The five young men of Team Liquid earn around $US60,000 each, plus what they get through sponsorship and streaming deals, and live for free in a LA condo just for being good at League of Legends, the most popular competitive video game in the world
Despite a roster loaded with top players, it has been stuck around fourth place in North America. With the addition of a former world champion, however, hopes are high that the team will earn a shot at the World Championship’s $US1-million prize.
Being a professional gamer is a sweet gig, but it’s not all fantasy. With high pressure and low job security, gamers play up to 14 hours a day to stay on top of their craft, all while devoting their formative years to skills that may have little marketable value later in life.
That’s why Alex “Xspecial” Chu told his younger brother, a talented gamer in his own right, to stay out of pro-gaming. “I know how hard it is,” he says.
We visited the team in Santa Monica, California to get a first-hand look.
Team Liquid lives in a Santa Monica duplex just off the I-405 freeway. I arrived late in the morning to hang out with the team as they prepared for game day.
When I arrived around 12:30 p.m., most of the team was still asleep. As Team Liquid owner Steve Arhancet told me, 'Gamers run on a different schedule than the rest of the world.' Most of Team Liquid wakes up around 12 p.m. and many stay up late playing the game until 3 a.m. or later.
The only people awake were Liquid coach Peter 'PtotheD' Zhang (left) and Diego 'Quas' Ruiz, a quiet 23-year old from Maracaibo, Venezuela. Ruiz honed his skills at League by using the computers at an internet cafe run by his mother. He's in the US now on a professional sports visa.