Johnathan Wendel is the former best professional gamer in the world and a pioneer for eSports. Since his years as a champion competitor, he has dedicated his time to traveling and speaking globally to get eSports the recognition and popularity he believes it deserves.
The big prizes and approval were not always what they are today. When Wendel was starting out in the early 90s he played Quake as a hobby with his friends and went to local meetups and competitions. In 1999, he competed in the Cyberathlete Professional League, his first professional competition.
From his professional debut, Wendel was hailed as one of the best eSports players of all time, especially in FPS (first-person shooter) games. He has proven his skill by competing in Doom 3, Alien VS Predator 2, Quake 3 and Painkiller to name a few. During his career, he amassed twelve World Championship titles, including four ‘Player of the Year’awards from Cyberathlete Professional League and the World Cyber Games. In 64 of the 72 professional gaming tournaments he entered, he finished in the top three, a record that may never be surpassed. He retired from competitive eSports in 2006, a champion.
For his services to eSports, Johnathan Wendel was presented with the first-ever lifetime achievement award for Esports and in 2010 he was indited into the International Video Game Hall Of Fame.
Since his retirement, Wedel has devoted his time to gaining exposure for eSports. He has been featured in the biggest publications in the world including The New York Times, Forbes and the BBC World Service talking about his career as the first professional gamer and the importance of eSports being taken seriously as competitive entertainment. In 2006 Wendel addressed violence in video games at the Gaming Internet Marketing Association and in 2007 he became an eSports ambassador for DirecTV.
Inspiring the next generation is important for Wendel and in October 2019 he spoke with over 150 students from Japan that were aspiring eSports stars. Most recently, Wendel was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Casino ESports Conference in Las Vegas. He spoke about whether regulated gambling would become a part of the eSports culture, as it is with traditional sports.
Wendel is not only a recognised eSports legend but he is also a passionate advocate for the sport of professional gaming. He speaks openly about what it was like as a pioneer for the professional scene and the challenges he’s faced when campaigning for people to accept that eSports as a sport.
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