WCG 2006: A Cynic Recants


The World Cyber Games wrapped up Sunday evening with a flurry of activity. Awards were awarded, checks were handed out, songs were sung, mothers rescued their youngsters from the clutches of America’s greediest city and a handful of young men were chosen to represent Team USA at the World Cyber Games World Finals next month in Monza, Italy.

First, the winners.


    Counterstrike – Team 3D
    Dead or Alive 4 – DoaMaster (Emmanuel Rodriguez )
    FIFA Soccer 06 – novusnaim (Isidro Sifuentes )
    Project Gotham Racing 3 – Chompr (Wesley Cwiklo )
    Warcraft III – nilknarf (Franklin Pearsall )
    Starcraft: Brood War – Day (Sean Plott )
    Warhammer 40k – Ir0nclad (Russ Watson )
    Need for Speed: Most Wanted – omegaelite (Kamran Siddiqui )

Congratulations to all these fine cyberathletes.

And now it’s confession time.

When I took this assignment, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, the words “professional” and “gaming” just didn’t seem to fit together in my mind. But having been on the ground, watched the competitions and met many of the players, I have to admit that I feel a bit humbled. And not just because I home from Vegas with a headache “this big” and a bank account “this small.”

The guys and gals who travel the globe to play games, for better or worse, love what they do, and many of them operate at a loss just to participate. (Only the top three players in any game get paid, and even those amounts are a bit slim.) Why, then, do they do it?

It’s certainly not for the fame, and one can hardly assume that it’s for the respect. I mean, both, of course, are in the offering at the end of the day, but only for the winners and then, only on the show floor. Even just outside the ballroom area, in the host hotel, people wearing “World Cyber Games” badges received the standard dirty looks and barely-suppressed chuckles to which those in the game industry have become accustomed. So why spend countless hours practicing and thousands of dollars per year to compete in these events?

Looking up at the stage during the slightly energetic and extremely silly closing ceremony of the WCG USA Championship match in Las Vegas, as the Aladdin hotel staff waited impatiently to start striking tables and chairs and the attending sponsors began packing away their mobile advertising spaces, I caught the eyes of a few of the champions on the stage and understood: Competing against the best of the best feels good, no matter what the game is. And winning must be phenomenal.

Congratulations to the winners, and best of luck in Italy.

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