Imagine it—someone comes up to you and says: “How would like to live in a house where you’re paid to play video games? Oh, and did we mention that periodically you’ll leave the house to play more video games, only you’ll play these in front of thousands of screaming fans while traveling the world? Is that something you might be interested in?”
That’s pretty much what happened to Vincent Wang (a.k.a. “Biofrost”) and Timothy Ta (“Autimatic”). Both 20, these guys put their educations on hold to become professional gamers. Biofrost plays League of Legends for Team SoloMid (TSM), while Autimatic plays Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for Cloud 9.
We caught up with them to learn all about living the eSports life in Southern California…
“When you’re constantly winning, everyone gets along. It’s only when you’re losing that the hardships come in.” —Biofrost
A typical day’s work starts between 1 to 2 p.m., with the team conducting an hour review session before scrimmaging for two to three hours, followed by a break, followed by another two to three hours, at which point they, uh, they play more. Autimatic estimates: “I would say, on average, most of us play 10 to 12 hours total. [And even] when we miss practice, everyone is still playing on their own.”
Autimatic notes guys typically go to the gym in the morning to “get our day going.” Some lift weights, others run, and all are looking to “feel healthy.” After all, they need to stay sharp for extended matches at tournaments.
Autimatic (above, right) says it’s a good atmosphere: “The guys on my team are really chill.” Biofrost (above, left) observes that, as with most teams, the way the guys feel about each other has a lot to do with how they’re playing: “When you’re constantly winning, everyone gets along. It’s only when you’re losing that the hardships come in.”
Biofrost admits that when he revealed he would be leaving the University of Toronto, his parents were less than delighted. “My family, at the time, was pretty against gaming,” he recalls. “But when I told them about the offer TSM gave me, they were really happy.” He did not reveal his income, but top players hit six and sometimes even seven figures. Indeed, there was even a proper triumphant ending. “They came to see me in Toronto where the League Finals happened. They didn’t realize how big eSports was. They had to see it in person.”
For those unfamiliar, eSports can fill up Madison Square Garden, like a Knicks game with less drinking and more teen girls in costumes.
“My lowest point was when I dropped out of school to pursue gaming,” says Autimatic. “I didn’t really know how to balance gaming and, like, just life. Now, this would probably be a high point because I finally think I figured out how to balance everything.”
“I don’t meet with any girls, because I’m only focused on Counter-Strike, but I want to look my best for them.” —Autimatic
Both Autimatic and Biofrost have only been with their team for a few months. They estimate they’ve spent at least half of that traveling, playing everywhere from Atlanta to the Ukraine.
While tournaments are the same game you’re playing up to 12 hours daily in the house, it’s also very different since because loads of people are watching. “I think it’s cool when you go in front of a crowd of thousands and thousands of people and they’re constantly noticing every small thing,” Biofrost says. “Nerve-racking at first, but you get used to it. It’s important to feel your best, look your best because there’s so many people watching.”
Note: The players get help on the looks front through a partnership with AXE Hair. “When I was in Brazil, I played in front of my biggest crowd, that was when I noticed how much doing my hair really affected me,” says Autimatic. “If I’m not looking my best, I’m thinking about other things.”
Autimatic says, despite his need for styling, he has his priorities straight when it comes to female fans: “I don’t meet with any girls, because I’m only focused on Counter-Strike, but I want to look my best for them.” And this obsessive focus makes sense, because it won’t last forever.
“The oldest player now is 30 and he’s on one of the best teams,” Autimatic says. “I would imagine I can do it that long, but I don’t know if I want to do it that long. Working for one of the companies helping grow eSports would probably be my main goal in the future.”
Nom de Game
And finally, because we know you’ve been wondering, they don’t actually say “Biofrost” and “Autimatic” all the time. As Biofrost—sorry, Vincent—puts it: “We call each by our first names.”