A year after Kansas City's Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel rallied to win a top video-game championship, the world's most famous gamer says he's headed the way of many aging athletes: to the broadcast booth.
We caught up with 25-year-old Wendel ((Fear This Geek, January 12, 2006)) by phone last week as he attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The Pitch: We hear you've signed on to do play-by-play.
Wendel: Yeah, I won't be competing in the league. I'll be the global spokesperson for the Championship Gaming Series. It's going to be televised on DirecTV. This is really the next big step for gaming. This is the first real professional league for gaming. My goal is to keep pushing gaming forward and make this thing mainstream for everyone and make this a sport. This is where the players have salaries. There will be general managers. They'll be doing a draft, like the NFL or the NHL.
Are you hanging up the controller?
No, definitely not.
How long will you continue to play?
As long as I can. Right now, my main goal is just making sure that gaming gets the respect that it deserves and making this thing a sport. After that's done, I'll start playing competitively.
You didn't take first in a tournament last year. What happened?
This last year, I didn't really play in a whole lot of tournaments. I won the [Cyberathlete Professional League] World Tour in 2005 for 150 grand, and basically after that, I took a six-month break from gaming to focus on the business side. Throughout the World Series of Video Games, I had to play catch-up to the competition. I got to No. 2 in the world for Quake 4. I don't really have the time to dedicate myself 100 percent to my game at the moment. By no means do I feel great about taking second. For only playing the game six months and everyone else playing it for almost 13 months, taking second and taking the guy all the way to the last map definitely showed that if I'd played the game from the get-go, I may have won all of the tournaments.
How does it affect your brand to take second place?
The brand is the brand. Did it hurt Air Jordan when he didn't make the playoffs when he played? People know how good I am, and they know what I can do. And within six months, taking No. 2 in the world at Quake 4, basically I got a huge amount of congrats and appreciation for doing that. These guys have been playing Quake 3 for the past four or five years. I haven't been playing it at all. The guys that came from Quake 3 and went directly to Quake 4, they had a huge advantage on me. I was the world champion at Quake 3 six times. I stopped in 2001. So five or six years later, doing this, it's crazy.
You've said that your goal is to drive a new Ferrari up to your mom's house. Have you done it?
Do you still want to do that?
Definitely. Without a doubt.