This was the biggest year ever for eSports. Competitive gaming has more players, a bigger audience, and a brighter future than ever before. Over a period of 10 days, the Daily Dot will profile people who've fueled this unprecedented growth, from top players to industry visionaries.
In earlier pieces, we looked at Cosmo Wright, the king of speedrunnning, and a Leage of Legends star so good his nickname is simply "God." Today, we're introducing you to Chris Gonzalez, the best fighting game player alive.
You can call him Chris Gonzalez. But, at this point, Chris Genius might be more fitting.
No gamer has won as many tournaments this year as Gonzalez, who has taken home over three dozen medals at big fighting game tournaments across multiple games. He plays about 10 games at a world class level, a number that no one else comes close to.
And ever since that famous StarCraft curmudgeon Greg “Idra” Fields, no other American champion has simultaneously been such a villain and hero to so many people.
Competitively, this has been an all-time great year for Gonzalez. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he’s been close to unstoppable. His Twitter feed might be mistaken for a jewelry store for all the gold he posts after major tournaments.
Unlike some pro gamers, Gonzalez is not afraid to speak his mind. He regularly and loudly voices his discontent—especially about the fact that fighting game champions are not financially rewarded for their talent and hard work in the same way that League of Legends or StarCraft players are. He has no qualms about calling out the Evolution Champion Series, the de-facto world championships of fighting games and one of the most beloved tournaments in the world.
“Before I really wanted to win Evo, but now it's just like I don't even want to be there," Gonzalez said last month at a tournament in Detroit. “I just don't like what it represents. I don't like the fact that you try so hard throughout the whole year to not really get anything."
But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re compiling reasons why Gonzalez is often perceived as a villain, the list is extensive. As anyone familiar with the New York Yankees or Manchester United knows, domination breeds contempt. And calling out an eSports institution like Evo has won him more enemies than friends.
In April, he was was twice accused of throwing matches by fans and players alike. Later, he became entangled in a Twitter fight with Evolution Championship Series cofounder Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar. Gonzalez publically called Cuellar a “faggot.” He deleted the tweet and then, inexplicably, said he stood behind what he’d said. One wonders, if Gonzalez was able to control his temper, would he be getting paid the salary he feels he deserves from a wealthier eSports organization?
But we're not interested in profiling the nice or the most PC people in eSports. There’s no denying that Gonzalez’s in-game talent has earned him a whole lot of attention. His antics outside the game have garnered a ton of press as well. People find a lot to love and hate about the man they call Christ Geezus. But few find any reason to doubt that his reign is anything less than extraordinary.
Photo via FingerCramp/YouTube