Long Island Pro Gamer Returns Home a Little Richer, Wiser

X Games
Long Island University undergrad Nicholas Dicostanzo is competing in the eSports video gaming component of the popular extreme sports X Games in Austin, Texas this weekend as a member of Team eLevate. (Photo Courtesy of Team eLevate)

With his team earning four bronze medals and $10,000 in cash prizes, Long Island’s top-skilled video gamer Nicholas Dicostanzo has returned home to Dix Hills after competing at the X Games in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.

For the second year in a row, the extreme sports contest featured eSports, an electronic gaming competition, but for the first time, it was broadcasted live on ESPN. Dicostanzo’s four-member Team eLevate suffered a disappointing 4-0 loss in their final game, but the eSports competitors have certainly gained a lot more than they lost by landing in third place.

“Obviously there were a lot of gameplay mistakes that I’m hashing over in my mind,” said Dicostanzo. “So I just keep playing and working on what I identify as my greatest weaknesses, building my intuition and reactions, and working on communication.”

Diconstanzo, who’s been playing video games since 2007, only began playing competitively last year, winning team prizes across the country. For the MLG Professional League Championship in Austin, they were virtually slaying opponents in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Compared to extreme skateboarding or BMX racing, eSports certainly differs from typical physical sports, but they share more similarities than not.

“To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me if the world thinks of eSports as on the same level as athletic sports,” said Dicostanzo. “I know we put in a ton of time and practice like the athletes do, and we actually press to the physical limits similarly. But I don’t occupy myself with what others think about how eSports is situated.”

He said his interactions with the other athletes proved to be supportive and insightful, helping both gamers and X-Game regulars gain mutual respect.

“They were totally cool,” said Dicostanzo. “A lot of them play video games all the time, so they were interested in seeing how professional gamers play…Just like we were impressed by the stunts they could pull off, they were amazed to see the level of play we had.”

So what’s next for the 23-year-old Long Island native, besides getting his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at the end of the year from Long Island University?

“I enjoy getting back home, but I am focused on season three,” said Dicostanzo. “We’re putting together our roster now and want to make sure it’s top-quality, so we’ll see how that develops. We have a couple of plans in the works.”