GAME ON: From Starcraft to Scholar

Recently Nexus had a virtual sit down with Luke Horan, a student here at the University of Waikato who is a 2020 Esports Scholar, to have a chat about his career in Esports, and it becoming more and more mainstream.

Nexus: How long have you been involved with gaming?

Luke: I’m 19 now and started playing online web games when I was 5. The first time I tried to get to a high level at a competitive game was StarCraft 2 (2010 release).

Nexus: How long have you been doing it at this level?

Luke: I first started playing in top tier competitive leagues in late 2017, before then I just played for fun at a reasonably high level in whatever game I was playing at the time.

Nexus: What games do you play on the side? What’s your main game?

Luke: My main competitive game was Heroes of the Storm, now it is League of Legends. For fun, I enjoy playing Borderlands, osu! and more recently Beat Saber.

Nexus: What’re the best and worst bits about the game?

Luke: League is a very complex game, between a large number of playable characters and the high number of moving parts the level of strategy is very deep. There are some pretty clear issues with the game design that a frustrating, and the community can certainly be obnoxious.

Nexus: How many hours a week do you put into it?

Luke: Between individual practise, watching top-level play around the world and playing in the various tournaments for the university I’d spend between 20-30 hours a week on League.

Nexus: How long have you been playing this game?

Luke: I started playing League December 2018, the same day that the Heroes of the Storm pro league was cancelled.

Nexus: What is the future looking like for you with gaming? Do you see yourself making a living off it whether it be streaming or pro play?

Luke: I find myself more and more enjoying breaking down the game design and player thought processes more so than actually playing. Instead of being a player, I think I’d more likely end up either as a coach, a commentator, or a game developer Perhaps even a combination of all of these is possible.

Nexus: Gaming can be taxing on your health, do you do anything to stay fit and healthy?

Luke: I look to maintain a reasonable diet and exercise routine. Currently, I find Beat Saber to be both more enjoyable and a better workout than anything else.

Nexus: What do your parents or family think of it?

Luke: My parents are very supportive, when growing up they’d pretty much let me spend as much time as I wanted playing video games, so long as I maintained good school results. My extended family don’t really understand video games but can appreciate what goes into playing at a top-level.

Nexus: Have you had much success in terms of competition?

Luke: In 2018 as well as finishing year 13 of high school, I was a professional Heroes of the Storm player. In the first half of the year my team finished third in the Australia/New Zealand league, and in the second half finished fourth. last year the university’s League of Legends team finished fourth out of 12 teams in the NZ University Masters.

Nexus: What’s the community usually like? Are they friendly compared to what the communities online are sometimes like?

Luke: League of Legends is pretty well known for having a rather aggressive community, unfortunately. There can be a large amount of toxicity and disrespect that gets thrown around by the average player, far more so than in most other games.

Nexus: Do you think esports are becoming more accepted in the mainstream population?

Luke: While less so in New Zealand, esports are very much becoming normalised around the world. The coronavirus outbreak actually sped things up a lot as the mainstream sports weren’t able to play while esports tournaments were able to move to online play fairly quickly.

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