As a professional gamer, you get to travel, compete against the best gamers in the world, and make a living doing it. But is getting paid to play as sweet as it sounds? Meet the Championship Gaming Series' San Francisco team, OPTX. They just walked away from their last tournament with a fat purse of $150,000 after kicking ass in Counter-Strike: Source, Forza Motorsport 2, Dead or Alive 4, and FIFA 08.
How do you become a pro gamer and can you make a good living doing it? Are Italians better lovers? What do gaming gods eat for breakfast? We like to tackle tough topics here at GamesRadar, so we decided to take our super serious questions about what it's really like to be a professional gamer straight to San Francisco OPTX.
Above: General Manager Kat Hunter watches Dead or Alive 4 player Chris Harris concentrate
The Championship Gaming Series (CGS) holds scouting combines to recruit the best gamers before the start of each season. When the CGS held their inaugural combine at the Playboy Mansion in 2007, top players flocked there for the chance to prove their skills in the hopes that they'd get drafted by one of the general managers. The competition was fierce and there were bunnies aplenty. Only the best of the best got drafted to compete in Counter-Strike: Source, Dead or Alive 4, FIFA 07, and Project Gotham Racing. In 2008, the CGS introduced some changes and switched out FIFA 07 and Project Gotham Racing for FIFA 08 and Forza Motorsport 2.
GamesRadar: How did you wind up playing for OPTX?
Yazan Ammari: Before the CGS combine, our Counter-Strike team was known to the world as EFGaming, which was named after our previous manager's daughter. As leader, I felt it was my priority to work my butt off to make sure our team had a great shot at getting drafted. Before the combine I emailed every general manager a resume and a PowerPoint presentation with different ways to contact me for any questions. Once we hit the event, I introduced myself and the rest of the guys to Kat Hunter. After an interview, which obviously went well, Kat put us up against some teams that she already had prior thoughts about, and we out performed them. At the Playboy Mansion - where the draft occurred - we were 36th, the very last draft pick, and I have never been more excited.
Laurent Keoula: We heard the CGS was hosting a combine, so my team prepared and attended it. We ended up placing 5th at the tournament and won most of our challenge matches. At the end of the combine, Kat was the only CGS manager that showed interest in us. She interviewed us the night before the draft and I guess we made a good impression. Kat went on to draft us the next day as the last pick of the draft.
Alessandro Avallone: Well, I went to the North American combine in 2007, played a few matches against other American players and I did an interview with the San Francisco General Manager, Kat Hunter. I personally really wanted to be on this team from the start and after two fantastic years with [OPTX], I can't see myself wearing another jersey.
Above: Alessandro "stermy^" Avallone hails from Andora, Italy and has been winning tournaments since he was 16
GR: Any advice to young gamers interested in doing what you do?
Garett Bambrough: The only advice I would give to young gamers is to stay in school and make sure you do well. I see a lot of kids that play a lot of videogames like I did when I was younger but not pay attention to school and get bad grades. The reality is that getting paid for gaming is amazing, but it's really hard and it takes a long time to get to that level. Having a backup plan - like an education - for if you don't make it, is a great idea.
Yazan Ammari: Tons. Inform your parents on everything that is going on with you, your team, and the league. Get them into the league and get their support. Practice, find the right group of teammates, and lastly, push yourself. Don't think you can pick up a game practice a lot of hours and think you can win money. You have to really love the game you play, and that love is the same thing that drives you to win.
Kevin Uribe: Stay in school. It's very hard to become a pro-gamer, so dropping out of school just to game is probably not the brightest idea. If you're really good at a certain game, make sure you keep playing it a lot. Compete in various events to help start up a resume. If you're into racing games, you can easily be noticed by posting fast times on the leaderboards. The top racers usually know each other.
Above: Laurent "Warmach1ne" Keoula enjoys playing basketball. He has also played Quake 3 and other first-person shooters competitively