Meet the teens cash­ing in on video game skills

Meet the kids mak­ing a for­tune from video games

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - @Sar­watNasir

een video game fans say they are be­ing tempted to shun univer­sity in favour of a ca­reer as pro­fes­sional play­ers, com­pet­ing for high win­nings and earn­ings as coaches.

7DAYS spoke to a num­ber of gamers who are mak­ing thou­sands of dirhams while still in their teens.

Games such as League of Le­gends, Call of Duty and Counter-Strike are among those played at com­pe­ti­tions with big money prizes. By Sar­wat Nasir

One gamer said he could earn more than Dhs100,000 from just one tour­na­ment.

Bradley Is­mail, 15, from Dubai, told 7DAYS he does not in­tend to go to univer­sity and aims to be­come a pro­fes­sional gamer.

The Cana­dian pupil (pic­tured right) said he has al­ready made Dhs83,500 from coach­ing other gamers who play League of Le­gends. He takes a share of the win­nings of the teams he trains.

Is­mail said: “If you want to be­come a pro-gamer, you’d have to ded­i­cate a lot of your time to­wards it and that means putting aside col­lege and other things.

“I spend three to four hours gam­ing and an­other five to six hours analysing games. I coach teams on the tech­niques that they would have to use to im­prove. I talk them through the whole process.

“I’ve made Dhs83,500 in coach­ing so far but once I go pro, I could be earn­ing a six-fig­ure in­come.”

Is­mail then sits with the teams in in­ten­sive ses­sions and helps them with their tech­nique and team­work.

He added: “We spend five to six days prac­tis­ing for four to six hours each day, depend­ing on how close the tour­na­ment is.

“We dis­cuss strate­gies, char­ac­ters we are go­ing to use and what tac­tics we will use against the other team.”

Is­mail’s mum, Jan­ice Adey Is­mail, told 7DAYS that she would sup­port her son’s de­ci­sion to skip univer­sity if a “big gam­ing job op­por­tu­nity” does find him.

She be­lieves that young­sters in to­day’s dig­i­tal age are find­ing “new routes” to be­come suc­cess­ful and that they should re­ceive sup­port from their par­ents.

She also said he has good grades and could al­ways at­tend univer­sity later.

She added: “We do sup­port him. With Brad, I don’t have much con­cern. He does spend a lot of time gam­ing, but for a 15 year old he is very ma­ture.”

An­other semi-pro gamer, 19-year-old Egyptian ex­pat Mar­wan Hammed, has earned about Dhs20,000 in the last year from tour­na­ments held in gam­ing cafes around Dubai. In the past year he has com­peted in 15 tour­na­ments with his team, which con­sists of five play­ers. The team have won Dhs100,000, which gets di­vided equally. Hammed said he too must choose be­tween univer­sity and pro-gam­ing. He said he spends four to six hours gam­ing daily and up to eight hours train­ing be­fore a tour­na­ment. He said: “Keep­ing a bal­ance be­tween stud­ies and play­ing games at a pro­fes­sional level can be dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially be­cause it re­quires you to con­stantly prac­tise to main­tain the high­est level of game­play. “If I saw that there was po­ten­tial in my field, I would go for it, as it’s a one-time shot and I would pause my aca­demic stud­ies as they can be re­sumed at any time.” T Or­gan­is­ers be­hind gam­ing tour­na­ments have said there is “big prize money” to be won. Maq­sood Shahid, who is in­volved in the or­gan­is­ing of Gamers UAE, a com­pe­ti­tion with a Dhs1 mil­lion prize, said: “For win­ning tour­na­ments, the price money in­volved is in the mil­lions. The top 10 win­ners also re­ceive prize money of up to Dhs20,000. “The harder you work and the more prac­tice you have, the eas­ier it is to win the Dhs1 mil­lion prize. This is an in­dus­try that is on the rise.” One café, Que Club in Oud Me­hta, holds four to five mini tour­na­ments each week and a big­ger tour­na­ment ev­ery cou­ple of weeks. A staff mem­ber said: “The big­ger tour­na­ments give a prize of Dhs8,000 – it could even be a big­ger prize depend­ing on who the spon­sors are.”

Big money on of­fer at gam­ing tour­na­ments

GAME ON: Bradley Is­mail (above and be­low right) plays as well as coach­ing oth­ers

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