NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Playing video games for a living may sound like a dream. But for the most skilled players in the world it is actually the reality.
Will "Rush" Wierzba, 23, played for 5 months in low-tier tournaments. But he climbed his way up the ladder and onto a professional team. Now he is one of the stars on the California-based Cloud9. Its Counter Strike: Global Offensive Team is one of the best in the world.
Stewie2k is only 19. When he began playing the video game in 2014, he never anticipated this type of success. He always loved playing for hours every day. And now he gets paid to.
But it isn't your run-of-the-mill gaming session. The players practice as a team for 6 to 8 hours a day. Then beyond that, players have to practice on their own for several more hours. And believe it or not, they still manage to find time to play other games.
While these gamers play for passion, of course, make no mistake: these are high stakes. The purse at ESL's Counter Strike final is $250,000. But to better understand just how massive this industry is and what's potentially on the line, consider this: the largest pool prize in an e-sports tournament is $25 million.
ESL North America CEO Craig Levine said these top players train all year and have nutritionists, sports psychiatrists, training sessions, and training facilities. He said they making 6 to 7 figures a year.
As these pros seize their chance to live out their dream, they say they are happy to help inspire future gaming stars.