Gaming Influencers Are the Future of Esports

By CECILIA D’ANASTASIO

LUCAS “MENDO” HÅKANSSON was playing video games for work, but he was not having a good time. He’d sacrificed a lot to be a pro gamer, dropping out of high school to practice Overwatch for up to 18 hours a day. When the Houston Outlaws tapped him to play Overwatch professionally in 2017, he was thrilled. It seemed like his efforts had finally earned him his dream job. Then, reality struck.

There’s a reason why esports pros are called athletes. Håkansson’s schedule with the Outlaws was rigid. He woke up, warmed up, and then spent the rest of the day practicing Overwatch in a tiny, windowless room. “It was honestly a miserable experience being there,” he said. His contract limited when he could stream on Twitch; he says he had to keep the focus on the league, not himself. And always, there was the looming fear that if Activision Blizzard, Overwatch’s publisher, twe

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