A Dust2 Study: How much does NA really need to be paid?

Fifty unpaid talents in the NA esports sphere have offered their opinions and what they would need to make it full time in the CSGO landscape.

More than one of four unpaid ladder players and coaches would accept a salary around or below the Federal minimum wage annual salary of approximately $15,000, according to a survey conducted by Dust2’s Lukas DeWitt. That number expanded above three out of five talents when considering a salary of $30,000.

These findings come from a surveyed audience of 50 ESEA Advanced and ESL Challenger League players and coaches ranging from the ages of 17 to 32, all of which are active in their ladder in some form. Of the surveyed talent, over four-fifths (84%) of them compete in Advanced.

The survey was conducted June 9th to 14th, 2022; respondents came from the qualified talent that opted to partake in the open survey with the intention of influencing potential investors to enter the game and fund their lineup.

The survey has revealed a wealth of information about amateur and semi-professional players’ self-evaluation and what they’re willing to personally sacrifice for opportunities, such as relocation and education.

Talent and their age

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of talent surveyed reported their age to be 22 years or younger. Almost another fifth (16%) reported themselves no older than 25, meaning nearly the entire talent pool (90%) has yet to fall out of their mechanical prime.

Of the 10% of talent listed over 25 years, a majority of them (60%) are active coaches.

Talent and relocation

Nearly the entire surveyed group (94%) unanimously stated they would relocate to another state to play CS for a salary, with just three players (6%) stating the opposite, that they would not relocate for an opportunity as a salaried gig.

When asked to specify, four-fifths of the talent surveyed (80%) were open to living in any state, with a couple of them (4%) opting to stick with the contiguous states, leaving Alaska and Hawaii out of the question. The rest (16%) had various individual answers regarding this question.

Looking deeper into the specifics of location, the surveyed talent was asked if they would live in a smaller and less populated town as opposed to a large city, as an easy means to curb overhead costs for organizations.

In response, all but one lone talent stated they would move to a smaller town to play salaried CS. For incoming investors, this alleviates pressures that may come with having a team living in a metropolitan area with exorbitant overhead.

Talent and salary

Before discussing valuation as a full-time talent, the surveyors were asked to reveal if they ever received payment for their services in Advanced or ECL. Over half (54%) noted they had never been paid for their efforts in the ladder. Nearly one-third (30%) stated they received payment before, with the amount ranging dependent on a slate of variables pertinent to the situation. Nearly one-fifth (16%) of talent chose not to reveal this information for unknown circumstances.

When annual salary was discussed, over one-fourth (28%) said they would accept a salary of $10,000-20,000, a financial increment close to the current Federal wage of $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000. This number increases to over one-third (36%) after players are asked to consider a wage of $21,000-30,000, meaning over three-fifths of unpaid talent would accept a full-time salary less than the widely debated $15.00 an hour measurement.

Almost a quarter (24%) of talent stated their minimum salary to be $31,000-40,000, marking a large majority (88%) of the group willing to accept $40,000 and less to play full-time CS. Every talent in this threshold also stated they would move to a smaller state, and wasn’t contingent on a large city for living.

The final half-dozen talent stated they would take no less than $41,000 for a full-time salary. Although it cannot be confirmed, it is fair to assume this is a byproduct of the economics experienced with living in a larger, costlier area.

Playing with Monopoly money

Players and talent were given the task of selecting a “fair” monthly salary for Advanced and ECL talent if an injection of finances were to happen. Over one-tenth (14%) agreed Advanced talent shouldn’t have any type of salary. Nearly three-fifths (56%) agreed a monthly salary of $1.00-500 was fair

The numbers wane after the $500 mark, with the least popular salary metric being $501-1,000 (12%). There is a slight increase in votes (18%) when considering a salary of $1,001-2,000.

The optimism for salary improves when asked to consider metrics for ECL talent. Four-fifths of voters have split down the middle in this regard, with half of them (40%) open to accepting $0-1,000 monthly, and the other half (40%) comfortable with $1,001-2,000.

As for the other one-fifth, their (20%) price would hypothetically start at $2,000 in the event an injection of cash appeared in ECL.


When asked, the large majority (90%) of respondents had no issue with the idea of foregoing secondary education for a full-time opportunity.

Only a small portion (10%) stated they would opt against sacrificing education for a full-time paid position.


The average unsalaried Advanced and Challenger League talent in North America is no older than 22, would relocate to any state, as well as live in a smaller, cheaper town to alleviate overhead costs. They have never received payment before and would forego University education as well as other primary responsibilities to accept a full-time annual salary of $10,000-30,000.

Additional comments

I'm currently working as a dishwasher to keep my head afloat while I try to go pro. Whatever this is for I am extremely interested.

Nothing is out of the question for me! I know what I want to do in life, but for me, CS:GO absolutely takes precedence at this point in my life. I’m majoring in computer science and minoring in math, but would put both on hold to pursue CS:GO.

Legit any opportunity to move out with a group of like-minded people and live somewhere that we have our own spaces but doesn't have to be a big house doesn't have to be a big city, as long as its safe, clean and I am able to survive I would be happy. A note to any org or person reading this: I think the most important part about financial investment into this region though is having a good eye for mindset and personalities that are conducive to growth.

I do think ECL getting base-level salaries will help NA considering the current path to Pro League offers no security even if you win the ECL every season at the moment.

Funding ECL the minimum would help me so so so much. Rent and food are all I care about

I have already put college on hold to pursue CS full time right now and all my teammates have quit their jobs. We are all full-time, uncontracted players looking for the next step as a team. We will make Challenger League this season and something like this would elevate our game even more.

Also read

#1(With 0 replies)
June 28, 2022 01:02PM
Interested study folk!
#2(With 0 replies)
June 28, 2022 02:22PM
#3(With 0 replies)
June 28, 2022 03:35PM
really interesting read
#4(With 0 replies)
June 28, 2022 05:25PM
3rd "additional comment" is well put. And having such a perspective queues me to think this person is someone with the aforementioned mindset and personality that is conductive to growth.
#5(With 0 replies)
August 3, 2022 12:59PM
Quality content
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