Video game fanatics looking to turn professional are being snapped up by a eSports company based in the UAE.
Galaxy Racer eSports has provided a platform for gamers to compete in tournaments and has signed eight international and local teams so far.
The opportunity has helped gamers pursue eSports as a profession, as it offers them a fixed salary and a percentage of any prizes earned from tournaments.
Mohammed Abdulaziz Almatrooshi, 19, is an Emirati gamer who was signed by the firm to play a battle arena game League of Legends.
The challenges that I faced were with my family. They took my computer to stop me playing for weeks
Mohammed Almatrooshi, Emirati pro gamer
“I used to go to internet cafes everyday with my friends after school just to play League of Legends,” Mr Almatrooshi, from Abu Dhabi, told The National.
He has been gaming since he was nine-years-old, but said he started taking it more seriously after he noticed his performance improve in tournaments.
Earlier in May, he was signed by Galaxy Racer because of his high game ranking.
Shortly after, his team won the Intel Arabian Cup UAE tournament and qualified to the regional stages, where they will have a chance to prove they are the Middle East’s best League of Legends team.
“The challenges that I faced were with my family,” said Mr Almatrooshi.
“They didn’t agree with the idea that I play video games. I was skipping a lot of classes for it. They took my computer to stop me playing for weeks. I tried to convince them to give me a chance to show them that eSports was a big thing.”
Once his team won the tournament with a prize of Dh18,000, his family started showing their support for his new profession.
eSports is estimated to be a $1 billion industry, with some players who earn millions in streaming their games online on platforms such as Twitch, as well as competing professionally.
Some international tournaments have millions of dollars as prizes. In 2019, Kyle Giersdorf, 16, won $3 million in a Fortnite competition.
The Middle East’s industry is also rapidly growing and some tournaments offer prizes of up to Dh1 million.
Ksenia Klyuenkova, 29, is a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player based in Russia. Galaxy Racer recently signed her as member of a all-girl team.
Being a pro player is extremely demanding and stressful. An ability to cope with everything that comes with the career is a crucial factor
Mia Stellberg, sports psychologist
“In the beginning it was just a hobby for me,” she said. “I played Counter-Strike with friends after school. Gradually, I got better and…
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