Though many may scoff at the idea of playing video games at a professional level, video game athletes are a real thing. While they are by no means athletes in the traditional sense, pro gamers have been bringing in big bucks in the past few years, along with hundreds of millions of viewers across the world.
The world’s best video game players have been playing championship matches in games like League of Legends, Defence of the Ancients 2 and various other games with prize pools well into the millions of dollars. The International Defence of the Ancients 2 Tournament recently gave away more than $25 million in prizes.
In terms of raw viewership, a recent League of Legends championship broadcast was watched by 334 million people across the world, an audience dwarfing any Super Bowl or World Series, combined.
In light of figures like that, it should be less of a shock to some to know that there are companies who develop and train professional gamers.
Team SoloMid (TSM), an eSports team founded in 2009 on the community website SoloMid.Net by brothers Andy “Reginald” Dinh and Daniel “Dan Dinh” Dinh, recently announced that it has officially partnered with Red Bull heading into 2016. Red Bull has long been at the forefront of the eSports industry, and has developed numerous state-of-the-art eSports training facilities, hosted and sponsored events, live broadcasts and developed athlete programs.
According to a release by TSM, the partnership will be much more than a sponsorship. Red Bull will be the exclusive beverage for TSM, but the two organizations will also work together to develop the team’s rosters into “global powerhouses through Red Bull’s constantly evolving athlete performance program.”
“We’re looking forward to all of the opportunities this partnership will provide,” wrote Reginald. “In 2016, our LCS team will be paying regular visits to Red Bull’s North American Headquarters to participate in its eSports performance program. We will work with Red Bull to significantly improve the physical, mental and mechanical performances of the team in order to perform at the highest professional level.”
TSM competes across several games, with teams in League of Legends, CS: GO, Hearthstone and Super Smash Brothers.
While the professional gaming circuit now hosts numerous teams and hundreds upon hundreds of professional gamers, TSM has definitely made a name for itself playing League of Legends. The organization first broke into the scene in early 2011 after being formed to participate in the Riot Season 1 Championship later in the year. The organization has gone through several different teams and names, including TSM Darkness and the now-disbanded Team SoloMid Evo.
In terms of international appearances, TSM is the only team competing in the League of Legends arena to have attended all five world championships hosted by League developer Riot Games, Inc. which hosts a prize pool over $2 million.