Despite being a relatively young industry, the esports sector is booming. In just two decades, esports has evolved from fringe tournaments to international competitions that bring in audiences of more than half a billion. As with traditional sports, some countries fare better when it comes to competitive gaming. Many countries have their own leagues, with dozens of teams competing throughout the year. However, a handful of countries dominate global esports.
Despite being home to only 5.5 million people, Finland is a heavyweight when it comes to international esports competition. When it comes to the highest-earning countries, Finland just about makes the top ten, with combined earnings of more than $27 million. Although the domestic esports team is pretty modest, several high-profile players enjoy international recognition. As of 2023, there are around 1,700 pro-level esports players hailing from Finland. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 are particularly popular in this part of Scandinavia. The likes of Topias “Topson” Taavitsainen and Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka have both made a name for themselves on the Dota 2 circuit, with the latter moving into coaching to lead Team Liquid.
There’s a real appetite for esports in Nordic countries. Although Sweden’s population is almost double that of Finland, it’s still a relatively small country compared to the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, you’ll find a thriving esports scene here, with more than 2,700 professionals. As with Finland, CS:GO and Dota 2 reign supreme here. The Scandinavian also serves as a spiritual home for the esports community, regularly playing host to DreamHack tournaments.
3. United States
In terms of sheer earnings, no country holds a torch to the United States. With more than 20,000 active players, the USA is home to the largest network of pro-level esports players on the planet. As of 2023, US players have pocketed upwards of $180 million in prize earnings. It’s not hard to see why the US continues to dominate professional esports. Many industry events were founded here, while games like League of Legends are homegrown exports. Teams like Evil Geniuses, Cloud9 and FaZe Clan have been around for years. In fact, many of these organizations have since branched out and established teams across multiple esports titles.
Here we have yet another Scandinavian country making a splash in the esports sector. Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, Denmark has
nurtured some of the biggest esports talents of all time. Teams like Astralis have become global superstars in CS:GO. However, League of Legends and Dota 2 are also well-represented by Danish esports talent.
1. South Korea
Although some people attribute the rise of esports to the United States, competitive gaming as we know it today truly emerged from South Korea. Unsurprisingly, South Korea is one of the best-performing countries on the planet when it comes to professional gaming. The country performs well across the board, with South Korean teams doing particularly well at Starcraft 2 events. However, organizations like T1 are also celebrated in League of Legends circles. South Korea has relatively few professional players compared to the likes of the United States, with around 4,200 esports athletes currently competing. Despite this, the country has amassed industry earnings of more than $107 million. Eager to see your favorite South Korean teams in action? Check the 2023 LCS schedule at 1337PRO to follow the latest action as it unfolds.