GankStars Esports

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GankStars Vainglory Prize Winnings, Payouts 2015 - 2016

Almost a year ago, we were the first Vainglory organization (and among the first in any esport) to go public about how much we paid players at the time. We believe that transparency fuels positive change in the long-term and is the bedrock upon which communities can be built. Today, we are continuing that tradition by publishing our 2015 and 2016 prize winnings and how much of them we paid out to players. While prize winnings are technically publicly known, player payouts are not. However, even public information on winnings is hard to put together - there's not one web site that lists all competitions an organization or team participated in, or even prize categories for each competition. 

Note: this does not yet include Autumn Split 2 or Vainglory World Championship. I'll update the table after split 2 and, if we go to Worlds, after that. 


We only started tracking winnings for 2015 since the Vainglory World Invitational in July. Frankly, there was nothing to keep track of prior to that... The only competition that successfully finished and paid out prizes before VWI was VGL Season 1, where GankStars Sirius placed 1st and won $100 total.

It was a good year for us thanks to GSS winning 1st in VIPL. Outside of that, prize winnings were quite low as Vainglory pro scene was just in its beginnings. 

2015 Vainglory Winnings Distribution

Total: $42k

Note: player payouts do not include salaries, bonuses, etc. - only prize winnings share


We didn't place 1st in a VIPL, and we certainly had our number of struggles in North America up until now. However, we still managed to come close to the total amount of prize winnings, which speaks to the growth of Vainglory as an esport. By the time Autumn Split 2 is finished, we should just barely cross 40k total for the year.

2016 Vainglory Winnings Distribution

Total: $37k

Note: player payouts do not include salaries, bonuses, etc. - only prize winnings share

Notes & Observations

1. Korea dropped from being 93% of our prize winnings in 2015 to 27% in 2016, as other SEMC-sanctioned competitions picked up the tab. Even if we had won one of the VIPLs in 2016, like we did in 2015, winnings from Korea-based competitions would have accounted for 50% of total, down from 93%. This diversification of income is definitely a good sign.

2. The winnings do not include non-prize income such as sponsorships, streaming deals, and stipends. Player payouts also do not include salaries, performance bonuses, food stipends, etc. Had we included performance bonuses alone in 2016, the player payouts would have reached 98% of total prize winnings. (That number goes to far north of 100% if you also account for salaries; i.e., GankStars had not made a single dollar on prize winnings in 2016.) Showing that in the tables would pollute the data; the goal was to show what prize earnings are possible and how much is left after a typical player payout. 

3. The numbers above are for a consistent top 3 team. We didn't place top 3 in every competition we participated in, however, we did place top 3 in every competitive season of Vainglory so far. Off the top of my head, I think TSM is the only team with similar or higher prize earnings in Vainglory in 2016.

If you're not in the top 3, your earnings will be dramatically different from those shown above, perhaps surprisingly so. The distance between 3rd and 4th places is quite large still.


Wow, GankStars won a lot of money! Well, not really. With 9 pro paid players in Vainglory, in 2016 our monthly expenses exceeded our annual share of prize earnings. Let that sink in. The industry right now is 90% about sponsors and other sources of income, or finding players willing to play for free.

A substantial increase in the amount of prize winnings has been made available in Vainglory between 2015 and 2016. In 2015 we were the highest-earning Vainglory organization with a distant 2nd making less than half; in 2016 we've seen at least two other organizations earn similar amounts, one of them perhaps even more. A few others have earned less, but not by that long of a shot. Hooray! Here's to 2017 continuing, if not accelerating this trend.

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