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It has been a life-long dream of Elizabethtown resident Brendan Franco to travel abroad, but he never dreamed video games would get him there.
Franco, 20, left Monday for Copenhagen, Denmark, to participate in the Copenhagen Games – an international amateur electronic gaming tournament. He will compete in the League of Legends tournament.
“If you would have told me a month ago I would be going to play in this tournament, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy,’” he said. “It’s not something I would have ever expected in my life.”
To play in the tournament was a spur-of-the-moment decision, having only joined his team a little more than a month ago. Shortly after joining, the team earned a sponsorship for the tournament and it has given Franco little time to be nervous about the scenario.
“My main focus is to get there,” he said. “I’m trying my best not to feel pressure.”
Franco will be playing with five teammates – two from France, two from Germany and one from Finland – he met online. They have been practicing together at least six hours a day, five days a week. With all that, Franco is able to balance being a full-time college student at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and having a part-time job.
The team recently played in a tournament where Franco’s team placed third and his share of the winnings was $250. The success garnered attention from GSI, a French company, which agreed to sponsor the team’s entry fee into the tournament, pay for travel expenses and rent a house where the team will stay while there. Because all of Franco’s teammates live in Europe, they asked him to pay 30 percent of his plane ticket.
The tournament is played in front of an audience – online and live – and is in a best-of-three format to advance. The top prize for the tournament is $15,000.
The success of the team is based on strategy, which is what originally drew Franco to the game a couple years ago.
“It usually comes down to a good strategy, good teamwork and a good plan,” he said. “We’re one of the younger teams, but we have an unknown factor, which could work to our advantage.”
Franco is confident in his team’s ability to advance and play in the finals April 20.
“There’s a lot of good teams there to get to that point,” he said. “But if we do get to that point, there’s no reason not to think I won’t come home with some money.”
Although Franco doesn’t see gaming as a long-term plan – he is studying computer science – he is appreciative something he enjoys doing has given him this opportunity.
“It still hasn’t set in,” he said. “I get to experience a different culture than what I’m used to and being in gaming has allowed for that. It’s going to be something I can take with me forever.”
Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.