Long Island-native Nicholas Dicostanzo will be competing this weekend in Austin, Texas at the biannual X Games—the widely popular extreme sports contest featuring adrenaline junkies hurling and contorting their bodies like circus acrobats at the risk of bodily harm.
Injuring vital organs or bruising limbs is not something Discostanzo, a Long Island University student, has to worry about, however.
The 23-year-old professional gamer, of Dix Hills, will be competing Friday in the electronic gaming component of the challenge, dubbed “eSports.” This is the second year in a row that the video gamers will be facing off in the same competition as extreme skateboarders, motorcyclists and BMX athletes.
Who needs a half-pipe, anyway?
Discostanzo won’t have much time to soak in the atmosphere, however. The college undergrad, a member of Team eLevate, will be gaming in the MLG Professional League Championship, hoping to slay his opponents in the first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Since eSports’ X Games involvement last year, the mega-tournament has skyrocketed in popularity and will now be televised. However, the main misconception regarding eSports is whether to label it as a competition or sport.
“These guys practice for hours every day four or five times a week,” says Dicostanzo. “They sacrifice a lot in order to pursue this dream and you begin to see the similarities in the dedication and focus with other sports and athletes.”
Dicostanzo started playing video games in 2007, but only began playing competitively last year. He has since taken his talents across the country, including California, Texas, Florida, and Ohio, winning various team prizes along the way.
In addition to his achievements in the gaming world, Dicostanzo will be receiving his Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Long Island University next year.
“It’s kind of tough,” Dicostanzo admits, “normally I have morning classes, go to the gym, and practice gaming at night.”
The balance between the two seems to be the key to success, but eSports has benefited his academic career as well. Because of Dicostanzo’s success in the gaming world, he has been able to use the prize money acquired through gaming to pay for his education.
“He has been able to pursue a degree without the burden of debt,” explains Nathan Wilson, chief marketing officer of Team eLevate.
Despite the sport’s detractors, eSports certainly has a bright future, evidenced by an ever-heightening awareness about the sport. This year’s event provides another opportunity for its competitors to prove the naysayers wrong.
For Diconstanzo, gaming has been a win-win, literally and figuratively.
“Chasing dreams while having these secondary plans is a possibility because of the success we’ve had in the gaming world,” he says.