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The most influential esports players 2020, Forbes rating

Roman "RAMZEs" Kushnarev


  •  Forbes experts continue to look with interest into the wallets of our fellow citizens – how much money is there and where exactly did this money come from? They did not bypass the relatively young direction of the entertainment industry – eSports.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of tournaments, revenues have fallen both for individual teams and for the region as a whole. Therefore, the ranking of e-sportsmen by income had to be abandoned. But the experts did not give up and took another criterion as a basis – popularity. As a result, there appeared ranking of the most influential peoplen eSports , which were the most mentioned in the media and social networks and reviews in personal surveys.

10. Oleg Krot

Oleg KrotThe list of the most influential people in the world of esports, both top managers and players, is opened by the head of the cyber holding WePlay Esports.

  •  Although this company in the post-Soviet space was one of the first esports swallows, it existed somewhere on the periphery, did not participate in big business and acquired sponsors only 8 years after its foundation. But what – for example, one of them is Logitech.

  •  Currently, WePlay Esports is creating esports arenas around the world and hosting online tournaments with large cash prizes.

9. Andrey x3m4eg Grigoriev

Andrey x3m4eg GrigorievThis is one of the most influential Dota players in the post-Soviet space. Some even consider Grigoriev to be a “grey eminence”, who, apparently, secretly directs Valve’s policy in the vastness of Russia and Ukraine.

  •  Now he, together with Vitaly Volochay (second place in the ranking), is the founding father of Maincast, which is engaged in e-sports commentary.

8. Stepan Shulga

Stepan ShulgaWhere sports are, there are bets, and where there are bets, there are bookmakers. It is no wonder that eSports disciplines have acquired their own bookmakers.

  •  And the most influential esports bookmaker is Parimatch, which is run by Stepan Shulga. In addition to betting, Parimatch also sponsors teams (in CS:GO and Dota 2) and also hosts tournaments.

7. Yaroslav Komkov

Yaroslav KomkovThere are esports holdings that organize tournaments, look for teams for players and sponsors for teams, manage arenas and generally bring money to the esports world.

  •  One of these holdings is Winstrike, which is headed by Yaroslav Komkov. Last year, he managed to knock out one of the stages of the prestigious international CS:GO tournament and hold it in Moscow. Among the sponsors were such companies as Toyota and Samsung.

6. Alexander Kokhanovsky

Alexander KokhanovskyA representative of the old generation of Russian e-sportsmen who played Counter Strike at the dawn of the XNUMXs. Alexander was also fond of it, so much so that he actually created one of the first eSports teams in the post-Soviet space.

  •  The Natus Vincere project, aka Na'Vi (remember this name, we will see it more than once in the ranking) turned out to be very successful, and a few years later Alexander and his partner create the ESforce holding (another big name in eSports).

  •  And this project turned out to be successful and brought its creators $ 100 million (it was for this amount that Group bought it). After leaving the EH management, Kokhanovsky decided not to rest on his laurels and organized another company of his own – Zero Gravity Group, which, in addition to Natus Vuncere, includes the DreamTeam multi-service platform.

  •  Alexander has grandiose plans, he bought a whole hotel in Kyiv, which he is going to turn into a “physical” center of virtual sports in Ukraine.

5. Alexey Solo Berezin

Alexey Solo BerezinIn total, out of 30 influential representatives of Russian eSports selected by Forbes, less than a third, in fact, were players in the rating, and there are only two of them in the top ten. With the coronavirus, the balance of power in esports has shifted from the private to the public, from players to companies. And although talented esportsmen are still worth their weight in gold and still occupy a “strong position” in relationships with organizations, however, there is a tilt of influence in favor of contracts in the field.

  •  Solo, aka Aleksey Berezin, is actually the face of Russian esports in Dota 2. For more than ten years, he and his team,, have consistently performed more successfully in this game than other residents of the former USSR. According to experts, Alexey's esports career has brought him more than $1,7 billion, plus the captain's annual salary.

  •  To Alexey's credit, over the years he softened his soul and decided to fight the toxicity among the players. So much so that he arranged a meeting with the vice president of Valve. True, Valve's MOBAs still break records for obscene language and other manifestations of unsportsmanlike behavior. but perhaps things will change sooner or later.

4. Alexander s1mple Kostylev

Alexander s1mple KostylevAlexander Kostylev, aka s1mple (this is his nickname in the CS:GO world) has been accustomed to the pixel rifle from a young age. According to rumors, he took up arms for the first time at the age of four.

  •  Young reflexes and talent did their job, and for a long time Alexander was considered one of the strongest players in Counter-Strike, and in 2018 he took first place. He performs as part of the Na'Vi team, which has already been mentioned here many times.

  •  However, a year after his triumph, Alexander tasted defeat – he is no longer the strongest player in the world. Because of this, his income fell by almost half. But despite his age and slowing reflexes, he is still the most powerful CS player.

3. Evgeny HarisPilton Zolotarev

Evgeny HarisPilton ZolotarevAnd here is the director of that very famous group Na'Vi. In his youth, he, like many other influencers in esports, played CS. There he met one of the founders of the club, Kokhanovsky (sixth place on the list), and gradually joined the team.

  •  Two years ago, Evgeny took over the reins of Na'Vi from Kokhanovsky's hands, and in general, this had a positive effect on the life of the club. Na'Vi have become the leader in the number of views not only, but all over the world.

2. Vitaly v1lat Volochay

Vitaliy v1lat VolochayThe face of eSports sports commentary. Vitaly started with podcasts for specialized forums, and then switched to streaming esports tournaments on CS and Dota, beloved by Russians. Yes, so successfully that by 2015, RuHub, founded by him, became the most famous, recognizable and, to some extent, even innovative esports commentary studio.

  •  As usual, popularity entails money, and RuHub first became part of the ESforce holding, and then in 2018 the studio was bought out by Group.

  •  Vitaly clearly did not agree with the reshuffle that had taken place in the business field. Together with like-minded people, he decided to start over and created his own studio, Maincast, which is still floating independently in esports waters. A highly successful deal keeps it afloat – Vitaly managed to knock out the right to broadcast their tournaments from the major international esports organizations ESL and DreamHack. The contracts effectively established Maincast's dominance in the eSports commentary market.

1. Emin Antonyan

Emin AntonyanEsforce Holding and its CEO, Emin Antonyan, quietly reign over the Russian esports field, largely thanks to the support of Group, which bought the rights to the company two years ago. The holding began its existence thanks to the efforts of two esports enthusiasts, Alexei Kolesnikov and Anton Cherepennikov. Alexander Kokhanovsky with his group Natus Vincere (sixth place in the ranking) and the German eSports club SK Gaming managed to visit it.

  •  The holding turned out to be so successful that it attracted the attention of Alisher Usmanov, who invested a round sum of $100 million in it. Esforce Holding was the first to organize an international esports tournament and the first to build an entire esports arena for this purpose. Two years ago, the rights to the company were acquired by Group, and the original founders of the company, as business news delicately puts it, ceased to participate in the work of the holding.

  •  This is how Emin Antonyan entered the scene, heading Esforce Holding under the auspices of His appointment was no accident. Emin is one of the first pioneers of virtual sports and has been holding the honorary position of the Secretary General of the Russian Cybersport Federation for four years now.

  •  The traditional direction of esports clubs and neighboring Ukraine is Counter Strike and Dota. And every year EH holds two tournaments in these disciplines. The holding did not bypass such a little-studied, but very profitable area as pixel trading – it owns two services for buying and selling game items for CS and Dota. In addition, Esforce Holding supports Fortnite, Paladins and Apex Legends teams.

  •  Interestingly, in addition to purely virtual sports, Emin does not forget about ordinary sports. For a long time, Antonyan has been the coach of the elite amateur basketball club Moskovsky and is not going to give up this business.