Lifetime earnings of the highest paid eSports stars - professional players who earn money competing in videogame tournaments - have been revealed, showing that a 16-year-old player made $116,00 (£75,000) in just one year.

starcraft player life
Starcraft champion and professional videogamer Lee Seung-hyan, better known by his gaming nickname "Life". (Credit: ESFI World)

According to website eSports Earnings, Lee Seung-hyan, a South Korean player better known by his gaming handle "Life", amassed prize winnings of $116,000 by competing in videogame tournaments in 2012. Lee, who was born in 1997, competes in tournaments based around the videogame Starcraft, and since starting his professional career in 2011, has earned total winnings of $161,000.

The player to earn the most from a career in eSports is 32-year-old Johnathan Wendal from Utah, better as "Fatal1ty". Wendal has amassed lifetime earnings of $454,000 during his entire eSports career which began in 1999 when he entered a tournament based around the game Quake III: Arena. He earned $4,000 from the competition after placing third.

Though Wendal has clocked up more than $100,000 playing various versions of Quake, his most lucrative game is the lesser known Painkiller, which accounts for more than half of his total career earnings.

Wendal has earned over $240,000 playing Painkiller, including one victory at the Cyber-athlete Professional League World Finals in 2005, which netted him a prize pot of $150,000.

Narrowly trailing

Though eSports Earnings ranks Wendal as the highest-paid eSports player overall, South Korean player, Lee Young Ho, better known as "Flash", is narrowly trailing, having amassed earnings of $437,000 in tournaments based around the game Starcraft. Young Ho has only been playing eSports professionally since 2007.

The list compiled by eSports Earnings only accounts for tournament prize money. The majority of eSports stars' income however comes from sponsorship deals, with hardware makers such as Razer sponsoring cyber-athletes to use their keyboards and mice during professional games. Energy drink companies are also large sponsors of eSports tournaments.

First-person shooters such as Quake, Painkiller and Call of Duty are popular games used in eSports tournaments, particularly in the US, where competitions are overseen by regulatory body Major League Gaming.

In South Korea, where eSports are also popular, tournaments are most often held between players of Starcraft, a real-time strategy game which involves building and commanding large armies. In the past, Starcraft have been television on South Korean cable channels.