HOUSTON - If you thought playing video games was a waste of time, you might want to reconsider.
The phenomenon of esports, people playing against each other in live video game competitions for money, is growing by leaps and bounds.
Chris Benell, known as Bani in esports world, says, "I was always like man I hope I can make it there. I've always
played games with the hope to become good enough to make money and win tournaments and stuff like that. It's definitely a dream come true that I've made it this far."
Bani is a pro player for the Houston Outlaws, one of the 12 competing teams in a new league hoping to become the new king of sports.
Chris Buckner, the CEO and co-founder of Fanreact, says, "I will speak to this with so much passion. I think that it is not only here to stay but Newzoo put out a report, and I fully believe it as well, in just four years, we'll be having esports rivaling NFL's viewership."
"Overwatch" is a video game developed in 2014.
The basic premise of the game is somewhat like the movie Terminator, AI robots, designed to usher in an economic golden age for humanity, try to take over the world.
To respond to the crisis, the United Nations forms Overwatch, a team of fighters and adventurers recruited to quash the robot rebellion.
The Overwatch forces defeat the robots, and then end up battling each other.
Millions around the world are watching esports players as they play this game.
Bani says, "It's very exciting because I think this is going to become a huge thing. This isn't just going to last for five years and then fizzle out. It's going to continue to grow and grow and grow and we get to say that we were at the start of it."
Just two years ago, the average professional player was making about $7,000, but now they're earning more than $45,000.
Buckner adds, "Yeah sure you may not be the Top 10 player in the world but you can be the Top 1000 and guess what? You can get paid for it."
It's a whole different scale for those playing in Overwatch League.
Bani says, "They're not treating us like gamers, they're treating us like professional athletes so they're kind of giving us the same treatment that I imagine you get if you were trying to make it the NHL or NBA. I'm living in downtown Burbank for free. Just yesterday, I went to a personal training session that is paid for by our organization and I've got all these cool things like health products that they're giving us to keep us in top form."
They'll put in eight to 10 hours a day working on their game.
From playing in scrimmages, to reviewing game play tape to strategizing with coaches -- it's all so they can keep the edge.
Bani stresses, "There's a lot of players who are definitely aspiring to make it to the Overwatch League and they definitely would be ready to take your spot if you're willing to give it up."
Most of the players are playing in Los Angeles even though they represent teams in Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia or even London.
Eventually the players will call the places they represent as home, but a watch party event held in Houston opened the players' eyes to how appreciated they are.
"The line was just unbelievably long. It was actually kind of surreal on how many people have taken to us so quickly."
So as esports are hitting college campuses with more than 60 scholarship programs, take it from a pro on how to get to the big show.
Bani says, "I think the right way to become a professional in esports is to just play the game so much, that you're good at it."