When I was at school back in the mid-00’s, if I’d asked my dad to let me sack off showing up for lessons every day so I could focus on my budding eSports career, he would’ve laughed me out of the room (and potentially started the process of legally disowning me).
But the mid-00’s were a simpler time. Freddo bars still only cost about 15p, and the eSports scene was nowhere near the thriving powerhouse of profit and opportunity it is today. I became a journalist instead, because that’s where the money really is.*
*It’s really not.
Clearly, my life went down a drastically different path to that of 16-year-old Jordan Herzog, better known as Crimz in the gaming community. The Boston Globe reports that the teenager is so invested in making it big as an eSports star, that his dad, Dave Hezrog, is doing whatever he can to help – including taking his son out of school to allow him more time to focus on his dream.
Jordan was withdrawn from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School last year, apparently initially against the wishes of his mother. The teenager still has to receive a traditional education by law though, so he’s currently attending online classes for a few hours a day. The majority of his days, however, will be spent in front of the computer honing his skills – around eight to ten hours, in fact.
In addition to removing his son from school, the 49-year-old father has reportedly spent in excess of $30,000 on top of the range gaming equipment, and has even put family holidays on hold in an effort to keep Jordan’s focus razor-sharp.
Jordan tells The Boston Globe that his ultimate goal is simply to “make enough money to not have to work for most of my life”, while his dad explained that he’s been “breeding” his son for this, and believes it’s the best possible opportunity for him.
Dave claims he saw the rise of the eSports phenomenon coming years ago, and put a controller in Jordan’s hands from as early as three. By seven, the boy was a talented Halo player. He won his first gaming tournament at 12, netting $2,000 worth of gaming accessories for his troubles. Dave says that’s when “the light bulb went off”, and it became clear Jordan could make a real go of pro-gaming.
To date, Jordan has already earned $60,000 via tournaments. The teenager has also qualified for the Fortnite World Cup later this month, which boasts a prize pool of $30 million. The overall champion will take home $3 million.
Dave claims that Jordan is as invested in this shared dream as he is, but The Boston Globe’s report notes that Jordan rarely eats with his family, instead having to finish meals alone by the computer. Earlier in the year, Dave also reportedly blocked Jordan from going to play tennis with his mum, explaining that he was worried his son would injure his wrist.
While Dave’s intensive training schedule for Jordan has its critics, he feels that if it were piano, or sport, or acting, his commitment to his son’s future would be applauded. He says “because it’s video games, it’s child abuse.”
Since publishing this article, we reached out to Jordan himself, who feels all coverage of his eSports ambitions have painted his dad in a bit of an unfair light.
He noted that the issue of his dad “blocking” him from playing tennis with his mum was taken out of context, and was, as Jordan says; “basically my dad telling them that there was a day that I wanted to play in a tournament and my mom wanted me to go play tennis with her, and he knew what was best”
Jordan also wanted to make it clear that not eating with his family is his choice, and that his dad “is actually the person who wants me to eat with my family.” Jordan told us he “fought” to eat in his room so he can watch YouTube and talk with his teammate, who currently lives with the family.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.