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Twenty-two-year-old Kurtis Ling from Vancouver and his team Evil Genius earned a multi-million dollar prize after winning a video game championship in Seattle.
Beating out dozens of gamers during the week-long International Dota 2 Championships, Ling and his team took home a $6.6 million prize.
Ling, also known as Aui_2000, is ranked as Canada’s highest paid professional gamer, and the 13th highest paid gamer in the world. He earns a living playing video games, winning competitions around the world, and earning tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars at tournaments.
“Its my passion, my hobby – it’s still something I really enjoy doing, ” says Ling. “That it’s apparently turned into my job now too, is great for me.”
The former UBC student decided to leave school in his third year to be a professional gamer.
“I just decided to take a year off to try to pursue gaming full time. Monetarily … it made a lot more sense to try to go professional in gaming than it did to complete my degree,” he told The Ubyssey back in March.
Ling is part of the Esports scene that has exploded in the past couple of years. Multi-player video game tournaments, also known as Esports, have become a global sensation that attracts thousands of spectators to live events held at arenas and other venues around the world.
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Ling first started playing Dota 2′s predecessor, DotA, in grade 9. His was introduced to competitive gaming by joining UBC’s Starcraft Club when he started university in 2010.
READ MORE: UBC Esports team wins $180,000 scholarship in ‘March Madness’ of video game competitions
Talking about his early days as a competitive gamer, Ling recalls that the highest prize pool tournament he competed in with DotA back in 2010 was $500 for first place.
Sponsors for Esports tournaments include corporate titans such as Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Prize money for these competitions are set in the millions of dollars, as eSports increasingly resembles traditional sporting events with live events attracting tens of thousands of spectators, professional commentators providing play-by-play and analysis. The tournaments are even livestreamed to millions of viewers.
The total prize pool for the International Dota 2 Championships was a staggering $18.4 million. Evil Geniuses beat team CDEC from China, who still walked away with $2.8 million.
Each of the four members of the Evil Geniuses, including Ling, are now millionaires, having won the international championship.
When asked what it felt like to win, an ecstatic Ling said, “It’s still really surreal for me. We aim for this tournament all year round, and winning it is the goal for every single one of us as gamers. To have achieved that goal is just amazing.”