For most of us, the opportunity to turn a hobby or interest in to a full time career is nothing more than a dream. But that hasn’t stopped everyone from chasing such a seemingly unobtainable goal. There are endless examples of sportspeople for instance who have turned an enjoyable pastime into a professional occupation. But what about video gaming and poker?
Some people simply enjoy watching movies, whilst others have developed this interest into a job writing about movies – or even writing the movie themselves. Some have dabbled with culinary techniques in the kitchen and turned this into a career within the food industry as a cook, chef or baker.
If you’re good at something and have a talent, then there is always a way in which this talent can quite literally work for you. It may even surprise you to hear that many gamers have done exactly this, turning what was once simply an addictive hobby or leisurely distraction into an extremely rewarding career – and one that quite literally pays off.
Take 29-year old PokerStars Pro Randy Lew for example. During his school and college years, the Californian took part in competitive gaming events, playing fighting titles such as Marvel vs. Capcom, Street Fighter and Tekken. He managed to finish in 5th place at the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) in both 2003 and 2004, but it was during his college years that Lew also developed an interest in poker. He gained experience and soon was competing online, playing on around 24 tables at any one time. During his poker playing days he went from amateur to professional and went on to amass an astonishing $2,600,000+ in winnings from playing poker over at PokerStars, as well as almost a million dollars in live events.
Let us take a look at some other thriving gamers who have managed to take their innocent fun hobby and turn it in to a well-paid living. These talented gamers have strived to be the best and play the best, and have tried to develop their skills by taking on different games on different platforms, even competing in teams alongside other talented players whilst still achieving great success.
Jung Jong-hyun AKA MVP
Arguably the best StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty player in the world is Korean professional player Jung Jong-hyun, better known by his handle MVP. His biggest victory to date was when he was able to pick up a massive $50,000 payday when he won the BlizzCon tournament back in 2011. He has also picked up numerous triumphs in various GOMeXP Global StarCraft II League (GSL) events and has even won the league four times, which makes him the most prolific player ever to grace the league. The 24-year old Korean, also dubbed the Game Genie Terran, has managed to win over $404,000 to date from 50 notable tournaments and gaming events.
Jang Jae Ho AKA Moon
Korean professional gamer Jang Jae Ho has participated in more than 80 tournaments and has accumulated nearly $440,000 from all events. Incredibly, the now 28-year old managed to accrue $12,799 from just two tournaments before he had even turned 18 years old. “Moon” has become a household name in the gaming world, finding success with two different Blizzard games.
He first found success competing in tournaments playing high fantasy real-time strategy game WarCraft III in 2003 which he continued to do for the next 10 years. In fact, he has financially become the most successful players in WarCraft III history, picking up over $356,000 in spoils to date.
Next up in 2011 he turned his attentions to another popular strategy Blizzard title StarCraft II where he continued to pick up winnings, although never actually taking first place in the competitions he participated in, and always being relegated to the runner-up spot.
Johnathan Wendel AKA Fatal1ty
One of the most recognisable names on our list has to be that of the now retired 33-year old American professional gamer and entrepreneur Johnathan Wendel. Better known to many by his alias ‘Fatal1ty’, Wendel has managed to acquire around $454,000 in prize money from a host of professional competitions and events over the years during his career, most of which were won during his involvement in the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL).
Wendel’s success has been found in his ability to adapt his skills which has allowed him to compete and win playing a number of different games. His keenest interest has been in first-person shooter (FPS) video games; he has picked up several big tournament titles as well as many other top five finishes in various championships and events held for a variety of popular FPS games.
His first big notable win saw the successful gamer pick up $40,000 back in 2001 when he won the CPL World Championship playing Alien versus Predator 2. He followed up with wins playing Doom 3 and DreamCatcher Interactive’s Painkiller until he rested on popular seminal multiplayer deathmatch franchise Quake, picking up titles and winnings playing id Software’s QuakeWorld (QW), Quake III Arena and Quake 4.
Jonathan Berg AKA Loda
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A popular figure on the professional gaming circuit is Swedish team player Jonathan Berg. He has already notched up more than $401,000 is winnings from all the various eSport events he has played in. He has managed to take first place in a staggering 23 tournaments to date. Loda’s game of choice is Dota 2, the 2013 online multiplayer game which followed up Defense of the Ancients (Dota) and he served as a battle arena mod for the Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and also its official expansion pack Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne.
Loda has created, captained and played on 12 different teams, including Counter Logic Gaming, Fnatic and Team Zenith, and in 2013 he joined the Alliance as captain. The Alliance, founded by Team Razer, was set up in order to help promote and support both Scandinavian and European eSports across the world. It was this captaincy that really drew attention to his career and his professional standing.
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