Virtual Stars Compete for Real Money

From the New York Times:

Fatal1ty and Vo0 stood on opposite sides of a darkened theater while an announcer boomed their introductions to an appreciative crowd. Their faces magnified on giant overhead monitors, the two stared straight ahead while artificial smoke swirled around them. They met at center stage and shook hands before starting what the announcer called their “grudge match.”

The victor of the match, which took place last month at the Nokia Theater in Times Square, left with $150,000, while the loser earned $100,000.

Despite the size of the purse, the two rivals weren’t athletes, at least not in the traditional sense. They call themselves “cyber-athletes” and their match, which was broadcast on MTV and followed online by thousands of fans, took place in a violent videogame called “Painkiller.”

The event, dubbed the World Tour Grand Finals, was one of 10 contests in nine countries organized by the Cyberathlete Professional League, or C.P.L. In the last year, the tour has given away $1 million in prize money. The C.P.L. is one of several leagues worldwide attempting to turn a popular pastime into a spectator sport.

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