10 of the richest Twitch streamers and what their success can teach us
Gamers have become a force to be reckoned with in recent years with the rise in popularity of esports tournaments and streaming platforms like Twitch providing both visibility and income opportunities. But how much do the richest Twitch streamers really make?
Twitch may not offer as much variety in content as platforms like TikTok or YouTube, but its top earners rival those of the former, and many Twitch creators either started on or have continued to build an audience on YouTube as well.
So with Twitch streamers among the top-earning content creators across all platforms, let’s take a look at who they are, and what we can learn from their experiences.
1. Ninja (Richard Tyler Blevins)
Twitch followers: 18.5 million
Estimated net worth: $40 million
What he’s known for: Fortnite
His story: Blevins began his career playing Halo 3 in a competitive setting and ultimately rose to fame streaming Fortnite. He has since become one of the most popular and successful streamers on the platform, known for his high-energy personality and skilled gameplay.
In 2018, he broke two Twitch records—becoming the first to surpass three million followers and pulling the largest audience for a non-tournament stream when he played Fortnite with Travis Scott, Drake, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The next year, he was one of several top streamers who temporarily left Twitch for Mixer in a deal reportedly worth $20-30 million, but signed an exclusive multi-year deal with the former after Mixer shut down. He has also appeared on The Masked Singer, partnered with MasterClass, and run numerous charity streams.
What we can learn from his page: Blevins has courted a number of controversies over the years, from petty squabbles with other players to doxing a donor over a racist screenname. But the most notable has been his refusal to play with female streamers, claiming that decision is out of respect for his wife.
This has created backlash largely due to how female streamers have struggled to gain the same opportunities as male gamers on Twitch, and being locked out of collabs with the top streamer over something that should be a non-issue hasn’t gone over well with a lot of people. While it may not have impacted Blevins’ bottom line, aspiring Twitch streamers should consider their approach to collaborating both while they are growing their only channel and once they have the ability to help others grow theirs.
2. Shroud (Michael Grzesiek)
Twitch followers: 10.4 million
Estimated net worth: $20 million
What he’s known for: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valorant, PUBG: Battlegrounds
His story: Grzesiek got his start as a professional esports player, focusing on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. After retiring, he continued to stream games on Twitch, where he built up a large following thanks in part to his laid-back style. Like Ninja, he briefly moved over to Mixer, but opted to return to Twitch and continue building his following both there and on YouTube after Microsoft shut the platform down. He has since also returned to esports, signing with the Sentinels to play Valorant.
What we can learn from his page: Grzesiek has done a good job maintaining a base on both Twitch and YouTube, ensuring he has options should something happen to his account on either platform. Additionally, he reportedly declined a hefty offer from Facebook Gaming after Mixer shut down, but his decision to return to Twitch instead is a reminder that following a short-term pay day can have its benefits, but long-term strategy is ultimately more important.
3. TimTheTatman (Timothy John Betar)
Twitch followers: 7 million
Estimated net worth: $10 million
What he’s known for: Fortnite, Overwatch, Call of Duty: Warzone
His story: Betar was an early adopter of Twitch, beginning his streaming career back in 2012 and growing a loyal following both there and on YouTube with his gameplay. It was ultimately the combination of Fortnite‘s release and his collaborations with other rising creators that caused Betar to rise to the top of Twitch’s ranks, bringing brand deals from the likes of Chipotle, where he briefly had a custom burrito, and Herman Miller.
What we can learn from his page: In 2021, Betar actually signed an exclusivity deal with YouTube gaming and left Twitch, becoming one of several high-profile streamers to do so. How it plays out in the long term remains to be seen, but he has been open about how the move allows him to make more money for less streaming time, and thus spend more time with his family. Building a brand and following on any social media platform initially takes a lot of time and dedication, but Betar’s willingness to reprioritize highlights how all that early hustling should be in service of later goals, rather than a permanent lifestyle.
4. xQc (Felix Lengyel)
Twitch followers: 11.5 million
Estimated net worth: $9 million
What he’s known for: Overwatch
His story: Like several other top streamers, Lengyel has bounced between streaming and playing esports competitively, his particular focus being Overwatch. After returning to Twitch full-time, his channel became one of the most watched on the platform. The October 2021 leak that revealed how much income a number of top streamers had earned from Twitch for subscriptions, certain donations, and ad revenue showed that he was the highest-earning individual streamer, raking in over $8 million in the prior two years.
What we can learn from his page: Lengyel has faced bans both from Twitch and from specific games time and time again over the years, including a permanent ban from League of Legends. He has faced similar reprimands during tournaments as well, even having to forfeit his winnings on one occasion. Outrageous behavior can pay off when your income relies on vying for attention on the internet, but jeopardizing streams of revenue frequently isn’t worth it, particularly for up-and-coming streamers, and streamers who want to build a reputation that will keep them in the game for many years to come.
5. summit1g (Jaryd Russell Lazar)
Twitch followers: 6.2 million
Estimated net worth: $8 million
What he’s known for: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Grand Theft Auto V
His story: Once considered the most-followed streamer on Twitch, Lazar has been streaming gameplay since the days of Justin.tv, and previously played competitive esports professionally. He frequently uploads highlights of his streams to YouTube and has gained a reputation on Twitch for his consistent schedule and varied gameplay on Twitch, where he is under a multi-year deal.
What we can learn from his page: Lazar is one of many Twitch streamers who has been subject to “swatting” in recent years—a dangerous form of harassment that involves someone anonymously providing a “tip” to the police about a crime going down to try to coerce armed officers to show up at the target’s address. He has shared his frustrations about how this has happened to him repeatedly, and in 2021, he had to move his dad to a new house mere months after finally being able to buy one for him because of the “prank.” Unfortunately, streamers with all levels of recognizability can fall victim to swatting, and taking precautions to keep your personal information hidden before finding success—while not guaranteed to prevent an attack—is good advice for any aspiring creator.
6. Tfue (Turner Tenney)
Twitch followers: 11.3 million
Estimated net worth: $6 million
What he’s known for: Fortnite, Call of Duty
His story: Tenney has found success on both Twitch and YouTube, largely through streaming Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Fall Guys gameplay, though he also used to upload vlogs and gaming-adjacent videos on his YouTube channel. A brief stint with esports organization FaZe Clan helped grow his audience, as did his collabs with other gamers, although he ultimately left FaZe after a year.
What we can learn from his page: Two controversies come to mind when people talk about Tenney. His 2018 ban from Fortnite for selling accounts with rare outfits, which is against the terms and conditions of the game, and his claim that FaZe Clan was limiting his career options and income as a part of the contract he signed to join the group. The latter ultimately resulted in Tenney suing FaZe and FaZe countersuing for various alleged violations of their deal—Tenney’s suit was dismissed and FaZe’s was settled. Both situations drive home the importance of reading any binding agreements thoroughly and hiring a lawyer to do so once the stakes get high enough. Following a game’s terms of service is imperative, and with content creator groups being a relatively new thing, the contracts can be predatory or simply not worth the benefit they provide you as an individual.
7. Ludwig (Ludwig Ahgren)
Twitch followers: 3.1 million
Estimated net worth: $6.4 million
What he’s known for: Super Smash Bros, Among Us
His story: Though Ahgren has only been streaming on Twitch since 2018, his audience quickly grew, due in part to his frequent collaborations with fellow streamers and playing games like Super Smash Bros and Mario Party 2. In 2021, he livestreamed on Twitch for 31 days as part of a “subathon,” which brought in a large amount of money for both himself and charity, and also caused him to break the record for most concurrent subscribers on Twitch.
What we can learn from his page: Coming up with creative stunts to draw attention and increase your audience can pay off dramatically if they are done well. Ahgren’s subathon is still discussed among Twitch viewers as an impactful moment in the platform’s short history, and the benefit it had to his own brand is clear.
8. AuronPlay (Raúl Álvarez Genes)
Twitch followers: 14.5 million
Estimated net worth: $5 million
What he’s known for: Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V
His story: Genes joined YouTube in 2006, gaining an audience for his commentary on other YouTubers and videos on the platform while also becoming a magnet for conflict due to his content. He later switched gears to focus on humor and, gradually, gaming, both of which earned him an even larger following. Gameplay later became his full focus, as he grew to become the second most-followed streamer on Twitch.
What we can learn from his page: Reinvention is key to long-term success on social media platforms, as trends, engagement, and the types of content viewers consume shift over time. Genes’ ability to adapt has served him well, as did phasing out content from his primary YouTube channel before moving into full-time streaming.
9. Nickmercs (Nick Kolcheff)
Twitch followers: 6.6 million
Estimated net worth: $4 million
What he’s known for: Fortnite
His story: Kolcheff has had a steady audience since making a name for himself as a professional Gears of War player in the late 2000s. After getting started on Twitch, he shot to a new level thanks to breaking the world record for total kills in Fortnite with his squad, although they have since been surpassed. He currently works with and is a co-owner of FaZe Clan, with whom he appeared on the first cover of Sports Illustrated to feature an esports team.
What we can learn from his page: Many streamers become popular regardless of how good they actually are at the games they play. For viewers, it’s often more about how engaging they are to watch, what unique content they bring to the table, and audience interaction. While Kolcheff checks those boxes, it’s notable that his record-breaking kills in Fortnite garnered him increased attention on Twitch— finding a way to stand out or be talked about in a way that other streamers aren’t is almost guaranteed to bring in new viewers.
10. DrLupo (Benjamin Lupo)
Twitch followers: 4.5 million
Estimated net worth: $3 million
What he’s known for: Destiny, Fortnite, Escape from Tarkov
His story: Lupo started his streaming career with Destiny, but rose to prominence after jumping to Fornite, where he later broke a world record for vehicle trick points. Since then, he has continued building his fanbase by collaborating with top streamers like Ninja and TimTheTatman and running streams to benefit charity. Like Betar, in 2021, Lupo opted to make the move to YouTube Gaming to make more time for his family.
What we can learn from his page: Lupo credited his existing subscriber count on YouTube for making the decision to sign an exclusive deal with the platform a “no-brainer,” adding that it would give him the opportunity to try new things as a content creator and help him work towards his mental health goals. Building up multiple platforms early in your career seems to be one of the most beneficial lessons any aspiring content creator can take to heart, and this is a great example of why.