Bahaa Nasser playing League of Legends. Photo by Jesse Friedlander
By Jesse Friedlander
League of Legends is a free-to-play multiplayer, real-time strategy online computer game created and published by the video game publisher, Riot Games.
Since its release in October 2009, the game has continued to grow exponentially with over 27 million playing daily and more than 67 million playing per month. Its accelerating popularity has allowed top players to make a career out of it.
However, for some making a living playing League of Legends is not possible.
Bahaa Nasser, a junior at Stony Brook University, is in the top 2 percent of players globally, but knows he can do better. “Time is the issue, I am a full-time student. Being an amateur gamer and staying at my rank requires around 30 to 40 hours a week minimum,” Nasser said.
Nasser began playing the game in April 2011 and has played nearly 4000 hours since then. After graduation, he hopes he will able to play the game professionally.
League of Legends is one of many eSports, also known as electronic sports, and it had a big year in 2015. Last year, DraftKings and FanDuel, two fantasy sports web-based enterprises, received the rights to begin betting on League of Legends. While the game always had a large audience, there was increased attention to the game in 2015. There are no signs of the game slowing down in 2016.
Nasser commented that it is difficult having to put in the hours full-time, but it is even more frustrating not being able to receive an income from it: “I put in a lot of hours so I can continue to improve, but I have no source of income at school because of it. Attempting to improve so I can do this in my future means I cannot have a job now, it takes up a lot of my free time.”
“It is a game based around skill, it is an extremely complex game. This is not a video game that requires minimal thinking, you need to be attentive, alert and have a good strategy to win,” Nasser said.
At 20-years-old, Nasser knows what he wants to do as a profession, but acknowledges the difficult road ahead of him.
“It is as difficult to be a professional gamer as it is to be a professional athlete. I will need to continue to improve if I want to achieve my goals… [however] [i]t is my dream job. It is a legitimate eSport. There is an audience and it should only be uphill for what players can earn,” Nasser said.