Seventeen-year-old North American Overwatch player Jay “sinatraa” Won has signed a $150,000-per-year contract with NRG eSports, ESPN reports. The contract came after a bidding war between NRG and Cloud9 raised sinatraa’s salary by $50,000.
In addition to his base salary, sinatraa will earn at least 50 percent of all team bonuses. Like those of all professional Overwatch players, sinatraa’s contract entitles him to health insurance and a retirement plan. Because sinatraa is underage, his mother signed the contract for him.
Neither sinatraa nor NRG has commented on the deal.
The young gamer’s new salary is triple the Overwatch league minimum of $50,000.
Sinatraa became a free agent after Selfless Gaming disbanded in early July.
Selfless won the monthly, online Overwatch Rumble tournament in May and took home $3,000. The team finished second at the Alienware Monthly Melee just three days earlier to earn another $3,000. Throughout 2017, the team has won a combined $18,386 in prize money. From February 20 to March 16, the team entered eight tournaments and won them all.
Many industry experts count sinatraa amongst the best damage-per-second (DPS) Overwatch players in the world today. He has played and will continue to play on North America’s World Cup Overwatch team, which will compete at BlizzCon in Anaheim from November 3-4. Last year, that tournament awarded $288,000 in prize money. The North American team will open play against South Korea on the third.
Founded in 2015 by Sacramento Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, NRG Gaming fields teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Smite, Hearthstone, For Honor, Rocket League, and Vainglory. The organization is committed to revolutionizing the professional gaming industry.
“Led by the expertise of traditional sports and the tech biz, NRG Esports is looking to set precedence in the industry of eSports,” the company’s website says. “We look to set the standard within our beloved space; whether it’d be high-class management or jaw-dropping media, but above all else, camaraderie and competition. We don’t want to just build a great team, we want to build a legacy.”
Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and baseball stars Jimmy Rollins, Alex Rodriguez, and Ryan Howard all hold stakes in and serve as advisors to NRG.
NRG created its Overwatch team on August 3, 2016, but the team has been inactive since it failed to qualify for the Overwatch Contenders Season Zero: North America event in early June. In total, NRG’s Overwatch team has won just under $50,000.
Former Selfless co-owner Brad Rajani, who coached sinatraa at Selfless, now coaches the team.
According to esportsearnings.com, Overwatch is the 13th highest-paying eSports game. Since Blizzard Entertainment released the game on May 24, 2016, professional players have garnered just under $3.9 million in prize money. The largest prize pool in Overwatch history was $300,000, paid out at the Overwatch Open in Atlanta in late September 2016.
The world’s highest-earning Overwatch player (considering only winnings, not salary) has taken home just over $43,000 in prize money.
By contrast, the world’s highest-earning gamer has won $3.37 million playing his game of choice, Dota 2. Forty-four Dota 2 players worldwide have made six figures playing the game.
Eighty of the top 100 highest-earning professional gamers won the lion’s share of their earnings playing Dota 2, an online battle arena game. Prize pools for Dota 2 tournaments often exceed $1 million. Just under $24.7 million in prize money changed hands at 2017’s International Dota 2 Championship.
The International, as the tournament is known, has run annually since 2011. That year, the prize pool was $1.6 million. The prize pool increased to eight figures in 2014 and has since doubled again.
But, Dota is over three years older than Overwatch, and Overwatch may well be on the rise. According to E-Sports Earnings, 1,886 players play Overwatch professionally, making the game the sixth most-played among professionals.
Engadget says sinatraa’s new contract makes him the highest-paid Overwatch pro.
Featured Image via Flickr/Marco Verch