“They thought it was the craziest thing they ever heard.. why would you pay a guy to play baseball?!” – Jason Lake, founder of Complexity Gaming
ProGamer explores the emerging world of electronic sports through the experiences of the most polarizing professional gamer and the most beloved. NANIWA is a in-his-prime 21 year-old Swedish prodigy whose passion for becoming the best player in the world has damaged relationships and opportunities for his career. WHITE-RA is an over-the-hill 31 year-old charismatic Ukrainian struggling to maintain his career while confronting realities of life beyond ProGaming. Their story is told as the uncertain future of electronic sports unfolds around them.
They play a futuristic space warfare game called StarCraft II. It is the most intense, complicated, and difficult game in eSports requiring unbelievable speed and concentration. It is so complex that it remains the last bastion of human dominance over artificial intelligence with its defeats over Chess and Go Grandmasters. In essence, the struggle of all ProGamersis the same, they need to win to survive. Team salary, sponsorships, and prize money all derive from performance just like traditional athletic sports. eSports is already a thriving industry in South Korea with full-fledged teams and players commanding 6-figure salaries. Koreans quickly noticed the increasing prize money in the west and began dominating tournaments taking all the top prize money. The already extremely difficult task of being a ProGamer is made even harder for our characters with Koreans showing up on the western scene.
White-Ra and Naniwa, are both two of the best players in the world but are in very different places in life. Growing up in an opportunity starved Ukraine, White-Ra has used eSports to provide a better life for his family. After almost being beaten to death, a young White-Ra leaves behind his gang related lifestyle in favor of a safer one involving StarCraft where he becomes the famous ProGamer he is now. The surmounting pressure of maintaining his success in the rising eSports industry comes to a head when he gets blood clots.
Naniwa’s history with his parents is unclear but we come to find out that he was essentially raised by eSports. Success to Naniwa is built solely on first place finishes and is constantly at odds with those around him. He puts his already tenuous career in jeopardy when he is ejected from the world’s preeminent tournament, Korea’s Global StarCraft League.
Through the fledgling industry of eSports, ProGamer follows the contrasting lives of Naniwa and White-Ra as they transition into life beyond being a ProGamer.