In this day and age, gaming is no longer for the lazy and jobless. It has tuned itself into a legitimate professional career. Being a professional gamer can even pay you two or three times what your current job does. If you’re a top competitor, that is. With payouts as big as $5 million for worldwide gaming competitions, pro gamers seemingly live the lavish and relaxed life we all wish we had. But becoming a pro gamer isn’t how you think it is. These players don’t just get up at noon, get some food, and go play for a million bucks every day. They train, study, and live their game every hour of the day, carefully thinking of new skills and tactics that’ll help defeat the competition; it is a sport after all. Delve into the young but prosperous world of gamer lifestyles across the world to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live, eat, and breathe video games.
Lee “Flash” Young-ho
- Country: South Korea
- Games Played: StarCraft
- Age: 24
Lee “Flash” Young-ho was one of the most dominant StarCraft players in the world. Arguably the best StarCraft player ever, at the age of 14, Lee was already competing professionally when he joined the South Korean KT Rolster StarCraft team. If you don’t know, South Korea’s e-sports industry is huge. So huge, in fact, that they’ve even created a government department to help further develop professional gaming. So, as one of the best players, on one of the best teams, in the most dedicated e-sports country in the world, Lee always had to stay on top of the competition in South Korea’s big leagues. Although he did so successfully all throughout his career—becoming the youngest ever Korean champion at 15, and tying the record for most wins—it came at a high cost. Throughout all the extensive hours of no-sleep gaming, lounging, and repetitive strain on his arms over the years, Lee had to undergo surgery to save his muscles from deforming. Now, he has a half-inch wide scar that starts above his right elbow and goes all the way up over his shoulder. Although most people see this as a lesson to be learned from too much gaming, Lee sees his scar as a symbol of honor. As with professional athletes, injuries happen, so Lee treats this as just another obstacle to hurdle from being the best at what he does. Just as no one can take away the endless amounts of trophies won throughout his career, no one can claim they are more dedicated to the game than he is without having a scar like his to prove it.
Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel
- Country: United States
- Games Played: Quake, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Doom
- Age: 35
This player is one of the first of his kind. As in, the first full-time professional gamer kind. Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel was a pioneer in competitive gaming and still stands as one of the best First-Person Shooter (FPS) gamers in the world. Johnathan made the move from amateur to pro gamer when, after winning 4,000 dollars at a tournament and becoming world champion at the age of 18, he signed with a sponsor and made over $100,000 in his first year competing. When asked about his day to day training regiment before a tournament, he said, “I trained eight hours a day or more every day, seven days a week, for a major tournament. For me it’s hard work. I have to play like 18 months or two years straight, usually eight hours a day.” That’s more hours than the average American’s work week. Unlike most pro gamers, Johnathan doesn’t just focus on one game, he masters multiple. Being able to compete in more than one FPS game gave John more opportunities to win money and prizes. Now 35, Johnathan owns his own gaming accessories company, fully funded by his winnings, sponsorships, and partnerships during his professional gaming career.
Ethan “iaguz” Zugai
- Country: Australia
- Games Played: Red Alert 3, Company of Heroes, StarCraft, Command and Conquer
- Age: 25
Ethan “iaguz” Zugai is a multi-disciplined professional strategy game player. A “Jack of all Strategy Games”, Ethan plays professionally across a plethora of real-time strategy (RTS) games. He has been playing strategy games like Dune 2 since the age of 3, so it’s no surprise he’s become that involved in so many different games. Ethan has delved into RTS games like Red Alert and StarCraft, but has also become very proficient at tabletop games like Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40,000. This didn’t come easy, of course. Professional gamers focusing on one single game practice for over 8 hours per day, so imagine how much time “iaguz” had to train to become a top player across multiple games. However, Ethan says it’s that same intense dedication to his 12-hour-a-day training regiment that appeals to him. Like any athlete, he is dedicated to his sport and wants to be the best, so he trains just as much as they do. Although Ethan may have been the one of his country’s best Red Alert 3 players, the amount of support for e-sports in Australia is very little. So, for an aspiring Australian pro gamer like Ethan, finding a sponsor to be on his team is extremely difficult due to the lack of following e-sports has in his home country. Nevertheless, Ethan is still a very active member in the international e-sports scene, still competing in StarCraft competitions and even commentating and editing over other gameplay.
There you have it, gamer profiles from across the world for those of us wondering how the gods of pro gaming live. It’s not the stereotypical gamer life. It’s hard work, long hours, and constant competition just to stay relevant. As with any sport, if you want to be the best, then you have to train like the best. Just don’t get caught trash-talking one of these pros, or you WILL have the full fury of a competitive gamer coming at you from all spawn points.