Top 10 Professional Esports Players To Follow In 2020
Being a professional esport player is by no means an easy job, regardless of public perception. These individuals invest years of their lives into just a single endeavor: improving as much as they possibly can in just a single title. They practice day in and day out, they watch VODs, strategize, analyze, adapt to an ever-changing meta, pick up new champions and strategies on the fly, all the while competing in often unforgiving schedules and environments.
As the old adage goes: reaching the top is “easy”, staying there is what’s hard. If you’re constantly winning, you get about two to three months of free time per year, and often even less than that. To remain at the top, these individuals truly have to dedicate their full being and they cannot afford to slip up. Because of this, the very best players in the world are respected across the globe and have amassed cult followings for a reason. They’re consummate professionals and are worthy of the highest praise.
Finally, before we delve any deeper into the list, it’s important to highlight that no Top 10 list can be fully objective, and with so many spectacular esport athletes out there, someone’s bound to be left out. Be that as it may, we’ve consolidated some of the very best and most talented competitors the esports realm has to offer.
With that out of the way, let’s begin our list!
Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg [Team SoloMid, League of Legends]
The Danish prodigy is synonymous with the North American LCS. Ever since he moved across the pond to compete for the best and most prestigious NA team (Team SoloMid), he not only became the organization’s poster child, but also the best and most consistent mid laner to ever grace the LCS stage. He’s both a leader and a shotcaller, and his plays never really regressed even though he’s been competing at the highest of levels for years.
Bjergsen found about as much regional success as possible, although he never quite broke through on the international stage. Then again, such a thing could be said for North America as a whole. In any case, Bjergsen is one of the most respected and beloved players in the region and his work ethic and dedication to his craft are second to none. The fact that he persevered through many different metas and roster iterations is only further proof of his resilience and overall commitment.
Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng
Doublelift’s story resembles that of Bjergsen, although he’s a rare specimen: a successful, insanely talented native player. A rare sight in a region that rarely (if ever) fosters homegrown talent. Even though he’s been competing for what feels like an eternity, Doublelift is still every bit as good as he was in the past, if not even better. He simply improves with age, which often isn’t the case in esports. His dedication never wavered and his mechanical prowess and talent are downright mesmerizing. He’s also won the LCS with three entirely different teams — he’s an MVP no matter the team or meta.
Rasmus “Caps” Winther [G2 Esports, League of Legends]
Yet another Dane, but also a player whose career had a completely different kind of trajectory when compared to Bjergsen. Caps was often considered as a mechanical deity, but his inherent toxicity and immaturity meant no one was willing to give him a shot at playing professionally. But seeing how his talent was undeniable, he was able to go through the ranks and eventually got picked up by Fnatic.
To say that he wrecked house in his very first year of playing on the European stage would truly be an understatement. He was proclaimed as “baby Faker” mere weeks after donning a Fnatic jersey and while that’s definitely an overly dramatic title, it is by no means undeserved. Caps is one of the few players who was able to consistently compete with (and often beat) the very best and most talented players in the world and is widely regarded as one of the best mid laners to ever play the game. Perhaps the one thing that makes Caps stand out isn’t his creativity or sheer ingenuity on the Summoner’s Rift, but rather his ability to bend the rules whenever he feels like it. Caps can do the impossible, and when he’s at the top of his game it’s like he’s on a whole ‘nother level, regardless of the opposition.
His plays and highlight reels are awe-inspiring and it’s fair to say that he still hasn’t peaked either. That said, with such immense talent comes as a price: inconsistency.
Regardless, he’s already a legend after three years of competing in the LEC and is laser-focused on winning the only trophy that has eluded him for two years in a row: the World Championship.
Luka “Perkz” Perković [G2 Esports, League of Legends]
The Croatian mid laner is in many ways the yin to Caps’ yang. He’s one of the best and most successful players in Western League of Legends history and can rightfully be considered as the best Western player of all time. Ever since he broke onto the scene, he’s been considered as a household name. His laning prowess is second to none and the same goes for his flexibility and sheer in-game impact.
But the thing that truly sets Perkz apart is the fact that he plays his best League of Legends when everything is on the line. Once those hectic five-on-five team fights break out, when the difference between victory and defeat is just a couple of clicks, Perkz manages to tap into a seemingly endless well of talent and pull off mind-blowing clutch plays. His LeBlanc performance against Royal Never Give Up at the 2018 World Championship often comes to mind.
His trophy case is stacked and he was able to dominate over the region with multiple different iterations of G2. Perkz also made headlines in early 2019 when he decided to make a role swap for the ages and move over to the bottom lane and, in doing so, allow Caps to join G2 Esports. Such a move is unheard of — for one mid lane legend to adjust to such a degree in order to empower and strengthen the entire team. Perkz’s selfless mentality bore fruit almost immediately: G2 Esports were able to reclaim their long-lost throne and quickly became the best and most stacked European team in the history of the region.
As was expected, his immense talent and dedication allowed him to become a powerhouse in the bottom lane as well. It feels like Perkz never fails to surprise us and even though he’s been a champion of Europe for what feels like an eternity, he’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Jay “sinatraa” Won & Matthew “super” DeLisi [San Francisco Shock, Overwatch]
The San Francisco Shock DPS and main tank duo have, in many ways, been inseparable during their legendary 2019 run in the Overwatch League. They’re some of the best players in the world and their in-game impact is downright awe-inspiring. When GOATS was the meta, super’s incredible main tank play was the Shock’s foundation — he was their most important catalyst. Sinatraa, to his credit, is far from a DPS one-trick. Heck, his Zarya play was some of the best you’ll ever see in competitive.
To say that they dominated throughout last year would truly be an understatement. The two of them were also given an opportunity to represent not just the Overwatch League but also esports in its entirety by appearing on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Johan “N0tail” Sundstein [OG, Dota 2]
The venerable Dota 2 veteran is as respected and accomplished a player as they come, and yet he’s still just twenty-six-years-old.
With OG, N0tail has won four Dota Majors (Frankfurt, Manila, Boston, and Kiev) along with two back-to-back Internationals (in 2018 and 2019). Those two TIs — which also happened to have the biggest prize pools in history — are more than enough for the entire team to call it a day and retire.
Fortunately, N0tail is showing no signs of wear and tear after competing at the highest of levels for years and will be looking to further build on his (already spectacular) legacy in 2020. Will a seriously revamped OG roster still be up to the task? We’ll have to wait to find out, but if we’ve learned anything over the years, it is the fact that they should not be underestimated.
Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi [Nigma, Dota 2]
The veteran support is synonymous with the game and its competitive scene. He’s been a TI regular ever since 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 that he really made the world take notice while playing on Natus Vincere (a second-place finish at TI3). His list of accomplishments is long and it spans multiple different staple teams like Team Secret and Team Liquid. 2017 marked the year when all of his hard work paid off (both literally and figuratively) as he was able to lift the TI trophy after a stellar 3:0 win over Newbee in the finals. A lot of time has passed since KuroKy first went pro, but he’s still as dominant and successful as ever.
Kuroky will now look to once again leave a mark in the world of competitive Dota, albeit under an entirely different banner: Nigma, an organization founded by the former Team Liquid line-up. Watching their next step will be an absolute must regardless if they find as much success as they did in the past.
Dominique “SonicFox” McLean
SonicFox is currently the recognizable and dominant fighting game player in the world. And he doesn’t just attract attention because of his attire either — his skill and mechanical prowess are unrivaled. Dominique is just twenty-one-years-old and yet he’s already a legend across multiple different titles. His ability to pick up any new fighting game and play at the highest possible level is virtually unheard of. He was awarded the “Esports Player of the Year” at the Game Awards in 2018, as well as the “Esports Console Player of the Year” in 2019.
As for games, he excels at basically any fighting game out there, but he made his name in Injustice 2, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat X, and Mortal Kombat 11.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev [Natus Vincere, CS:GO]
The Ukranian legend is widely regarded as one of the best players in the history of the game. Now, when it comes to declaring the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive GOAT, there’s no consensus. Some vote for Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, some for Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, whereas others prefer Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg at the top of the list. Heck, it feels like this is just scratching the surface. All of these individuals deserve to get the nod, and most of it just boils down to personal preference.
Be that as it may, s1mple is as talented as they come, and his aim and game sense are absolutely mesmerizing. That said, he still has a lot to prove as his trophy case isn’t nearly as populated as, say, Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz’s.
Mathieu “Zywoo” Herbaut also deserves a mention (to say the least), as does Filip “NEO” Kubski. In fact, the list of legendary CS:GO players is long and ever-growing. If anything, it’s a fascinating mix of young phenoms and grizzled veterans, all of whom managed to stand out in one way or another.
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok [T1, League of Legends]
Arguably the first esports superstar. The man, the myth, the legend himself. To say that this Korean prodigy made the world take notice would truly be an understatement. He has won the World Championship on three different occasions (2013, 2015, 2016), along with two Mid-Season Invitational trophies (2016, 2017) and a mind-blowing eight LCK titles.
Faker is, simply said, the best League of Legends player that has ever taken flesh. The fact that he’s still dominating after so many years doesn’t make much sense either — most esports players fade into obscurity a couple of years after reaching their peak. But Faker is no ordinary individual. No matter the line-up, Faker always manages to blow our minds with split-second decision-making and ability to dominate beyond measure.
If there’s one League of Legends player that is recognizable across the world, it has to be Faker. It is a pseudonym that transcends the game itself, in a way.