One of the fascinating things about esports as compared to traditional sporting competitions has to be the way in which various obstacles to success do not apply. In esports, things like physical capability and gender don’t need to keep an aspiring competitor from going pro. The same is true for age. As a prime example, it was recently announced that eight-year-old gamer, Joseph Deen, has signed on to join the roster at Team 33.
According to their website, Team 33 Gaming “operate[s] highly selective and invitation-only esports teams, across a wide range of games and platforms.” The Los Angeles based organization officially made Deen a member of their team this past week, signing the eight-year-old Fortnite player with a bonus “of $33,000 and a gaming setup worth over $5,000,” as reported by The Gamer.com. Known online by his moniker 33 Gosu, Deen’s recruitment has apparently been going on for years at this point. Team 33’s CEO of Regal Assets, Tyler Gallagher, has said that prior to officially joining the organization, Deen “has shown incredible tenacity and commitment to the team over the last two years and has trained almost daily with our team.” Two years ago Joseph Deen would have been a mere six years old.
Despite his young age, 33 Gosu has already made a name for himself as a Fortnite player, and along with the time that Team 33 has invested in training him over the past couple of years, he’s sure to have a successful future with the team. The question then becomes: exactly how far out into the future will that success set in? At just eight years old, Deen is technically not allowed to stream. The minimum age for streaming on Twitch and elsewhere is 13. That puts five years between Deen and his streaming debut.
Still, as far as age goes, Deen isn’t the youngest gamer to go pro. The official title for youngest gamer to go pro, at least according to Guinness World Records, is Victor De Leon III. De Leon, more commonly known as “Little Poison,” started participating in official Halo competitions at the age of four, signing “an exclusive deal with the organisers of Major League Gaming” at the age of seven. It should be noted that De Leon’s youthful ascent into the pro gaming sphere happened in the early 2000s. He made his world record as the “Youngest Professional Gamer” back in 2005. The gaming industry has changed a lot since then.
From De Leon to Deen, young professional gamers have been a part of the esports industry for decades now. It is increasingly likely that gaming organizations will continue to try and maximize their investments in players by getting them on board when they are as young as possible. It might seem strange at first, but it’s not that strange, even in more traditional sports. World famous soccer player Christiano Ronaldo signed his first professional contract at the age of 12. When it comes to gaming, the physical maturity matters a lot less than it does with traditional sports and as more organizations begin to invest in academies and other such programs to cultivate young talent, there are likely to be more and more headlines like that of Team 33’s signing of Joseph Deen.