In the first of a series of reports Philip Wride, one of the managers of the UK's Four-Kings pro-gaming clan, gives a preview of the year ahead for the team.
2005 is set to be the biggest year yet for online gaming.
Painkiller - an old-fashioned frag-em-up
The Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which organises pro-gaming tournaments, is staging a $1m World Tour, much like the recognised tours for its sporting counterparts.
This competition will pit individual players against each other in a head-to-head format in an attempt to lay their hands on some of the cash on offer.
With nine stops on four continents, including Brazil, China, Sweden, USA and the UK, it will give gamers the chance to see different cultures and fulfil their dreams.
The tour itself will run throughout 2005 with the Grand Final taking place in December in Dallas, Texas where one player will be crowned overall champion netting them a very nice Christmas present of $150,000 (£78,000).
With this amount of money on offer many gamers have converted to the game of choice, Painkiller, from recognised titles such as Counterstrike, Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004.
The UK will be sending its own representatives to this competition with most of them coming from the UK's only professional gaming outfit, Four Kings.
The backing the team receives from Intel and ATi has allowed it to pick the cream of the crop in terms of UK potential and these players are poised to make a bid to show they can compete with the best in the world.
CPL WORLD TOUR STOPS
"The World Tour is a great step forward for gaming, the CPL is once again breaking boundaries and with support from the media, such as MTV, it promises to try and bring gaming into the mainstream," said Dan Marshall, one of the new recruits to Four Kings.
He has high hopes for 2005.
"We have all set our own individual goals but my personal one is to place in the top 16 at each event as that puts me in the prize money. In the long run I hope to reach the top 4 but that will take hard work and perseverance."
The Four Kings Painkiller players were picked in December 2004 following success in a pop idol style competition hosted by Intel.
The event itself was located at the Black Island Studios in London and drew quite a crowd because as well as the Painkiller competition it was also the venue for the CPL UK qualifiers for its winter tournament.
The Four Kings Counterstrike team won this competition and got a free trip to Dallas, USA.
Unfortunately the predicted start of the tour hit a few problems and it wasn't the grand spectacle everyone had hoped for.
Due to uncontrollable weather conditions in Istanbul the first stop was postponed until the end of March.
2005 could be a lucrative year for some pro-gamers
The initial event was however saved by Intel, co-sponsor of the tour, which was turned into a qualifier for the Barcelona tour stop in April.
Those gamers that had already arrived, or were on their way to Turkey when this announcement came were shocked by the turn of events.
Most were still thankful they didn't waste their time and still got to take part in an event, even if it wasn't the one they had gone to Turkey for.
After all this though, the majority are still looking forward to the official start of proceedings in March and we should hopefully start to see gaming "coming of age" through the media attention the tournament will receive.
The first world tour stop takes place from 25-27 March and Four-Kings will report back on their progress.