I have been conducting a research lately around esports and have therefore had the chance to interview some (familiar) faces of esports in search for a better understanding of the phenomenon. At the start of it all, I made clear to my interviewees that their responses were not at first hand meant for wide publishing. However, now that I'm done with using the data, with their agreement, I have the possibility to release it as a series of interviews that can be, in my opinion, an interesting read for many people. So, here it is.
You will notice that the core questions are the same for every interview minus some more personal or situational questions that I thought were relevant given the context or the very own experience of my interviewee. The interviews are raw, I haven't edited them so if there is any mispells or weird sentences, don't be freaked out.
Themes: esports definition, esports origins, women in esports, the sport debate, new technologies, esports audience, esports prospects, upcoming challenges...
Today, I will be releasing the #2 interview notes with Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel.
Tell me a bit about yourself, what is your personal approach and your own experience of esports ?
I've always been a competitor and someone who shoots for the stars. With the birth of online gaming, I found a new passion to compete in this unknown virtual world. I quickly found my skillsets were a match for this emerging sport, landing me as the first full time professional eSports player in the world.
How I approached eSports was just like I would train or practice for a traditional sport. Work on strengths and weaknesses and practice a lot. I trained against tons of competitors on a daily basis to work on my technique and hone my skills to take out my opponents faster than anyone else.
My experience of eSports starts from the very beginning when I was 13 years old before it was even called eSports. I competed over dial up, IPX networks, and then eventually just basic TCP/IP Connections over broadband. As eSports grew, I was there every step of the way. Being a fanatic of competing with players from all over the world, I felt the playing field was level for everyone. It didn't matter where you lived, what the weather was, as long as you had a powerful PC and an internet connection, you were in the game! My endless pursuit of winning led me to participate in tournaments around the world, winning 12 eSports World Championships throughout my career. "Fatal1ty" became a household name in the gamer world and my life was never the same.
What is esports actually ? How do we define it ?
eSports is commonly known as competitive video gaming for the best of the best. I definitely believe that, but I also believe eSports includes playing games casually in the same manner as you play traditional sports with your friends. It is an activity requiring skill in a competitive nature.
How does one actually make a living out of esport ? Not just the competition aspect but more generally around video games as a whole ?
There is several different ways to make a living out of eSports now. Obviously winning Tournaments is the big one, but there is also possibilities making money in eSports with Events, Broadcasting, Twitch and/or businesses built to support eSports.
I personally competed in tournaments and built the Fatal1ty brand to make products for gamers in eSports.
How have the constant evolution of new technologies and faster internet helped esport grow to such an extent ?
Faster internet really helps for training and playability of the games. Makes it more enjoyable and also helped bring a lot of new people to the sport. As for technology advancments, it's night and day from the birth of online gaming. Powerful gaming PC's and Consoles are readily available to hop online and play some of the most advanced games. Even mobile devices are getting somewhat powerful.
How do you see esports in the future, say 5-10-20 years from now or even further ?
eSports popularity will continue to grow every year. There are new opportunities everyday in eSports, and with mainstream attention as of late, it shows us there will be a bright future ahead of us.
What about potential new technologies yet to come, such as virtual reality ? How do you think these would find their place into esport and video games in general ?
Virtual Reality has a chance of being a great entertainment piece or tool to use for a lot of different applications or games. As for it being used in eSports, I feel its obviously possible, but I feel a lot of people will stick to the more mainstream way of playing games just on a regulard LCD or Monitor. I'm personally excited to dive more into Virtual Reality, but its more about the experience.
Is esports a sport ? What is your personal view on that matter ?
eSports and sports are so similar, minus the physical exertion of losing your breath in some sports. There are a lot of sports out there that dont have physical exertion characteristics, but still use all the same skillsets as eSports. So to me eSports is a sport and I am a sportsman.
A lot of recent studies have shown that contrary to before, more and more women play video games, albeit arguably different type of games or usage of them. But what about esports ? How do they fit in ?
Girls have been in eSports forever. Some of them beating the developers in their own game, creating their own gaming teams, organizations, and playing in professional tournaments.
It's great to see the number of girls in eSports growing.
How far do you think esports can go in terms of viewership and mainstream recognition ? Could esports be one day as popular and common as, say, a tennis grand Slam or a football/soccer world cup ?
I think in a lot of ways its already getting there, but remember everyday eSports is around, we are building our fanbase for the future. The 18 year olds today will become 50 someday, and they will always remember their past time as a kid growing up and understand eSports more and more every year.
What are the main obstacles and barriers that could prevent esports from growing even more ? What are the challenges still lying up ahead ?
Violence in games sometimes slows down the potential of some fun games getting on mainstream TV as the adult rating is to high. Games like LoL and Dota don't have as much violence and can be more easily played on TV for a massive audience.
You don't compete so much anymore but have become an esport icon. What is essentialy different from the esports world you knew when you were younger and the esports of today ?
I've been apart of competitive online gaming since Day 1, so obviously things have changed every year, and myself and a lot of others were responsible for shaping how eSports is today. In 2005 when I played at the CPL World Tour Finals in New York City, it was one of the biggest events ever in eSports. We livestreamed on MTV's network, and over 90 countries tuned in to watch the 2 hour finale.
Now today, you have Twitch who livestreams the events over the course of multiple days and obviously the prize money has went to another level with crowd funding and game developers investing in their own league in a more professional manner.
You have created your own brand. What drove you to this decision and how difficult was it to establish ?
I saw a void in product development for gamers, and also a lack of knowledge from corporate companies on knowing what gamers wanted and needed.
As being a player in the battlefield and living that life everyday, I knew what I needed to win. So that brought me to developing products and hardware for gamers through the Fatal1ty brand. I had this big vision that eSports would become a thing in the future, and I road the professional and business wave from the very beginning.
I worked really hard to partner with the best manufacturers to build stellar product for gamers. I'm always looking to make mid to high level equipment for gamers, so they can play to their full potential and own the game.
What do you like most about working in esports ?
I love the competition and the players who have that relentless pursuit of winning attitude like me. It's very inspiring to watch gamers go for it and never give up.
Several schools, notably in Sweden, have emerged recently and are aimed toward esports. What do you think those schools should teach youngsters
Being very well rounded is always important. To have a balance with excercise, mental strength and stamina are building blocks to being the best you can be. After that, it comes down to desire, will and talent.
What would you tell to a teenager who wants to become an esports world star ?
While your young and living with your family, you have an enormous ammount of time to develop any skills you want to have. Take full advantage of this time, because when you become an adult, those advantages will start to fade away. Go to tournaments and find out where you stand. Go for it, and see what happens! The worst feeling would be looking back and saying I didn't try my hardest. I wish you the best in your endeavors and always own the game!
Links: fatal1ty, Fatal1tyGamingGear, Fatal1ty
Edited by Badb0y at 08:56 CST, 13 January 2016 - 37822 Hits