Johnathan Wendel — better known as “Fatal1ty” — was the first famous professional gamer. He’s been winning money by virtue of being much, much, MUCH better at games than other people since 1999, and has been the subject of countless interviews like this one with Forbes in which the general tone of the interview is “Isn’t it crazy this guy plays video games for money?!”:[embedvideo id=”Q275Qh4ESao” website=”youtube”]
Johnathan was there for the rise of e-sports, and now that they’re more popular than ever he’s emerged as something of an elder statesman in the field. He’s got his own line of gaming gear and technology and he’s still as competitive as ever, but he’s stepped away from the grind of organized e-sports leagues. Now he’s looking for ways to support the gaming world that grew up along with him, and one way in which he’s doing that is by participating in Ubisoft’s reality gaming competition, The Next Level.
I spoke to Johnathan via phone recently, and he shared his excitement about The Next Level competition, which will take place this weekend at PAX East. The event is structured along the same lines as The Voice, with Johnathan acting as one of four coaches who will pick players for their individual teams. Johnathan made it clear that he’s going to be looking for “the best all-around gamer,” which makes sense because the competition will involve a diverse pool of games, including The Crew, Trials Fusion, Powerstar Golf, and a “mystery game” that won’t be announced until right before the final round of competition each day.
Johnathan let me know that he was really looking forward to his role in The Next Level, both because it provides him with an opportunity to use his experience and knowledge to “give back” to younger gamers and because each of the three days that his team emerges victorious Johnathan will earn $5,000 for his chosen charity, Operation Supply Drop, which provides video games to U.S. soldiers.
Aside from his preparations for The Next Level, Johnathan continues to be a dedicated gamer. His biggest gaming love at the moment? Titanfall.
“I like the game a lot because it’s so fast-paced,” Johnathan said, “Gamers were getting tired of slow-paced games like Call of Duty. Faster games like Titanfall are more dependent on skill and fast-twitch reflexes.”
Johnathan also shared his hope that Titanfall will inspire a new breed of faster FPS games in the future. “Hopefully things just keeping getting faster and faster,” he said. “I would love that.”
When asked about upcoming games that he’s looking forward to, Johnathan was ambivalent. “I haven’t really seen anything that excites me that much. Right now the Battlefield 4 DLC and Titanfall are enough for me.”
I asked Johnathan specifically what he thought of Destiny, the sci-fi shooter from Bungie that will be released later this year, and he made it clear that he isn’t sold on that title yet. “I saw it at E3 last year and I didn’t really see the competitive side of it. I’m not that into co-op play. I like it when I can compete against human beings.”
Thanks to Johnathan for taking the time to talk to GameCrate. You can check out videos of Johnathan competing against human beings in Titanfall and Battlefield 4 on his Youtube channel. You can also follow him on Twitch and Twitter.