This is how eSports professionals earn their money

In Austria, a few game professionals can now make a living from their jobs. Nevertheless, eSport is still in its infancy.

Today one of the largest Austrian eSports tournaments is taking place. At the A1 eSports Fall Finals, 5 games such as Fortnite, Rocket League and League of Legends are played. 138 players compete in the live event. Due to the corona, visitors are not allowed – the transmission from the Vienna Gasometer takes place under strict security precautions.

Horrifying sums of the kind we know from international competitions are not paid out here. A total of 5,000 euros are earmarked for League of Legends (LOL) and 1,000 euros for Fortnite. The winners will receive 2,000 or 500 euros of this. Is that enough to turn eSports into a full-time job?

Stepping stone Austria

Yes, says Manuel Haselberger, Press spokesman of the eSport Association Austria (ESVÖ): “There are a few pro players who can already make a living from it. That’s about a dozen “in Austria. Not all of them play for Austrian teams. For example, Fortnite shooting star” Aqua “is under contract with the London-based Cooler Esport and 16-year-old newcomer Eldin” Eldos “Todorovac has recently started playing for Borussia Dortmund Fifa.

“I see Austrian eSport as a springboard for the international scene. If you want to be in the professional segment, you have to break something internationally. It doesn’t do any good if you win every national tournament. That’s nice, but you can’t live on it “, so Haselberger.

“I earn quite well”

One who made it to Austria anyway is Philipp “Phil” Gutmann. The Fifa player was already under contract with Sturm Graz and has now been signed by FC Wacker Innsbruck. He doesn’t reveal what he earns, but “I earn quite well for Austrian eSports, I have a normal salary,” Gutmann explains in an interview with futurezone.

For Gutmann, however, one thing is very clear: Before you pursue your dream of becoming an eSports professional, you should complete an apprenticeship: “In eSports it goes up very quickly and down again just as quickly. You should have something in hand, otherwise you will be left empty-handed. “

If young people are enthusiastic about eSports, they should first scour the club landscape in Austria, advises Haselberger. Here you learn to play in a professional environment and not just as a hobby at home.


A1 eSport League

Many sources of income

The income is made up of many components. A player can be under contract with a club and possibly receive a transfer bonus and a fixed salary. There is also prize money for games won.

But marketing should not be ignored either: sponsorship and advertising contracts generate additional income, as in other professional sports. Most professionals broadcast their games live on the Internet (streaming). Watching fans can donate money to them, and some professionals also show advertisements in their broadcasts. They can also build up a fan base and interact with them.

In addition to the A1 eSports League Austria, the eBundesliga (Fifa) is the largest Austrian tournament. There are also many small competitions. Some can earn an extra income like this. “There are many players who can earn 200 or 400 euros a month. That is prize money from tournaments or smaller salaries for semi-professionals who only commit themselves for one season, ”Haselberger assesses the scene. It is comparable to football players who do not earn as much in a fourth division as the professionals at the top.


From 100 to 0

The whole eSports apparatus is still in its infancy. Structures and regulations for procedures in leagues are still developing, both at international and national level. That means uncertainty for donors.

Most eSports disciplines are organized in seasons. Fortnite has several seasons a year, while Fifa lasts for a year. Then the cards are reshuffled and everyone starts from 0. Even if the winners automatically qualify for the next season, that doesn’t mean they’ll do the same.

At Fifa, the latest version of the game is always played and it is updated annually, explains Gutmann. Therefore, the players have to adjust to new mechanics again and again and that brings great fluctuations in performance.

TV transmission as an economic factor

A look at the USA reveals that everything is a little different here. “TV licenses are a rapidly growing industry in America,” says Haselberger. While there are only sporadic reports on tournaments in Europe, there are huge media events and broadcasts on major TV stations such as ESPN, TBS, CW and CBS in the USA.

This year, eSport filled the gap left by events canceled due to Corona, reports Forbes. Such transfers generate additional advertising revenue that is still missing in Europe. But there are slowly tendencies here too: the German broadcaster Sport 1 has founded its own platform with eSports1 and the German soccer magazine “ran” reports regularly on FIFA eSport.

eSport in the coalition agreement

At least from a legal level, something is happening in Austria. A separate point was dedicated to eSport in the coalition agreement. A corresponding working group has now been initiated in the National Council following a proposal from the Greens. It should develop the legal basis and framework – for example how players have to pay taxes on their prize money, but the issues of youth protection and non-profit status also play a role. This should further inspire the national eSport landscape.

The live broadcast of the A1 eSports Fall Finals starts at 12 noon on the league’s official Twitch channel.


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