All Time Greatest Esports Players 2023Poligon
There are many factors that go into assessing the merits of a sporting great – from raw performance and talent, to their various achievements. Some of our most memorable sports people are even remembered for their contributions to a team, rather than any individual accolades. The same, naturally, goes for esports players. And while modern greats, like Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyljev and Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, consistently remain the focus of free bet offers provided by leading comparison platforms furnishing odds to the sector today, the risk of recency bias can, in our estimation, lead to some true giants of competitive gaming falling by the wayside.
Here we’re going to tentatively assemble a list of some of esports’ all time greats, both past and present. As with any list, it’s impossible to be exhaustive, but the following players are widely considered to be among the most successful in terms of tournament victories and prize money winnings to date.
10. Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo - Street Fighter
This is a name that has fallen from favor of late following his indefinite ban from Capcom-owned franchises after a string of breaches to their code of conduct stipulations in 2022. However, there’s no denying that Infiltration will go down as one of the greatest Street Fighter players in history after winning EVO no less than six times over the course of his career. At the outset of Street Fighter V’s competitive play, Seon-woo was undefeated at major tournaments before succumbing to the next player on our list.
9. Daigo “The Beast” Umehara - Street Fighter
Six time EVO champion Umehara is a legend of the Street Fighter scene and has been competing at the top flight of fighting games since his debut in 1997, earning him a place among the storied ‘Five Gods’ of the genre. Famous originally for manning Ryu, in 2017 Umehara switched to Guile and further distinguished himself as the best gamer, by record, to ever use this character.
8. Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf - Fortnite
The most successful Fortnite player of all time, Bugha’s run of form in this battle royale is on another level to his rivals. He has won the Fortnite Champion Series NAE three times so far, though his greatest accolade to date remains his victory in the Solo Fortnite World Cup finals in 2019 – a feat which saw him come out on top of an estimated 40 million other players.
7. Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel - Quake
One of the most greatest players of early international esports, Wendel remained the most successful gamer in the world by prize winnings for many years due to his unprecedented run of form in the FPS genre. He was unbelievably dominant over the course of his career, winning six CPL finals and Quakecon 2004, and coming second in the 2001 WSVG finals.
6. Jang "Moon" Jae-ho - Warcraft III
One of the most influential WCIII players ever, Moon has amassed over $600,000 in prize money during his time with the classic RTS. Moon made waves in the early competitive meta due to his innovative use of the Night Elf race that was so distinctive it earned him the moniker of the ‘fifth race’.
5. Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev - Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Kostyliev was recently voted by a panel of his peers to be the greatest CS:GO player of the decade, and it’s easy to see why. Intel Grand Slam and PGL Major trophies cap an unbelievable string of victories in S-tier tournaments. The three time voted Best Player of the Year even holds the record for HLTV MVP medals, having been the recipient of no less than 21 of these.
4. Sumail "SumaiL" Hassan - Dota 2
Hassan made a splash from his earliest competitions, becoming the youngest player ever to win an official Valve tournament. He’s also the youngest player to date to play, and win at The International. SumaiL is a monster on the field, as evidenced by the fact that he scored the highest average kills per game at The International 2015, and most kills in a single game at The International 2018. In addition to his International victory, Hassan has contributed to wins in four other Tier 1 Dota 2 tournaments with the Evil Geniuses between 2015 and 2017.
3. Johan "N0tail" Sundstein - Dota 2
So far, OG founder Johan Sundstein has earned an estimated $7.18 million over the course of his career, the most of any esports player across any game. Despite being inactive at present, N0tail remains the most decorated Dota 2 player in the history of the game, having secured victory in two Internationals and four Majors.
2. Lim "BoxeR" Yo-hwan - StarCraft
It can be tricky to rank ‘classic’ esports athletes alongside modern stars, given that the community has grown so much in the intervening years. After all, BoxeR is only thought to have won around $20,000 over the course of his career. But in spite of this, the two time World Cyber Game, four time OnGameNet StarLeague, and three time MBGame StarCraft League champion, remains the most dominant StarCraft player ever, and helped put esports on the map in South Korea more than any other gamer.
1. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok - League of Legends
Faker may just be the biggest esports player in the world today. Widely regarded as the GOAT of the world’s most popular esport, Faker’s prestige is as much to do with his deep and innovative understanding of his game, as it is his win record. But what a record it is – the "Unkillable Demon King" has won Worlds three times, the MSI twice and LCK no less than ten times. In LCK, he was the first player ever to reach 1000, 1500, 2000 and 2500 kills. He was also the first to reach 300, 400 and 500 LCK wins. In 2019, he became the first player to reach 100 international wins.
Is Faker the greatest esports player of all time? As he’s still in the prime of his career it may be difficult to draw conclusions, but one can rest assured that by the time he decides to retire, his achievements may never be equaled. Having said that, the esports industry is still technically in its infancy. Competition is only likely to get tougher and new stars will emerge.