Jordan He, Portrait

Fourth-year Western student and CrossFire superstar, Jordan He, poses on Oct. 16, 2017.

This December, Jordan He will travel to China to play video games, for a chance to win $500,000.

It might be crazy. But it's a testament to the ever-expanding lucrative growth of professional gaming, otherwise known as eSports.

When Jordan was a kid, his daily schedule would look something like this:

School all day, followed by rugby or band practice. When he got home from school, he would do homework or hang out with his buddies for a couple hours. When his parents would go to bed at around 10 p.m., Jordan would stay up until 4 a.m. playing video games. 

Video games have been a passion for the fourth-year economics major since he was eight years old, when he was introduced to Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 by an older cousin at a birthday party.

His cousin and his friends, who are about eight years older than Jordan, didn't let him play that day. But he was hooked. So he borrowed the console, playing Nintendo games every day for two weeks.

That early love affair with classic Nintendo games led Jordan to computer games like Solitaire and Minesweeper.

At the age of 12, Jordan began playing a game called CrossFire. The game, which was developed by South Korean company SmileGate, was first released in 2007 in Korea and reached North America in 2009.

Jordan fell in love with the first-person shooter, enthralled by its fast-paced gameplay. By the age of 13, he was a substitute player on one of the best Crossfire teams in North America. However, as a youngster still in elementary school, it was hard for him to enter into competitions alongside his older teammates.

Eventually, Jordan had to leave the team.

"I asked to go to Korea that year because they were going to a tournament in Korea," said Jordan on his falling out with that first team. "And they were like, oh, we picked up these French players so you can't come. And that upset me."

It upset Jordan so much, in fact, that he quit the game for a year. He went to high school. He lived his life and took time away from CrossFire

When he came back to CrossFire, he wanted to start his own team. At the age of 16, Jordan put together a team of friends he met playing online. They were invited to compete in the Canadian regional qualifying tournament in Montreal, with a chance to compete for a world championship.

That's when Jordan knew he could make money playing video games.

His career in eSports has allowed Jordan the opportunity to travel the world. He's competed in Montreal, Toronto, Brazil and China. In December, he's set to return to China to compete in the CrossFire Grand Finals. The tournament purse will be $850,000, with $500,000 of that going to the winning team.

Jordan's team, which consists of five players won the Canadian qualifying tournament in Montreal, where they earned a winner's prize of $20,000. In January the team was picked up by SetToDestroyX, a professional gaming management team.

As team leader, Jordan previously was tasked with the day-to-day operations of his squad. But after being picked up SetToDestroyX, Jordan now has an entire support staff to take care of sponsorships, handling travel visas and scheduling. 

Jordan isn't sure what the future holds. He doesn't necessarily want to be playing in ten years, but he's interested in the corporate side of the game. The sport is big in China, Korea and Southeast Asia, and is currently seeing exponential growth in North America. As a result, celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal and Jennifer Lopez are flocking to start teams and take advantage of the growth.

Jordan wants a piece of that pie as well. As for the near-future, he is considering going on a year-long tour of China with his team. The tour would include a salary and provided housing arrangements, along with the celebrity treatment that eSports stars experience in China.

"That’s an option I wanted to try," said Jordan on the potential opportunity to tour China. "But I’m not very interested in becoming a player for too much longer because I do like corporate and actually do business. I did an internship at HBC last summer, which was interesting."

Jordan also wants to focus on his schooling. When he first started playing, that's the concern that his parents had about his budding eSports career.

"When I first told them I would start playing they didn’t get it," said Jordan. "When I made it happen then they thought it was cool. And I started making some money so they thought it was cool but they also didn’t want me to get distracted from school."

After that, it's yet to be determined where Jordan's career in the budding world of eSports will take him.

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