Halo to the Pro


This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on July 30, 2008.

Becoming a pro is a childhood dream, but in 2008 kids aren’t just dreaming of becoming pro athletes, they’re dreaming of becoming pro gamers.

Nelson Triana is the leader of The Amp Energy Pro Team, North of 49, a professional gaming team that is crossing the country searching for a 4th member to join them on the Major League Gaming circuit.

“Major League Gaming has established themselves in the States and they have stops throughout the year. Every stop is a big payout with a lot of media coverage with ESPN and The Score.”

20080730 amp energy tourThose big payouts can top $100 00 per event, just for playing video games. Nelson won’t go into details about what he makes as a fully endorsed player, but being on the Amp Energy payroll means his team doesn’t have to take part time jobs and can focus on gaming full time.

“Guys in the states can make a quarter million dollars just to play and then additional endorsement deals and the winnings.”

The Amp Your Game – Search For the Pro brings them to Richmond Centre this week where online qualifiers will be put through the paces on Halo 3 to try and fill that 4th spot.

“We’re looking for different things; dedication, communication,” says Triana. “We’re not looking for someone who is only good at Halo 3 because the games do change. So we want someone who is an all around gamer, so that when the games do change he can make that transition.”

Nelson broke out 4 years ago when he won a Canadian title and took second in a global tournament. As the leader of North of 49 he keeps the team in check and in top form.

The rookie who joins the squad will have to be prepared to work. It may be called “gaming” but these guys are pros and treat their trade just like the athletes – so that means practice.

“We’re looking at 8 hours a day, not necessarily all playing but maybe 50% playing and 50% studying the game,” explains Nelson. “For example, after every Halo 3 match you can watch the whole game like a replay.

“So we go through the game film. We can see the other team’s strategy, and we can work on certain mistakes that we’ve made. So there’s a lot of studying involved, not just playing.”

There is a stereotype of gamers being basement dwellers, by themselves, but Nelson tries to break that down. The people on the circuit are friendly, he tries to keep fit, and he finds the best gamers are the ones with outside interests as well.

Nelson may be a Halo 3 champion, but he’s a star at Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

“I think it’s just the hand eye coordination to be able to move your hands quickly to hit those notes. I’m just very dedicated to be good at whatever it is.”

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