British Columbia

Vancouverite Kurtis 'Aui_2000' Ling's team wins $6.6M US playing Dota 2 video game

Kurtis Ling, 22, left university to play video games professionally, and now his team has won the top prize at The International, worth $6.6 million.

22-year-old who left university to play video games takes home record prize money with team

Vancouverite Kurtis 'Aui_2000' Ling's team wins playing Dota 2, 22-year-old who left university to play video games 2:06

The first time Kurtis Ling came home from a video game tournament with a few thousand dollars in prize money, his mother thought it was a hoax.

But when his team, Evil Geniuses, won $6.6 million US last weekend in Seattle, Pat Ling knew her son's job is very real — and she's understandably proud.

"We were just thrilled. It is incredible, we never knew video games could have such a big impact on people."

Kurtis, 22, is on a team with five players who take on other teams in the multiplayer online battle known as Dota 2.

They beat 15 other teams at The International, a sold-out tournament with the best Dota players in the world and more than $18 million US in prize money.

The Ling family hooked up their TV to the computer to watch the final on Saturday from their East Vancouver home, with sister Kaitlin explaining to her parents what was going on.

But Pat Ling said she couldn't bear to watch. just like when the Vancouver Canucks were in the Stanley Cup finals.

"I was too nervous ... although I didn't understand it, I was very nervous for him, so I went to cook supper."

Ian Hanomansing takes a closer look at the world of professional video games, or e-sports 7:23

Left UBC to play full-time

Long before his parents understood video game playing could be a job, Ling dreamed it would be his.

"When I was young I never really wanted to become a policeman or fireman, I just wanted to play games all day, and it's probably worrisome for my parents," Kurtis told Ian Hanomansing in a report for CBC's The National last year.

"But that's really what I wanted and somehow I've been granted that wish."

After Saturday's win, Pat Ling recalled how her family — like many others — had struggles with their son's video game playing, especially in high school.

"Playing computer games was such a contention … we set time limits and boundaries, homework first, etc.," she said.

"We viewed someone playing video games as someone just sitting in front of the computer and playing and playing and not doing anything else.

"As a parent when you look at that, you're thinking, 'Oh no, that's my son and he's wasting his life.'"  

During university, Ling started making money in the growing field of e-sports, and three years ago left school to game full time, said his mom.

Last year, he told CBC he was making in the "low six figures," and occasionally e-sports fans would stop him on the street and call him by his gaming handle, Aui_2000.

Now, he's taking a share of $6.6 million US home to Vancouver, where he plays — or rather, works — in his parents' basement.

"There's this sort of stereotype where you have the unemployed male playing video games all day in his parents' basement," he said last year. "That's actually me, that's who I am, except I'm employed in it."

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 22 teams were playing in the main competition at The International. The correct number is 16.
    Aug 10, 2015 4:46 PM PT

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