E-Sports Athlete Races Ahead of Competition

Senior+Hunter+Duringer+is+ranked+as+one+of+the+top+100+Rocket+League+players+in+the+world+and+competes+in+esports+tournaments+across+the+country.

Trazer Hazen

Senior Hunter Duringer is ranked as one of the top 100 Rocket League players in the world and competes in esports tournaments across the country.

Brendan Gibson, Staff Writer

As our society’s technology continues to advance, a new form of entertainment is becoming increasingly popular.

Once reserved solely for hardcore computer nerds, esports, or competitive video gaming tournaments, now reach an estimated audience of 385 million people, and that number is only expected to grow.

Senior Hunter Duringer is a member of the professional Cerberus Esports team and competes in events around the country, which have up to 60,000 fans watching online. He has won numerous tournaments and nearly $500 in cash playing Rocket League.

Rocket League is a video game in which teams attempt to score goals like in soccer, except the soccer players are replaced with rocket-powered RC cars.

“It’s really fun. It’s for any skill level, but the game becomes more intense and much more fun to watch at higher skill levels,” Duringer said. “It becomes a game of who makes the first mistake and who can take advantage of it.”

Duringer is now ranked as one of the top 100 players in the world, but he came from humble beginnings.

“It took me a while [to improve], but I was already quite a gamer,” he said. “When Rocket League first came out, a lot of my friends played it and I joined them. I started out just as bad as everybody else.”

Once he decided to pursue esports professionally, Duringer was hesitant to compete in more popular games such as League of Legends, which have higher levels of competition and award as much as a million dollars in prize money to tournament victors.

“I chose Rocket League because I had a better chance of making money and a better chance of making a name for myself,” he said.

Through practicing four to five hours a day with his team, Duringer has improved his abilities. He stressed that while improving finger dexterity is important, it is not the only skill of a successful esports athlete.

“It’s more of a mental game,” Duringer said. “You have to be willing to practice a lot, change the way you play, adapt, and learn from your mistakes. To keep up with everybody you have to have a very strong mental edge.”

Duringer has no intention of pursuing a career in esports because of the risk of viewers losing interest in Rocket League and turning to other games.

As the popularity of esports grows, the debate over whether they should be considered sports continues.

You have to be willing to practice a lot, change the way you play, adapt, and learn from your mistakes. To keep up with everybody you have to have a very strong mental edge.”

— Hunter Duringer

“It’s really debatable,” Duringer said. “It depends on what your definition of sports is. For me, I consider it a sport. It’s not a physical sport, but chess is considered a sport, and this goes along the same lines.”

Senior Preston Harms, an amateur Rocket League player, holds a much stronger opinion on this topic.

“Esports are real sports. They require a lot of skill, hard work, determination, and practice,” he said.

Harms is optimistic about his own future in esports and hopes to take his game to the next level.

“I aspire to be a professional Rocket League player,” Harms said. “I think it would be a cool job. I’m focused on school right now, but second semester I think I could play more and get better.”

With more people like Harms becoming interested in competing in esports tournaments, Duringer shared a piece of advice for amateur athletes.

“Make sure it’s something that you really want to do because there are other people that do and they will probably overtake you,” he said. “Once you’ve passed that point, I would practice a lot and do whatever you need to get better, just like in any other sport. Watch professionals and get advice.”

While still not as popular as more traditional sports, esports have taken a more prominent role in the entertainment industry, and in the future may begin to rival the viewership numbers of other sports.