Gaming fame elusive for NZ's top talent
New Zealand's next set of global sports stars could well compete with headsets and keyboards rather than rugby balls and boots.
But a lack of sponsorship for competitive computer gaming, or eSports, means this country's best gamers are missing out on prize pools of more than $2 million overseas.
A recent Victoria University study found eSports had developed its own professional players who attracted global fame, with some potentially earning hundreds of thousands annually.
Yuri Seo, who wrote the report, said eSports' premiere event, the World Cyber Games, involved 50 countries and was broadcast to more than 9.5 million spectators worldwide. Dr Seo said the eSports phenomenon was in its infancy in New Zealand, but some gamers had represented the country in the past.
New Zealand Gaming League owner and director Tawhai Straugheir said there was elite talent here, but gamers struggled to regularly access international tournaments.
"It's like lots of things. We're so far away from everything and people might not think that matters much with eSports because its all online generally, but a lot of people start off with going to these small to large tournaments."
Last month, an international tournament for the battle strategy game, Dota 2, was held in the United States, with a US$2.8m (NZ$3.54m) prize pool.
According to the website eSports Earnings, one American gamer had career earnings of more than US$500,000 from competitive tournaments. However, New Zealand lacked tournaments with prizes of even a few thousand dollars, Mr Straugheir said.
"That money can get you overseas, that can get you to these big tournaments, that can get you noticed. Because that's really what it's about."
American game publisher Riot Games, which developed League of Legends, employed the best teams and players in the world, he said.
"It's only something like US$60,000, but it's still a lot of money."
A professional gamer's career might last only a few years, he said, before the player's hands gave out.
- © Fairfax NZ News