Age is just a number, so they say. And Benedict Ward is certainly not letting his young age get in the way of his professional gaming ambitions.
The 13-year-old Brit goes by the name of “MrKcool” in mobile-based MOBA game Vainglory, and is competing professionally at the European Winter Championship in London this weekend.
With an overall prize pool of $25,000 up for grabs, Benedict is hoping his side – German team Rebirth of an Empire – will ‘make a big impact’ this weekend. They already won their first match against G2 Kinguin this evening.
He started playing Vainglory after seeing it in the recommended section on the App Store and was soon noticed by some of the professional teams and players.
As MrKcool goes up against older players in the tournaments (those usually in their late teens or early twenties), does the age gap bother him?
“During the game, it’s not really on my mind,” he told eSports News UK. “To me, during the game they’re this hero or that hero, and not the person they are. But it’s quite intimidating. When I first arrived here in London, seeing all of them and them being much taller than me and stuff, it was quite intimidating.
“But I think I’m pretty comfortable with it all, because most of the players that do play are older than me, and all the teams I’ve been in have adults in them too.
“In terms of the game, age doesn’t matter – it’s just how well you play.”
While he admits it may be hard for him to attend tournaments in countries outside of the UK, Benedict is optimistic regarding a future career in eSports.
“If my parents let me, I’d love to keep developing in this game,” he said. “Hopefully we can win here and keep that streak going into the future.”
Some eSports games have age restrictions, for example in League of Legends players must be 17 to take part in the LCS.
Vainglory has a more relaxed stance on the age of pro players – developers Super Evil Megacorp say that the game is 8+. A recent tournament in the US required players to be 14 or over to participate at the LAN event, due to the rules of the specific venue, however the developers allowed younger players to take part online.
Benedict isn’t the youngest pro player in this game, either. A player from the US who goes by the name of DNZio is 12 years old.
Check out our full video interview with Benedict “MrKcool” Ward below:
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Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.