become a full time professional through of Duty

Martinsburg resident earning money in

The 24 year old, who was serving drinks as a part time bartender before the pandemic struck, has been paying his bills through playing video games, of Duty, to be specific.

The game simulates warfare strategy and allows players to see battles through the eyes of soldiers.

Some may scoff at the idea of playing games for a living, but Emerick says today competitive gaming scene requires just as much dedication as more athletic ventures.

practice six to eight hours a day, Emerick said. spend time with your team in scrimmages or whatever. You watch film. It just like sports. You spend all that time every day trying to get better. knows all about more traditional sports. He played football at Central before graduating in 2014 as a fullback and linebacker. He ran for five touchdowns and 327 yards his senior year.

According to one of his best friends, fellow gamer and occasional teammate Zack Smalley of Michigan, that experience has carried over to the way Emerick plays video games.

is super competitive, Smalley said. played a lot of sports and was really into football, and even though he really competitive, he a really good teammate as well. He always lends a helping hand. and Emerick met through of Duty and formed a friendship based off trying to find success in a scene that is hard to enter.

met five or six years ago, Smalley said were both looking for a team, and we ended up teaming together. We went to an event together in Las Vegas and teamed a few times after that. In that time, we became best friends. Smalley, who describes himself as a lifetime gamer, Emerick did not start to get deep into of Duty until his freshman year at Penn State Altoona. Still, he refers to himself as just semi pro for the time being.

not in the pro scene, Emerick said. I guess you could say I a semi pro, because there are only 12 teams in the pro scene, but I have had teammates who are on the pro scene now. had a taste of the biggest stage as a coach last year and hopes to one day become a full time gaming professional.

definitely something I like to do either as a player or a coach, Emerick said. coached a pro team last year at the of Duty (Championship), which is basically the Super Bowl of of Duty. The top 32 teams in the world play together to try and to win the prize money, which is over a million dollars. become a full time professional through of Duty, Emerick would need to be selected for a professional league, and those spots are hard to attain.

For now, Emerick can only play in tournaments against amateurs and semi pro players. But that doesn mean he doesn have an opportunity to make money.

are having tournaments every weekend, Emerick said. of them are $25,000 events. Some are $250,000 events. They are all online now, but that kind of stinks, because online isn the best place for things like this, but it is what it is. You have to do what is offered at this point. prefers playing events in the same location as his opponents, because playing online can lead to unfair advantages that impact the outcome.

you don have really good internet, it really hard, Emerick said, you could be playing against a team in California that has a better internet host and better connection issues, and that can impact what happens. A lot of time, the better team will still win, but online isn always a great place to find out which team is the better team all the time. hasn stopped the Central graduate from cashing in.

had success and made some money off these tournaments, Emerick said. won tournaments online for money as well, but as far as tournaments I have traveled to, I have made money. Not every time, but my highest placing was a top six in London. can also make money by earning a salary through organizations that he represented while playing tournaments that paid him each month at events before the shutdown.

## ## Like most team sports, Emerick can simply rely on himself for success. Teammates like Smalley play a big role in how the team performs.

of Duty, a lot of it is very communication based, Smalley said. have to be extremely vocal with everything you do like where you push on the map, where you rotate on the map and calling out if an opponent is weak. who said his first video game console was a Nintendo 64, still marvels at how far gaming and the competitiveness of the professional scene has come since he was growing up.

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