Playing video games for a living, having your name featured in gaming publications, MTV, thousands of websites, having fans and groupies sounds like the dream job. Here’s a list of video gaming over-achievers that succeeded in this industry and are making serious money too.
Dennis “Thresh” Fong
No list of most accomplished world class gamers should ignore Dennis Fong, the Ferrari Tournament guy. His claim to fame is winning the famed Red Annihilation tournament in 1997 and subsequently John Carmack’s Ferrari 328 which became solid evidence that there’s a future in this to all non-believers back in the early days of professional gaming competitions. The 32 year old Hong Kong born gaming celebrity Fong has been hailed as the Michael Jordan of video games receiving numerous awards and mentions in mainstream media. He played his game right and he invested the approximately $100.000 he’s made as a professional gamer into online media and social platforms and today he is regarded as the most financially fulfilled player-turned-businessman in the competitive gaming scene.
Games he’s most famous for: Doom I and II, Quake I, II and III and StarCraft
Platform he’s most played on : PC (exclusively)
Thresh in figures:
102 million – The amount of US Dollars Dennis Fong’s Xfire, an instant messenger and social networking site for gamers was sold to Viacom for;
14 – The number of games Thresh won out of a total of 15 in the final against Entropy for the Ferrari Tournament. In fact, the one game he lost was the only official FPS round he’s ever lost;
32 – Dennis Fong’s current age that makes him the oldest professional gamer on this list.
Tom “Tsquared” Taylor
The high-profile head of Str8 Rippin, one of the most respected teams in the Halo scene, Tsquared’s innovative approach has shaped the trajectory of the game itself . Named Stuff Magazine’s ‘Most Influential Person Under 30′ and appearing on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Tom Taylor elevates the public’s awareness of pro gamers through his cool demeanor and confidence. As a player, ‘T2′ has been a force in the league from the beginning, dominating the North American Major League Gaming scene. He’s currently under a three year contract with the gaming platform giant worth a total of $250,000, but manages to earn between $120,000 and $150,000 each year in prize money and endorsement deals. His most recent claim to fame was appearing on a new Dr. Pepper publicity campaign.
Platform he’s most played on: XBOX although he’s also admittedly played XBOX 360 and Nintendo Wii, “for fun”
Tsquared in figures:
175 million – Dr. Pepper bottles issued across the United States with his face on them;
250,000 – US Dollars for a three year contract, officially the most financially significant contract a pro gamer has ever had in North America;
19 – Tom’s number of mainstream media appearences including an MTV documentary about pro gaming life.
Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen
World Cyber Games victories have led him to be included in the tournament’s hall of fame and during his seven year career of gaming at the highest level he reportedly raised more than $200,000 in prize money which makes the the 24 year old Dutch player the most successful European to star on the international gaming scene. Nicknamed the “King of Orcs” by his large fan base, Manuel Grubby Schenkhuizen is regarded as the world’s best Warcraft III player. After being a part of two other prestigious teams, Grubby has joined the North American clan Evil Geniuses with his fiance Cassandra “Cassandra” Ng.
Games he’s most famous for: Warcraft III and Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
Platform he’s most played on: PC
Grubby in figures:
2009 – The year when Manuel proposed to his fiancee Cassandra, a Singaporean ex-model turned pro gamer at Blizzcon;
5 – The number of WC3L Most Valuable Player awards that Manuel has won in a row;
12 – Is the number of countries where Grubby won 1 vs. 1 tournaments over LAN.
Well known for his intense and focused demeanor during play and his tendency to excel under pressure, “The Lord of Destruction” is a legend in the StarCraft: Brood War obsessed South Korea, being hailed as the best Zerg player in the world if not simply the best StarCraft player ever. Currently under a $110,000 per year contract with team Hwaseung Oz, he’s one of the honored gamers that got to “immortalize” their gaming hand by printing it into a piece of clay which is regarded as being the South Korean Hall of Fame.
Games he’s most famous for: StarCraft: Brood War (exclusively)
Platform he’s most played on: PC (exclusively)
Lee Jae-Dong in figures:
2809 – His December 2009 rating which makes him the current top player in South Korea according to the Korean e-Sports Players Association;
1990 – Jaedong’s birth year which makes him the youngest player to be competing with the top earners in the business;
257 – Wins and 117 losses; his official career track.
Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel
One of the most accomplished cyber athletes on the planet, Johnathan Fatal1ty Wendel is probably the first name that comes to mind when it comes to outstanding achievements in the e-sports world. It can be easily said that his contribution to the professional gaming scene has shaped the competition to what it is today. The 28 year old Missouri born gaming icon has successfully marketed his fame, now owning and managing multiple gaming related businesses, the most prominent being his brand name professional gear online store.
Games he’s most famous for: Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament 2003 or Painkiller (although he fragged in many other one-versus-one death match games)
Platform he’s most played on: PC. In fact, he uses his own brand name equipment, developed by Creative Labs, Intel and other famed manufacturers and he swears by its quality
Fatal1ty in figures:
500,000 – US dollars won in cash and prizes from professional competitions;
672 – Number of frags he got in 60 minutes, landing him a position in the Guinness Book of World Records;
13 – The number of games that Wendel mastered and played at competitive levels, including the very first Quake and finishing up with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2;
5 – That is how many championship titles he won during his career as a professional gamer, including four with the Cyber athlete Professional League and one with the World Cyber Games.