Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel

[cnn-photo-caption image=

caption=”Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel, 26, became the world’s first full-time professional gamer.”]
I mean, really, which young boy doesn’t want to get paid to play video games all day?! Sure, there are the gamers-turned-developers who can make money. But, Johnathan Wendel, who goes by “Fatal1ty,” makes money, a lot of it, playing games.

Johnathan became the world’s first full-time professional video gamer nearly 10 years ago. He has won competitions around the globe, with earnings estimated at $500,000. Further capitalizing on his brand, he started the gaming gear company, Fatal1ty, Inc.

This 26-year-old considers himself a professional athlete, or “E-Sportsman.” If you think Johnathan has hit the jackpot with no hard work, think again. He trains for hours a day and reviews tapes of himself in action, like any other athlete.

Update: Watch the Live interview

This entry was posted in Amazing talents, Athletes, Stereotype busters. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel

  1. Melissa, Los Angeles says:

    I don’t see how this is any different then people playing professional sports. My questiion is how many hours does he spend on video games each day and does he play both computer and the console games?

  2. Phillip mudzamba says:

    hi am totally inspired by this blog and will make it my priority to make a difference in my country

  3. Jennifer says:

    As the wife of an avid gamer, I see first hand the time commitment necessary to be a great gamer. With all the time you spend perfecting your craft, how do you find work life balance? Is there a Mrs. Wendel? Do you find that your career makes romantic relationships difficult?

  4. Chet Parker says:

    I wonder if he wouldn’t be happier doing something that has some meaning to someone somewhere instead of promoting the mind-numbing practice of sitting in front of a monitor for hours while they slowly lose the ability to function as a human being.

  5. Richard says:

    Good on him! The question I have is that there are a ton of us that are pretty hard core about our gaming, but at what point does he feel that a person can start thinking “Hey, I can actually go out and make money doing this.”? Also, is the pro game playing restricted to first person shooters only or are their other genres for pro players?

  6. JeepChick says:

    I’d like to know how Jonathan balances video games and a healthy lifestyle. He’s very fit, and active, and that is not the stereotypical gamer. 🙂

  7. Lila Bruce says:

    World of Warcraft killed my marriage. The next level and “instances” were more important than family and paying the bills.

  8. Mike says:

    It’s different from being an athlete in that athletes actually move they’re entire body, not just their hands. Gaming requires mental skill not physical skill. He’s not an athlete; he’s a gamer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  9. Headrush says:

    First of all the first professional gamer should largely be considered Thresh, aka: Dennis Fong. Without Thresh, and his ability to draw gamers to Tournaments to watch him play, there would be no Fatal1ty.

    But my main question for John is this: This started out as a hobby for him, but at some point he became obsessive about it and began to excel (I believe Unreal Tournament was his game of choice), and as a result began to win money in sponsored tournaments. I recall reading up on his life, with it literally being dominated by playing the games, day in and day out. This is, some may say, an unsustainable career path. I also can’t imagine it makes the games very much fun to play, once they become work.

    How does he plan on keeping the Fatal1ty brand valid when his hand-eye coordination starts to fail him, and his handle..along with Thresh and others, fades into the History Books?

  10. vise says:

    rock on johan.


  11. Wolff says:

    John is the man! Hope you’re having a blast in Vegas, hopefully we can hang out again next year when I come back..

  12. Dick Fitzwell says:

    Wow, full time gamer. You’re parents must be proud. That must be very challenging. You’ve really raised the bar for the future of this world.

  13. Pam says:

    What video gaming sites did he use to get rich? Is he willing to share how he did this?

  14. Eric Buckner says:

    After meeting John in Vegas with my friend Vise I have to say that he is down to earth and is a dope human being.
    John keep doing you … and heres to much continued success in the years to come.


  15. KS says:

    Someone tell this kid that $500,000 over the course of over ten years really isn’t that much.

  16. Jay says:

    I find it funny how some of you can sit there and judge an individual for following what makes him happy. How many people in the world today end up working careers that do nothing to stimulate them within their own lives? How many of YOU, for that matter, or working a job day in and day out wishing it was some sort of different job? Leave the man alone with the harsh criticism, folks. He’s doing what he loves and he’s based a company off of that. Good for him.

    Parents want their children to succeed. Who are we to judge our children for their source of success? And raising the bar for the future of this world is put upon the shoulders of the world, not one person.

  17. Aman Awal says:

    Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel competed in single player games. Most of the fan base is in team games, such as; Counter-strike or Call of Duty 4. Gaming was on its way to becoming a mainstream, professional activity, but the recession had a big part in destroying a franchise called the CGS. If you type in CGS on Google, the first thing that comes up is a gaming league with a blank web page. I have personally played video games all my life and I am currently attaining my bachelors degree economics, so I am also trying to break the stereotype of lazy, nerdy gamers. I have been playing competitive Counter-strike for almost 4 years now, the atmosphere and competition is immense. and represent majority of competitive gamers. I think the future of pro-gaming is bright, and Johnathan was a pioneer.

  18. dIceMan says:

    I can see how this tallent can go further as to earn money for doing it. Jonathan, I applaud you for that. At least you get money for it. I know plenty bums that play for free, getting fat, living off mom. You set a good name for yourself. Good job.

    I always wanted to do that too.

  19. mondo says:

    I applaud him for his success as a…gamer. However, I would not consider him a “professional athlete.”

  20. Eric Weimer says:

    Ive been playing games for years, I would train harder, and be the best if I was pais too., Thinking of starting a team let me know…Ill play offense, on the left side

  21. Rami says:

    Good stuff John. What game are you dominating now?


  22. Melissa, Los Angeles says:

    @ KS he makes a lot more money than most people do including me!

  23. nicolelapin says:

    Greetings from CES! Thanks for your comments. I chatted with Johnathan today- such a nice guy! I wanted to add to the money debate…I just found out that his company makes 9 figures…watch more in my interview with him tomorrow!

  24. nate says:

    hey are you in to game like world of warcraft or are you more of a xbox player do you play on line games or just normal single player games?

  25. Horka Thane says:

    One day Fatal1ty, we will meet on the battlefield soon. In Quake Live look for the Tourney Aug 13-16th at Good Luck. 😛

  26. obie says:

    as what ive know about fatal1ty is that he plays 3 hours a day (regular game practice etc.) and he jogs everyday (as part of balance)he said once that “you cannot play like 8-10 hours a day to be good in something you have to balance in everything.”


    hes not that good in Counter-Strike and thats a FACT!!! and he plays console games but not that as often coz hes more into PC games

  27. sibusiso says:

    i think that not all of us can persue careers in the things we realy love ,but luckly for peaple like john its possable .everyday is full of excietment ,wish i could quit university and become a professional ,b.boy ……….that would be cool .traveln all over the world doing what i love.

  28. TJ says:

    I find it interesting that someone can consider themselves an athelete in such perameters as this. I also find it interesting that so many people support his addiction to video games. If there were beer drinking or pot smoking comptetions where money could be made I’m sure somone would do that too…and they would call themselves atheletes.

  29. roxy says:

    I think it is great how young people can make a difference in the world. Many people think that just because you are young that there is nothing important for you to do but that is incorrect. Many young people have a big impact on people and you really know that they have changed someone’s life or will help change someone’s life. This article is also very helpful because if you are disabled with something or have a condition, it should not stop you from what you want to do. Many of these people are a great inspiration and give people hope for the future, when they are down or they are disabled. We need more articles like this one to show people that they should be greatful for whatever they have and that they should set a goal and do whatever they want to achieve in life. There are a lot of people that are challenged on an everyday basis but they still live there lives just how they want to and they keep on doing what they believe in. I think its amazing how they can! I give props to these people and root and cheer for them for what they do. 🙂

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