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The Life of a Competitive Gamer

By Matt Bryant
Playstation

What is a competitive gamer?

A competitive gamer is someone who practices to get good at a certain game, or all games, and competes with the best in the world to be the champion at that game. But problems outside gaming are the toughest part, “Being a full-time student and putting school as a priority takes up a vast amount of my time. There isn’t much time for anything aside from school and gaming. But you definitely have to make sacrifices to rise to the top.” Competitive Gamer, Treven Yeager, said.

A competitive gamer travels to the event, whether it’s local tourneys or a major event, to compete for whatever the prize pool may be. When a fan enters the venue, of whatever gaming tournament, the games might include Halo, Call of Duty, StarCraft, League of Legends, or all of them together. Expect a gamer's dream to come true, and to hear the screams of gamers competing against others to be the best. Also, expect to hear the shouts and trash-talking to get into people’s heads. Gamers all-around the venue, whether new to the scene or veteran players, wear their jerseys; representing their sponsors.

The average gamer starts at a young age. According to PBS.org, “there's a rising class of 16-25 year olds who are considering playing video games as a job.” While “the average age of a competitive video gamer is …  about 21 years old.” Competitive gamers might not have the chance to compete due to other situations outside of gaming. Competitive players Jeff “Claveman” Tingley, 22 and Treven “Kinetikz” Yeager, 21, both have 9 to 12 years’ experience. Like most gamers, Tingley and Yeager both go through what most gamers do. Either they work or are a full-time student.

Tingley and Yeager have been teaming together for three years now. Earning a top 64 finish in a 200-team tournament. They obtained sponsorships on the way to help get them to events to compete to show their skill. They are currently sponsored by Bawls Guarana energy drink. They were once sponsored by professional gaming organization, Curse Gaming, but the sponsorship only lasted the year of 2012. Having to go through both work and school does not really leave much time in the day to practice.

One of difficulties of being a competitive gamer is time management. Difficulties in competitive gaming can be multiple challenges and Yeager stated, “Quite honestly there are more [problems] than the average person would assume. Getting multiple people together to accomplish one goal is a task in itself. You also have variables of time zones, people being able to afford to go to the next tournament, and fitting the time to practice gaming around everything else you have in your life. You definitely have to give a little to get a little. There really is a lot that goes into competitive gaming that people don’t understand.”

Competitive gaming is at its highest popularity now and is very successful and has started to build a fan base. There are tournaments all across the world for gaming. There are the local events that give gamers their experience with their particular game. Gamers can use these events to develop their skills. They can take what they have learned to the next level and compete against the pros of their game.

Eric Hewitt, an 18 year-old professional gamer with Major League Gaming stated on PBS.org, “the skills most needed to succeed in professional gaming -- hand-eye coordination, intelligence, fast reflexes -- begin to dwindle by your mid-20s. Whether or not you're the best at the game, you're still old."

To get “Pro” status in competitive gaming is not based on what kind of sponsor a gamer has, but the consistent top placing in events. The different name tournaments are Major League Gaming (MLG), Arena Gaming League (AGL), and Europe Gaming League (EGL). The tourneys have different placing systems to determine pro status. They hold tournaments for multiple games. The average MLG amount in prize money that is given is $75,000 with $50,000 going to the winners of the tournament. The remaining $25,000 is spread around the pros placing two through eight. Getting to the top eight sounds easy if there is not that many teams that show up, but at MLG, close to 200 teams show up and compete at the highest level.

To get to the level of most professional gamers it takes a lot of preparation. Tingley estimated, “Six months to prepare if your teammates are new to competing at events.” Not many teams practice. Some get their teammates last minute at the door of the venue to compete and don’t have a chance to practice.“

Aside from the issue of time and other people lining up, internet connection, and equipment (as in TV, computer, Xbox, headset, controller, etc.) it costs a lot of money to get started. Getting your name out there in the community is quite a struggle too.” Yeager said.

The big discussion in competitive gaming is about whether gaming is a legitimate sport. Most gamers agree that it is a sport, with the competition and sponsorships at its highest to date. Yeager added, “I definitely consider [competitive] gaming a sport. I realize that it may not be as physically demanding as some sports, but it is more physically demanding than others. Also, my opinion on the subject doesn’t matter, because as of a few months ago the United States had officially declared League of Legends as an officially recognized professional sport. That allows players from outside of the United States to get in and out of the country more freely for events.

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