Twitch has become synonymous with video game streaming. Some industry heavy-hitters have made moves to take it on, such as Microsoft with Mixer and Alphabet’s YouTube Gaming, but no one has the subscriber and view numbers that Twitch has.
Millions from around the world come to Twitch both to watch esports and to get a look at the daily lives (and gaming) of their favorite athletes and personalities. Before guaranteed league salaries started to become a thing, it used to be the only viable way for top players to make a living.
Twitch is still very lucrative for popular esports figures, so much so that some of them are dropping the competitive scene entirely to do nothing but stream. If you play a top-of-the-line game like League of Legends or Dota 2, there’s still more money in the competitive circuit. If you play something that doesn’t have the same level of established professional competition but is still massively popular (like Fortnite), however, it often makes a lot more financial sense to just be a full-time Twitch streamer.
We’ve highlighted some of the top esports players on Twitch below. You’ll notice some common themes – for example, Fortnite is far and away the most popular thing going on the platform, even though the formal professional scene for it is still in a rudimentary stage. If you want to see the absolute best of the best and most famous players on Twitch, this is them.
1) Ninja (Tyler Blevins)
Gaming rockstar Ninja is best known for his adventures in Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), which led him to become the first Twitch streamer to ever hit 10 million followers.
He got his start as a professional Halo 3 player in 2009. Unlike most Twitch esports players, who pick one game and stick to it until they burn out or the scene around it dissolves, Ninja has proven himself to be adept at evolving to pick up new FPS games and play them at the highest level of competition. He moved from Halo 3 to H1Z1 to PUBG and most recently to Fortnite over the course of a career that has lasted a decade, winning major competitions and locking down a spot on the rosters of major organizations like Luminosity Gaming and Team Liquid.
In addition to being Twitch’s biggest individual draw by a long shot (with metrics almost double his closest competitor), Ninja also set the platform’s single-stream record for viewers when he hosted a Fortnite match with rappers Drake and Travis Scott and pro football player JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The most eye-popping stat about Ninja, however, is that he reportedly rakes in a cool half a million every month solely through his Fortnite streams. That’s a long way from his college job at Noodles & Company!
2) Tfue (Turner Tenney)
Tfue was somewhat late to the professional Fortnite and H1Z1 scenes, but he was also very quick to rack up a solid collection of championships and prize pots. His Twitch also got a big jumpstart thanks to his older brother Jack Tenney, one of the world’s most famous surfer/skimboarders. Tfue streams both his skimboarding exploits (he’s won some championships himself and competes at a high level) and his esports competitions on Twitch, mostly playing Fortnite as a member of the very popular FaZe Clan.
Tfue has also racked up millions of Twitch followers. He is one of the few esports players on Twitch who can boast that he’s beaten Ninja at Fortnite. There is hot debate in esports circles as to whether he or Ninja is the best Fortnite player in the world.
3) Shroud (Michael Grzesiek)
Shroud has retired from professional competition, but he hasn’t left Twitch. You’ll find him there every day putting on clinics in PUBG, the game at which many consider him to still be the best player in the world.
Shroud didn’t retire because of declining skills. Oh, no; at age 23, he stepped out of the game with plenty of prime years left in front of him. Shroud retired because full-time “battle royale” streaming pays a lot better for someone who is as talented and popular as he is, and he was tired of the grind of constant travel.
He actually got his start as a Counter-Strike pro and was dominant in that scene before jumping to PUBG, playing as a member of Cloud9. He voluntarily stepped down to a bench role in the summer of 2017 and then decided to just hang up his competitive gear entirely in the spring of 2018, devoting all of his time to being an esports player on Twitch instead. He mostly sticks to PUBG on Twitch but will break out some Fortnite for variety.
4) TSM_Daequan (Daequan Loco)
The fan-favorite member of Team SoloMid is known for dominating Fortnite and calling other games “doo doo.” He actually has a long history in a number of other competitive games such as Destiny and Smite, but he became a breakout star after jumping to Fortnite and winning more invitationals than anyone else in North America. He was also the record holder for kills in a single game for a long time, racking up 39 in impressive style during a round in which his partner died almost immediately.
He actually has yet to pick up a major tournament win, but he probably isn’t missing the prize money thanks to having one of the biggest follower counts among esports players on Twitch. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Daequan just call it quits early and break away from the competitive scene to do full-time streaming like Shroud has opted to do, at least if a true pro circuit for Fortnite doesn’t coalesce sometime soon.
Daequan at least deserves to be in the conversation for the best Fortnite player in the world. He’s faced Ninja once, in a match that he was actually dominating before forgetting to crouch at a key juncture and getting taken out by a sniper rifle headshot.
5) Sodapoppin (Thomas Jefferson Chance)
It’s very much up for debate whether Sodapoppin should be considered an esports athlete, but his popularity is inarguable.
Sodapoppin started building his reputation around 2011 with World of Warcraft videos. His focus wasn’t really on competitive arena play, however. Instead, he would perform feats like taking a level 1 character on a raid or power-leveling to 100 in record amounts of time.
Some of his views also came from his career as a high-stakes blackjack player. He will sometimes stream games at online casinos where he wagers thousands of dollars on each hand.
He does have a record at competitive H1Z1, though he is not known as a high-level esports player on Twitch. Though it’s fair to argue that he’s more of an influencer and personality than an athlete, he did found the Northern Gaming organization (which has since been acquired by NRG).
His Twitch stream is more varied than most top streamers, showcasing a variety of games interspersed with slices of his life, joke videos, and occasional gambling.
6) Alanzoka (Alan Ferreira)
Brazil-based Alanzoka is a gaming variety streamer who mostly plays Rocket League and Fortnite. He isn’t a top esports athlete, and in fact, he just burst into the upper echelons of esports players on Twitch very quickly in the summer of 2018. He was at one time a high-level amateur Rocket League player before going dormant for over a year. He appears to just play Fortnite for fun and is not a member of any high-level teams or involved in any professional circuits.
He has millions of subscribers nevertheless and is making a push to get back into pro Rocket League competition. Fans of the game are hopeful that he’ll bring more attention to it and elevate its status among esports. One caveat, however: you’ll have to be able to speak Portuguese to understand his stream.
7) Dakotaz (Brett Hoffman)
Dakotaz is a former survival genre specialist (Infestation and WarZ) who, like many high-level esports players on Twitch, took his talents to Fortnite when it became big. He was signed by Team SoloMid in January of 2018 and has since placed respectably in some Friday Fortnite competitions, though he’s still looking for his first major tournament win.
His popularity on Twitch is more due to his high-adrenaline and flashy play style than his professional record. Dakotaz is basically a walking highlight reel and has been responsible for some of the most-circulated viral Fortnite videos in history. He won an April 2018 popularity poll conducted by Red Bull as the people’s favorite Fortnite streamer. He can also be found playing under the name “Dark.”
8) Faker (Lee Sang-hyeok)
Widely regarded as the best League of Legends (LoL) player in the world, South Korea’s Faker is famous for his dominant performances over the world’s top competition at the LoL World Championships in recent years. He’s also become something of a national esports hero of his native country, refusing much larger offers from Chinese organizations to stay at home with team SK Telecom 1.
Dropping out of high school is almost always a bad idea. The only time it ever works out is if you’re clearly as dominant at something as Faker is. Though Faker’s earnings aren’t made public, it’s estimated that he makes four to five million USD a year from his various revenue streams.
9) TSM_Myth (Ali Kabbani)
Myth is a Fortnite specialist and leader of Team SoloMid. Though he’s considered one of the game’s best players, he’s known for not trying particularly hard in his Twitch stream. He plays a lot, but he prefers to relax and fool around, and thus his stats are kind of abysmal for a high-level pro.
Myth turns it up when it’s competition time and prize money is on the line, however. He obviously brings a lot to the table, having been made captain of one of Fortnite’s most prestigious teams. If the Fortnite professional scene continues to develop, we expect to see a lot more effort out of him.
10) Asmongold (Zack ?)
Asmongold does a pretty impressive job of hiding his last name for someone who lives his life so publicly. He’s much more of a variety streamer than an esports pro, but he is a high-level World of Warcraft player who regularly provides in-depth commentary on game updates and shows off his skills.
Twitch visitors can expect his stream to be very heavy on the WoW content, interspersed with personal videos and shots of his extremely messy room that will probably send germaphobes into convulsions.
11) NICKMERCS (Nick Kolcheff)
Why 11 entries instead of a nice, round 10? We’re sure that some people will (not unfairly) argue that Asmongold isn’t really an esports figure. If you fall into that camp, here’s NICKMERCS to give you your denary’s worth.
NICKMERCS got his start as a pro Gears of War player before transitioning to Fortnite in early 2018. He burst onto the scene by winning his first-ever Friday Fortnite competition and continues to place well as a regular participant. He was recently recruited by 100 Thieves.
In addition to his hot start, NICKMERCS draws some of his following from being notably more muscular and fit than your usual gamer. He’s been a bodybuilder since well before he arrived on Twitch, and workout tips pop up on his stream sometimes. He also had the unfortunate experience of being “swatted” by reckless pranksters while on his live stream in April of 2018.
Tops on Twitch
As you can see from this list, spectator interest is very heavily with Fortnite, which makes it all the more baffling that its professional scene still can’t seem to get over the hump and join the top esports games.
If you’re scouting for esports that are primed to break through and see increased wagering action (and opportunity due to new bettor unfamiliarity), however, Twitch statistics make clear that Fortnite is the number-one game to get acquainted with, and Rocket League is an interesting dark horse possibility.