So youre young and broke. You like video games. Chances are, you could probably get a job in fast food and that be that. But if you’re a fan of League of Legends, people have made careers out of tournaments and even streaming. How? Well, esports are becoming big business. Dont believe us? Well, one League of Legends player ended up with an $800,000 dollar streaming contract.
1/10 The Player
Wei “CaoMei” Han-Dong would have owned a shoe store if he hadn’t gotten into League of Legends. An avid gamer, the 22 year old had been playing videogames since he was in middle school. When he began playing in League of Legends in high school, along with it came financial recognition for his love of games.
Within 3 months of playing League of Legends, CaoMei was invited to join the World Elite Club, a pioneering esports organization based in Shanghai, China. And from there, he began competing in tournaments.
2/10The Pro-Gamer Life
But it’s not all fun and games. For tournament competitors like CaoMei, there’s a lot of risk involved in the tournament life. Should a player slip up or have one bad game that can mean the end of their career in esports.
Many tournament players like CaoMei train for hours on end in order to stay on the top of their game. At one point, CaoMei was sleeping for less than 4 hours a night. If he wasn’t eating or sleeping, he was training.
In comparison to the tournament life, streaming is a much easier and relaxed life. CaoMei was earning more money. As a competitor, he earned $654 dollars a month. Now streaming, he can earn about $800 thousand dollars a year.
After he retired from the tournament scene, he was offered a streaming contract. People watch, listen to him joke and talk over the gameplay. There’s no pressure, no stress.
4/10 What’s the Deal With Esports?
And it’s all part of a growing esports industry. Especially big in Korea and China, esports regularly draw in thousands of fans. In China, esports are even a recognized sport. As one of the biggest new markets for gaming, there’s a lot of potential for gamer interest in China.
Major League Gaming, a growing organization, plans on building one of the first ever gaming arenas, right in China. There’s a lot of interest in competitive games and players like CaoMei are just part of a growing industry.
5/10 How Big of a Business is it Anyway?
In China, PC online games are part of an industry that pulled in about $9 billion dollars by the end of 2012. It’s one of the largest markets for online gaming, next to Korea. Korea has already established itself as a major player on the competitive gaming market.
Many Chinese players have been signed with contracts of up to $160 thousand dollars. Internet cafes and gaming clubs sign hefty contracts in order to attract stellar players. With thousands of fans, CaoMei regularly pulls in about 100 thousand players just by streaming alone, esports and online gaming is still growing in China.
6/10 Twitch, Azubu, and the Popularity of Streaming
Streaming services have experienced much attention and popularity on a global scale. In terms of page views alone, streaming service Twitch was one of the biggest websites around. You’ve probably heard of Twitch Plays of Pokemon, the grand social experiment which showcased whether thousands of players could collaborate and play Pokemon together.
Amazon is set to buy Twitch, in a $1.1 billion dollar deal. Apparently, watching people play a game is a big business. And in China, it’s CaoMei’s daily life. 32 million people signed in to watch a League of Legends tournament, more than the number of people who watched the Sopranos, 24 or Breaking Bad combined.
7/10 The Gaming Industry
Globally, the gaming market took in over 65 billion dollars. There’s no doubt that the global gaming market is a major player. While gaming is still seen by the public at large as a “child’s toy”, millions of people play and, yes, stream annually. It’s becoming an industry to rival Hollywood.
It’s serious business. And for players like CaoMei, gaming is a lifestyle.
8/10 The Fans
For CaoMei, his success lives, and dies, on how willing fans are to watch him play. Luckily, fans seem pretty willing. So long as CaoMei continues to stream for 90 hours a month, he’ll continue to keep his lifestyle afloat.
Female fans have told him that they want to “have a baby with you”. And the fans flock for sure to stream.
9/10 Don’t Pick Up The Controller Just Yet
But the life of a pro gamer or a streamer isn’t all easy. Life in the esports arena is short, with most players having a career lifespan of up to five years. With most players fresh out of high school, with no secondary education, if they can’t make it in esports, it can spell disaster.
It’s far from being the comfortable, easy life you would expect. To be a professional gamer, few raise up to the lofty heights gamers like CaoMei have reached. But if you can reach the top, the rewards are great, temporarily.
10/10 More Popular Content
Dude got very very lucky.