSports gamers ever.
SK Telecom T1, a premier gaming team in South Korea, picked up Faker and built a team around him as the critical mid laner. In his first year with the team, they qualified for the world championship and won the tournament, beating China-based Royal Club 3-0 in anticlimactic fashion in the Grand Finals.
They became world champions again in 2015 and 2016 and finished as runners up in 2017 and 2022. Faker also led his team to two Mid Seasonal Invitational championships (2016 and 2017). He has earned more money than any other League of Legends player ($1,434,271 and counting) and has a massive fanbase at 1.67 million subscribers.
Lee “Flash” Young Ho
Another top talent out of South Korea, Lee “Flash” Young Ho is arguably considered the greatest of the Bonjwas—a local term for the best-of-the-best StarCraft players coming out of South Korea at the time. Flash started his professional gaming career at the tender age of 14 when he joined KT Rolster and adopted the Terran role.
Success came quickly for Flash. In his first year, he made it to the semi-final of the OnGameNet Starleague (and was the youngest player to do so). The following year, Flash faced off against Stork in the finals of Bacchus OSL and won—becoming a 15-year-old champion. In the 2009-10 season, Flash truly dominated the scene. There were seven premier tournaments that season and he reached the finals in all of them and won five. During that time, he shut down his top rival, Lee Jae-dong, three times and was considered to be one of the best eSport players of all time.
Throughout his time as a professional player, Flash evolved from being a gimmicky player utilizing rush strategies to a well-rounded and very strategic player with strong defensive play. He has won $670,457 in his pro gaming career so is every bit deserving of his spot in our list of the best eSports gamers ever.
Lim “BoxeR” Yo-hwan
Another notable Bonjwa out of South Korea, Lim “BoxeR” Yo-hwan is considered to be a pioneer of eSports. Known as “The Terran Emperor” for his achievements with the Terran race from StarCraft and StarCraft II, BoxeR used creativity to come up with many innovative strategies that have since become mainstream. He showed excellent micromanagement skills with his units and truly revolutionized the game in its formative years. Over time, he was simply known as “The Emperor” for his utter dominance of the game.
BoxeR’s best results came between 2001 to 2002. He won back-to-back WCGs (2001 and 2002, at $20,000 apiece), a Starleague championship (2001) and the first KPGA Tour in 2002. He formed the massively successful SK Telecom T1 before briefly leaving to perform compulsory national service in the armed forces of South Korea, where he formed the very first military eSports team (Airforce Challenge E-sports) with several other pro gamers. He returned as a player and coach for SK Telecom and then retired in 2013. In 2020, BoxeR received a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to eSports.
Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund
Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund made a name for himself in pro gaming through both versions of Counter-Strike (Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive). Born in Sweden, GeT_RiGhT started playing competitively in 2007 when he joined Begrip—a pro eSports team based in Sweden. He finished second at a local tournament (spiXelania) and then joined Fnatic the following year. On team Fnatic, he impressed with a victory over the super team from Poland, MeetYourMakers, in the final of the IEM Season III—his first major victory— for $50,000 in prize money. He went on to win many other tournaments that year and was named the eSports Player of the Year.
GeT_RiGhT started the second half of his gaming career when he switched over to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2012. He joined the Sweden-based gaming team Ninjas in Pyjamas and made a huge impact in the team’s success that included their legendary 87-map win streak that came to an end in March 2013 at the SLTV StarSeries V Finals. He won $621,886 throughout 231 tournaments.
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein
When you look at the eSports players with the highest total career earnings, you’ll see Johan “N0tail” Sundstein at the top of the list with $7,184,163. At the age of 15, the Danish/Faeroese player had an early start in pro gaming when he became a side project for Fnatic through Heroes of Newerth, but his real success came from Dota, which he transitioned to in 2012.
N0tail won his first Dota tournament (the Thor Open) in 2012 and continued to succeed at a high level ever since; however, he went through a number of team changes before starting his own team called OG with Tal “Fly” Aizik, who he’d been with since the early days with HoN. In pure ability alone, he has to be ranked as one of the best eSports gamers ever.
Unfortunately for OG, they fell apart at their first appearance at The International in 2016 and N0tail and Fly had to rebuild afterwards. They competed in their second The International in 2018 and won by a score of 3-2. OG then became the first team to repeat as winners when they secured victory again at The International again in 2019. At the age of 25, Sundstein was featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for gaming.