Competitive video games could be as big as Major League Baseball — here’s what it’s like to be an e-sports athlete at the highest level


esports, Overwatch League, dhaK,

E-sports — which is to say, competitive, professional online video gaming — have exploded in popularity in recent years.

In fact, experts have predicted that e-sports viewership is likely to surpass that of traditional sports leagues, including the NBA and MLB, by 2020. Indeed, esports revenue is likely to climb to more than $900 million this year as television channels like ESPN continue to incorporate e-sports into their daily lineups, and streaming services like Amazon’s Twitch become more mainstream.

In a world where competitive video games have the potential to be as lucrative an industry as professional sports, the title “pro gamer” has evolved massively since the ’90s, where a relatively small group of die-hard gamers played in relatively unnoticed tournaments for community notoriety and occasional prize money.

In the modern world of e-sports, pro gamers are salaried employees with medical benefits and 401-ks, and who have personal nutritionists and fitness trainers. They are celebrities and role models for the fans who purchase jerseys and other merchandise in their honor. They also happen to play the same video game for 8 to 10 hours a day.

Business Insider got to interview professional gamers who play in the Overwatch League, competing at the highest levels of Blizzard’s acclaimed and best-selling competitive first-person shooter “Overwatch.”

We got an inside look at the ups and downs of their everyday lives and, the journeys that they’ve taken to get to the highest level for their game of choice.

SEE ALSO: This 26-year-old makes $500,000 every month playing ‘Fortnite’ in his bedroom — here’s how he does it

During an average week, teammates spend the majority of the day practicing “Overwatch” for hours at a time.

“Practices are really hard and really demanding,” said Daniel “dhaK” Martinez, a professional player on the San Francisco Shock, one of the twelve permanent teams in the Overwatch League.

Martinez said that on a typical practice day, he and his teammates play two hours at a time, for two or three times a day. These practice hours include running drills and skirmishes. The practice time give the players time to perfect or experiment with different in-game characters, called “heroes.”

While the notion of getting paid to play video games all day may seem like a fantasy for many gamers, the reality of the training sessions can be both physically and mentally taxing, explained Jacob “Jake” Lyon, who plays on the league’s Houston Outlaws.

For example, Lyon said he struggles with severe wrist pains thanks to the long hours spent working a keyboard and mouse in practice, and has to wear “geriatric gloves” while sleeping and regularly do special stretches to reduce strain.

“That’s definitely not something I thought I’d have to worry about at 21,” he laughed.

Match days come with the extra stresses of competing for a live audience of millions, doing press and meeting with fans, says Martinez.

“It’s definitely surreal—knowing you’re playing for tens of thousands of people, all watching from home,” said Lyon, who plays for the Houston Outlaws.

Any level of …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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