Aussie gamers aim for world domination
'Team Immunity' is looking to put Australia on the gaming map in an international tournament with the ultimate prize money rivalling winnings in major sports.PT0M0S 620 349
DEREK TRANG is a 19 year-old commerce and law student.
Online he's known as Raydere and is considered one of the best League of Legends (LoL) players in the country.
Derek and his five teammates have met only a couple of times, but online they form Team Immunity and are among the few Australian online gamers who compete internationally.
''In the Australian context, I guess I'm more of a professional gamer then anyone else,'' Mr Trang said.
''There's going to be a lot of pressure on our shoulders, to show the world what we can do.
''Online, there aren't a lot of Australian gamers and, if we play well, other teams will think that Australia's actually really good.
''That's quite a burden we have to carry. We have to show other teams, other countries and continents that Australia is actually really good.''
LoL was released in 2009 and with more than 30 million players logging about 1.3 billion hours of gameplay, it is the most played PC game in the world, according to Forbes magazine.
Team Immunity is Australia's first Electronic Sports League team to compete in an international LoL tournament.
The team was scheduled to compete in the Intel Extreme Masters in Guangzhou in October. However, this was cancelled due to political tensions between China and Japan.
The team will now be competing in the Asian finals on November 15, for a spot in a tournament in Singapore on November 25.
But the ultimate goal is to reach the annual world championships next year, where cash prizes could be worth up to $1 million.
Professional ''eSports'' have exploded in the last few years.
The Electronic Sports League (ESL) organises all international tournaments from a headquarters in Germany and has more than 4 million members.
The Australian branch was formed only in July and already has at least 1500 members.
Its managing director, Reagan Koryozo, said Australia was at least five years behind the rest of the world in professional eSports.
"Everything takes longer to evolve and adapt in Australia," Mr Koryozo said.
''The problem we have when we go overseas is that we have the skill, but not the competitive environment. We don't have the hardening of regular competition."
ESL Australia will launch a competition series in 2013 to start building a professional circuit.
Australian gamers, however, have found it difficult to obtain financial support.
''We're still trying to convince companies locally that it's a worthy investment,'' Mr Koryozo said.
"We may not be making enough money to make a profession off it now, but we're definitely working professionally to get it to that level."
One problem has been that online gaming has often been overshadowed by stories of addiction.
Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man died after reportedly playing League of Legends for 23 hours straight.
In July, a Taiwanese teenager died after playing Diablo 3 for a reported 40 hours.
Mr Koryozo said gaming was just like any other professional sport - the players had a team to keep tabs on their health.
''In most of the cases, professional gamers are some of the healthiest guys I've seen,'' he said. ''They go to the gym, they play sports - and that's where they get their competitive edge as well.''
While Team Immunity is not as hardcore as its international counterparts, whom Mr Trang said play 12 hours a day, the team will be practising day and night closer to the finals.
The No.1 team to beat will be Taiwan's Taipei Assassins, which took out last month's LoL world championships and its $1 million prize.
"Playing against a team at the top of the world, it's usually a very big ask to actually beat them," Mr Trang said.
''But we're working on a few strategies right now to see if we can face up and take them down and hopefully make gaming history.''