My lofty aspirations as a child amounted to getting paid to play video games. I didn’t want to be a policeman or firefighter, 12-year-old me wanted to be: Jung Jong Hyun. This ungodly being has returned to us from the future to foreshadow what is to become of sporting. Jung dominates one of the only sports where you make up your own nickname: Starcraft II. Jung will henceforth be referred to as his handle MVP.
Let me tell you a bit about Starcraft. It is the most popular competitive videogame on Earth. At the center of this popularity is the nation of South Korea, where matches are broadcast on live TV, streamed over the internet, casted by nerds professionals and viewed through the spectacles of millions. The life of a young Korean prospect is lived entirely in training. Promising young gamers under the age of twenty (reaction times deteriorate as you age) are sequestered in a team house where they spend over twelve hours a day bathed in the cold glow of their computer screens.
Do not let your luddite bias skew the fact that these advanced beings are the real deal. Starcraft pro-gaming in South Korea is backed by mega-corporations like Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Blizzard, Intel, and any other technology company you can think of. At the top of the heap is MVP, whose tournament earnings alone net upwards of $250k, not to mention sponsorships. This puts him a few bags of money above most UFC fighters, and he doesn’t have to get punched in the face for a living. His only worries are aging and carpal tunnel syndrome.
MVP is a fitting name for the winningest eSportsmen of 2011. Short of mass human extinction, this is the future of sporting.
- the US and Europe aren’t far behind [↩]