And salaries are rising in North America. The typical for a participant in a workforce’s beginning 5 has climbed to $460,000 from $300,000 since 2018, Mr. Greeley mentioned. The very best-paid gamers in the US, Mr. Wolf mentioned, may make as much as $500,000 greater than their elite counterparts in a rustic like South Korea.
Most of the League Championship Sequence’ 10 groups are backed by billionaires who additionally personal conventional U.S. sports activities groups. However the sport has not but grow to be a money cow. To get in on League of Legends, groups needed to pay Riot $10 million to $13 million.
Riot declined to say how a lot it constructed from League of Legends, and analysts don’t suppose it’s profiting straight from e-sports. However SuperData, a analysis firm, estimated that the sport itself introduced in additional than $1.8 billion in income final yr.
Just some blocks from Riot’s headquarters in western Los Angeles — the place matches are usually performed — is Sawtelle Boulevard, the place e-sports stars frequent ramen eating places and boba outlets. Korean transplants usually spend their weekends in Koreatown, the place they’ll discover meals that reminds them of house, mentioned Genie Doi, an e-sports immigration lawyer.
The work-life stability in the US is one other draw for gamers who’re weary of placing in 18-hour follow days and even creating wrist accidents, mentioned Kang Jun-hyeok, a South Korean-born League of Legends participant who’s now Staff Liquid’s coach. Although South Korea and China have made strides in recent times, he mentioned, the tradition is that of “working exhausting, grinding till you collapse,” Mr. Kang, 31, mentioned.
North American groups pitch these advantages to potential gamers as they have interaction in a fragile courtship to woo the very best free brokers earlier than different groups do. As soon as a participant decides to signal a contract, Ms. Doi helps the workforce apply for a visa, which she mentioned was often granted regardless of the weird career.