One of the brightest stars of South Korea might be one of the richest as well, and that’s according to StarCraft legend Hong “YellOw” Jin-ho in a new interview
The former KT Rolster strategy game pro spoke to MBC’s RadioStar about League of Legends icon Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, discussing multiple things about him with the most interesting being how much money he makes off League of Legends.
Apparently, Faker makes a minimum of three billion won (approx. $2.8 million USD) each year, according to LCK news site Korizon. This number is only slightly higher than previous reports of the LCK superstar signing for $2.5 million USD in 2017.
Add to that incentives like winnings and sponsorships, YellOw claims the paycheck would jump to around five billion won, which is equivalent to about $4.6 million USD. This is significantly higher than the estimates of Faker’s earnings. Despite his claims, it’s unclear how exactly YellOw knows any specific information regarding Faker’s salary, though.
According to YellOw, it’s easy in the current times for a pro gamer to make $100,000 yearly. In his days of playing StarCraft in the early-to-mid 2000s, a player could only earn that much if they were one of the best in the scene.
Faker certainly qualifies as the best of the best, so $4.6 million wouldn’t be too far-fetched. After all, it’s still a wildly lower number compared to top-level professionals in traditional sports. The NFL’s Cam Newton reportedly rakes in $53.1 million yearly, and the NBA’s LeBron James takes home $77.2 million, according to reports.
At the age of 21, Faker has won three of his four appearances on the World Championship stage, as well as four LCK championships and several other victories at MSI, IEM, and All-Stars. Most recently, though, things haven’t been going so great for Faker. Despite his undeniable success, he and the rest of his SK Telecom T1 teammates just finished one of the worst seasons of their career with a first-round knockout in the LCK playoffs and a lose to Samsung Galaxy last year at Worlds.