Getting paid to play video games is something many of us can only dream of. With the advent of the Championship Gaming Series last year, that has become a reality for six teams of North American gamers. The CGS has expanded for its second season, now spanning six regions, which includes every continent except Antarctica. This weekend is the second North American Combine and Draft in the history of the series, and Canadian gamer, Andrew "anomaly" Brock will be there in the thick of the action.
Brock was picked up in the sixth round of draft picks at last year's Combine and Draft held at the Playboy Mansion, and has since had a whirlwind year playing for the Chicago Chimeras, including winning the CGS World Finals last December. And if all goes well this weekend, he should have another gaming-packed year ahead of him.
"The CGS has provided me and many other gamers around the world with an amazing opportunity and I plan to run with it as long as I'm having fun doing it," Brock said. "I'm very excited about the upcoming season and beyond."
Each of the eighteen different international teams competes on the same games. This season, the list has been expanded to include five titles: Counter-Strike Source, Dead or Alive 4, Forza Motorsport 2, FIFA 08, and the newest franchise to be added, World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade. Brock will be playing FIFA 08 to remain in the CGS, and hopefully on the Chicago Chimeras.
"It's difficult to envision myself playing with any other team besides Chicago," Brock said. "I'm really happy here and I think that we have a great team now and for the foreseeable future. I feel at home with this team and as I said before have become good friends with everyone involved with the franchise."
Brock and his teammates comprise only one of the six teams that will be at the Combine and Draft, each team vying to recruit new talent, and protect old. The teams can protect five of the ten players from their 2007 roster, and the remaining players will duke it out in the draft pool with the new talent competing for the opportunity to represent a team.
"It's all about playing your best at the combine and proving that you are worthy of a spot on a team," Brock said. "I'm really looking forward to it this time around because the FIFA pool is much more competitive and the combine itself should be very interesting."
To qualify for last year's Combine and Draft, Brock played in an online tournament from home, which provided him with the stipend to pay for his trip, and the qualification to compete for a spot on a CGS team. Since them, he and his teammates have competed many times, but in Brock's eyes, nothing compares with the feeling of winning the World Finals.
"The atmosphere was electric the entire night and it was just such an incredible experience all around," Brock said. "Over the past seven years that I've been involved in gaming, I've played in so many tournaments in many different places and venues, but for now nothing can top what went down that night."
At the end of the day on Sunday, Brock will know whether his FIFA skills stack up to his competitors well enough to spend another year of traveling, competing, and getting paid to do what we all love: gaming.
"My hopes are no different from any of the other gamers in attendance," Brock said, "to be drafted onto a CGS franchise. Regardless whether I am retained, or drafted elsewhere I just want to come out of the draft a CGS player once again for 2008."
Brock said he was unaware of rumors that CGS might be struggling financially.
"I really don't know anything about such rumors, but what I do know is that the CGS is the first global professional gaming league which garnered a $US 5 million global payroll for its players," he said. "The World Finals reached over 350 million households world-wide on DirecTV and their affiliates BSkyB, Star Asia, and Star Sports. The World Finals also boasted a prize purse of over $US 1 million. It was an exciting and successful first season for the league, and to me it appears to be thriving!"
The Combine and Draft will be streamed live on March 9 at the CGS's website, www.thecgs.com.
Picture from CGS, courtesy of Andrew Brock.