The growth of eSports keeps moving forward, as more players continue to pursue careers that center on streaming games and competing on the grand stage against others from around the world. With the advent of the Battle Royale genre, headlined by games like PUBG Corporation's PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Epic Games' massively popular Fortnite, the entire market sector of gaming has exploded to the point that one gamer has risen above them all to grace the cover of ESPN for the very first time.
Richard Tyler Blevins, who goes by the highly popular online handle of Ninja, shared the above on his official Twitter account. He managed to snag that two-syllable handle on Twitter and Twitch, somehow out-hawking all the 12-year-olds and kung-fu classic fanatics who probably desperately wanted "Ninja" as their handle. And as depicted in the tweet, Ninja is the first ever professional gamer to make the cover of ESPN. Not only is the prolific Twitch-streamer on the cover of the physical magazine, but that issue will also feature a full-on profile of the Fortnite mega-star.
The feature is also available online over on the official ESPN website as well. It details Ninja's strenuous schedule that basically consists of streaming Fortnite all day long. When Ninja attends events in real life, he meets with fans -- mostly young kids and teenagers -- and takes photos and signs autographs. He's essentially a mega-star in the world of esports entertainment, despite not having big muscles like a football player in the NFL, or the height of a power-forward in the NBA.
The cover story is quite in-depth, too, covering the present-day mainstream media antics Ninja is involved in, which includes streaming charity games with sports stars and celebrities and losing Twitch subscribers in the process, much to his chagrin. The profile also hits upon the moments that helped carve out Ninja's meteoric rise to fame. It wasn't too long ago that the 27-year-old was at time, playing a game of Fortnite with none other than music star, Drake. Teaming up with Travis Scott and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the squad went on to make Twitch.tv history by breaking the concurrent viewer record. Those totals are definitely comparable to what some of the biggest primetime television shows bring in, and Ninja has cumulatively amassed a following of subscribers the likes of which many TV shows would die to have: 11 million followers and counting.
Ninja's foray into mainstream brings with it all the vices and virtues one would expect from becoming mega-famous. Only it isn't a blockbuster movie like Mission Impossible: Fallout or Avengers: Infinity War turning the big bucks for Ninja and his wife...it's playing a game of survival against 99 other players in intense kill-or-be-killed action within the current trend of Battle Royale games. Let's see how Tom Cruise does with it.
Whether you like or dislike eSports doesn't really matter at this point, because Tyler "Ninja" Blevins still gets to say that he was the very first hardcore professional gamer to grace the cover of ESPN.