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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 06:54 GMT 07:54 UK
Cyber athletes battle for cash
Counter-strike screenshot
Pit your team against terrorists in Counter-strike
BBC ClickOnline's Kate Russell talked to some cyber athletes to find out just how much they can earn by simply playing games.
Computer games have become so competitive that professional gaming leagues have sprung up around the globe.

It might be hard to believe, but there are some people who make their living quite literally twiddling their thumbs.

You can earn up to $40,000 in one night, just for playing a game.

Computer gaming is a sport born out of teenagers playing computer games in their front rooms. But now dedicated gamers are competing with each other all over the world.

Serious money

To this new breed of professional gamer the business of gaming is very serious indeed, with the lure of big prize-money, sponsorship deals and flights to exotic competition venues.

Fifa 2001
Could you be the next cyber Beckham?
There is serious money to be made, and kudos to be earned so like top sporting professionals you have got to put in some serious practice time if you want to make it to the top.

"Compared to other sports, computer games rely on reaction speeds, perhaps not the same physical attributes but still the same basics which are needed in real sports," said pro-gamer Greg Edwards.

"I spend about one or two hours practising on my own each night, and then with my team-mates we spend about one or two hours practising against teams from Europe."

Strategic plans

Preparing to compete requires more than practice. Teams will always check out their opponents, to look for any weaknesses.

The World Cyber Games is the Olympics for computer gamers

Sujoy Roy, tournament organiser
"It's not just about playing the game," said tournament organiser Sujoy Roy

"You're playing another person or another team and so the biggest advantage is knowing what they're going to do before they do it and being able to counter that.

"If you know exactly where your opponents are going to be and how they're going to play the game then you've got a massive advantage," he said.

Sujoy Roy is a professional gamer turned competition organiser, who is currently in the throes of putting together the UK qualifiers for the World Cyber Games to be held in Korea in October.

Olympian challenge

Competitors from 49 countries are taking part this year. Among the games they will compete in are the first-person shooter Counter-Strike, the strategy game Age of Empires and the football title Fifa 2001.

"The World Cyber Games is the Olympics for computer gamers," said Sujoy.

"In Korea they've created a $3 million village just to hold the spectators and players and to house the whole tournament.

"The prize money when these competitions started out was very, very small, in fact there were probably no cash prizes, only hardware.

But today the prize money is just rising and rising. There's a $150,000 Counter-Strike tournament and the World Cyber Games is $300,000, and Microsoft had a Links golf tournament to win a $1m prize," he said.

We may be some way off from the sort of prizes we see in golf and tennis but even Wimbledon and the US Open had to start somewhere.

So get your favourite game out and start practising, because you could be the next world champion.


ClickOnline is broadcast on BBC World at various times across the globe.

In DepthIN DEPTH
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See also:

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16 May 02 | Science/Nature
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