22-year-old Ontario-native Chris Loranger known as EG.Huk is one of many professional Starcraft II players trying to make a living off the real-time strategy game (RTS).

On Aug. 16, Loranger made the switch to team to Evil Geniuses from Team Liquid after signing a new contract for “life-sustaining money” according to pro-gamer EG.INControL. While the actual amount has not yet been disclosed, salary-wise Loranger said he thinks he is one of highest paid players in the game, which rumoured to be up to six figures.

Released in 1998, Starcraft centers around a war between three races: Protoss, Terran and Zerg.

Unlike traditional sports such as basketball or football, e-sports found a foothold in South Korea where fans could watch Starcraft games live on cable television. This popularity can be attributed to super-fast broadband speeds, the rise of Internet cafes and Seoul’s dense population, according to The Economist.

In June 2010, with the release Starcraft II, what was once a gated e-sports community in South Korea quickly gained popularity in North America with the growth of leagues such as Major League Gaming, the North American Star League and the IGN Pro League.

Loranger who discovered the world of competitive gaming in high school, after playing everything from Atari to Nintendo, quickly made a name for himself during the beta ranking first on the North American server. In June 2011, Loranger won Dreamhack and Homestory Cup III tournaments back-to-back for combined winnings of roughly $17,000.

“It’s not easy going pro,” Loranger said. “I have a lot more respect for those who have tried or are pro right now, realizing how hard it is to grind as much as you have to.”

During the beta, Loranger said he would aim to play 10 hours a day, with one-hour breaks in-between to eat, shower and exercise. But Loranger has not been alone in his aspirations to be a top-level pro-gamer, adding that Canada has been able to produce quality RTS players such as Testie and FnaticTT1.

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— Illustration by Maybelle Leung