A professional eSports team signs a 15-year old Hearthstone prodigy prompting Lee Davy to get out his broken record and start playing the ‘teenage kids will one day be professional poker players tune’.
Professional eSports team, Archon, has signed Hearthstone talent William “Amnesia” Barton. He is only 15-years of age making him the youngest professional Hearthstone player in eSports.
Is 15 too young to be stitching the word ‘professional’ into his school jumper? I bow down to the personal mantra of the Manchester United legend Sir Matt Busby, who once said: “If you’re good enough, you’re young enough.”
Sir Matt Busby, of course, was the curator of the Busby Babes. He would be the most immortalised of United managers until a certain young man from Glasgow stepped up to the plate and became the most successful manager in the history of the game.
Sir Alex Ferguson had Fergie’s Fledglings. They were a group of young players that Alan Hansen famously said, during a 1995 Match of the Day program, that: “You can’t win anything with kids.” United went on the win the league by four points; no doubt inspired by the quote that adorns the dressing room wall.
Archon’s CEO, Jason “Amaz” Chan will also hope to prove Hansen wrong. Barton was giving Chan Hearthstone lessons when he was just 14-years of age. During a recent interview with PC Gamer, Barton was asked if his cherubic age gave him an advantage when handling nerves because he has no fear?
“I don’t know about being young, but I’ve been competing since I was four!” Barton replied.
Barton found Hearthstone when he was 12-years of age, and finished as the number one legend on the North American server last season. In that same interview, with PC Gamer, he said he plays an average 10-hour per week, has never spent a penny on the game and handles tilt by doing his homework.
Barton’s rise to prominence has gotten me thinking. Could we one day see teenagers competing at the very highest level in the realm of professional poker?
Authorities view poker as a form of gambling and apply appropriate age restrictions.
What if that were to change?
I know people think I live in my little world, but then again, would you have ever thought that professional video gaming could become a billion dollar industry?
The way poker is perceived will change, and when it does, we will look back and give a nod of approval to a certain Frenchman and his vision known as the Global Poker League (GPL).
I’m starting to sound like a broken record. I know. But I’m excited. Archon signing Amnesia is a major news story for the eSports media. Everyone loves a new signing. It’s the reason NFL fans love the draft; football fans love the transfer window, and kids spend fortunes buying player packs for FIFA.
Well, wouldn’t it be exciting for Team Vorsprung Durch Technik to one day announce the signing of Philipp Gruissem, or Team Cheeseburger Salesman to announce the signing Phil Hellmuth Jr.?
The GPL franchise idea will make this happen.
Full Steam Ahead!
Amaya Gaming has recently submitted their Full Tilt software to the Steam Greenlight process. If they get the thumbs up, and there is no reason not then a quarter of a million eyeballs gazing at the Steam platform will catch a glimpse of online poker.
Checking on Steam stats today, 779,837 people were playing Dota 2, and 643,181 were playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. PokerStars holds the Guinness World Record for the most players playing online poker at a single poker room, and it was 307,016 players competing across 42,814 tables in Sep 2009.
There is some work to do.
There will be a lot of teenagers amongst those Steam numbers. Teenagers all determined to stick it to their parents, and show them that playing video games – including online poker – is not a waste of time.
Earlier this year, Jasper Hamill wrote an op-ed for The Mirror headlined ‘Video games are destroying young men – it’s time to kick this modern addiction.’
Hamill refers to a book called Man Disconnected: How Technology has Sabotaged What is to be Male by Phillip Zimbardo. He writes about video games being, ‘One of the albatrosses weighing young men down academically, socially and sexually.”
“Men are rotting away, lost in virtual worlds and ignoring the real one.” Wrote Hamill.
I guess nobody told him that 43% of gamers are female.
Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken and Super Better, is the Director of Games Research and Development at the Institute of the Future, and she will disagree with Hamill – a lot.
“The truth is this: in today’s society, computer and video games are fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy.” Writes McGonigal in Reality is Broken. “Games are providing rewards that reality is not. They are teaching and inspiring and engaging us in ways that reality is not. They are bringing us together in ways that reality is not.”
When immersed in his virtual world I see my young son come alive. I’ve seen him spend hours constructing the most amazing buildings in Minecraft. Do you know what he wants to do one day? He wants to design and build his home. A goal that has no doubt surfaced from the game a young Scandinavian designed and gave away to millions of teenagers around the world.
Gaming technology is not going to reverse itself. It will get more advanced. Whether we like it or not, more and more people will be attracted to more and more advanced video games, while the world at large continues to suck Vaseline coated chestnuts.
I can see this.
Jane McGonigal can see this.
Alex Dreyfus can see this.
Poker will become a part of the eSports fabric at some time in the future. People like Dreyfus will push us that way. Companies like Amaya Gaming will push us that way. And when we arrive, a section of our industry will break like an iceberg. It will become a professional sport. A sport where players stand to compete in a cube, where they are paid to play and where teenage kids are wearing more bracelets than their Mum. Teenage kids who will be seen as old enough, because they’re good enough.