eSports players are the sports stars of the future. In our modern world, people pack massive arenas to watch them playing video games. In a billion-dollar industry these pro gamers, some being teenagers, are getting their wins and stacking up cash. We are talking about 6-figure salaries. Welcome to the world of eSports.
The flip side of eSports illustrated by Team Liquid
For these 5 guys gaming is life. “Taco” (Epitacio de Melo), “NAF” (Keith Markovic), “Twistzz” (Russel Van Dulken), “nitrO” (Nick Cannella) and “ELIGE” (Jonathan Jablonowski) – together they are Team Liquid. “ELIGE” is one of the top-ranked gamers on the globe, who started playing at the age of 4. By the time he reached seventeen, he signed onto his first professional eSports team. In 2018 they were about to compete in one of the world’s best tournaments in New York with a prize pool of $250 000.
Their main activity is a game called Counter-Strike – a 5 on 5 shooter competition. Successful results depend on a seamless team and strategy. The team’s coach is also former pro player – Wilton Prado (“zews”). They travel around the world, get all across the USA. When they are not on the road, most US teams return to Los Angeles, which is the unofficial home of eSports in the US. Their franchise is paying for them to live in mansions fit for kings. It’s a gamer’s paradise, including a training room, a gym with a pool, a court outside, table tennis, etc.
Team Liquid is a little different. The team members live in their own apartments where they train – in a 9 thousand square foot state-of-the-art facility called The Alienware training facility. Steve Arhancet, the co-owner of Team Liquid, says that their gamers want to have the best. Every detail has been carefully considered: from a personal chef to a pro-level supporting cast. Arhancet shares that they have sports psychologists, mental coaches, physical therapists – an army dedicated to ensuring that players up their performance.
The Team Liquid franchise has some serious backing with investors like NBA Legends Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.
The firm employs dozens of players competing in 14 different games. One of the Team Liquid members explains what he does for a living in the following way: “I would describe it like we are playing the NBA or something, you rise up through the ranks, like minor leagues… and you are only focusing on one game, because usually when I say I am a professional video game player, they think that I play multiple games. But I’m really just focusing all my time on one.”
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eSports vs. studying
ELIGE, like several of his teammates, started college but left school when it became clear his childhood hobby could become his real-life job. According to him, depending on the game a pro player can definitely make a million or two in a year.
Now major universities are trying to get them on the action.
20-year-old college student Emily Oeser (“AbsoluteNaCI”) is a captain of her college’s OVERWATCH team. She is one of the few female gamers in this male-dominated sport. Originally she started perusing a career of music but then all changed when she found the school with launching eSports team. SUNY Canton is one of the growing number of schools that are investing big money in new facilities and creating academic majors in gaming.
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Back in the big league's tournament at Brooklyn Barclays: the billion-dollar industry is on full display. As Team Liquid enters the arena, the crowd is electric. Then it’s game time: attention is high, each millisecond counts. Fans are interested and watching, some are holding their breaths. But in the end – Team Liquid was defeated. ELIGE remembers this tournament as the worst defeat in his career. Despite the tough loss, guys put on their game faces and went out to meet their fans.
“We haven’t really had our biggest victory yet but we are really on the course for that, and I’m certain we are gonna have it very soon”, said ELIGE.
And he was right: Team Liquid bounced back kicking off 2019 with a new trophy winning the first championship of the year.
As mentioned earlier, the winners of the League of Legends World Championship 2019 turned out to be the FunPlus Phoenix team from China.
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