Tyler Blevins is better known as Ninja to gamers. That’s because he’s one of the best video gamers in the world. Much like anyone who gets the “best in the world” consideration thrown around, there’s a reason people spend hours watching him do what he does best.
Simply put, Blevins can do things in video games like Fortnite that others simply cannot. The way he builds and shoots is really something to marvel at, and the skills it takes to play at his level come from more than just a lot of practice. Blevins made headlines in March by telling CNBC that he makes $500,000 a month playing Fortnite, and that’s before his endorsement deals and partnerships with companies like Samsung and Red Bull.
But this isn’t a 27 year old just bragging about how much money he makes playing games. As Ninja explained to the New York Times, he thinks it’s important for people to know how successful you can be playing video games, just like any other hobby that takes over your life as you grow up. Like, say, basketball.
Blevins made a similar comparison during an appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon earlier in the week. Asked why people watch others play video games, he compared himself and other gamers to professional athletes in the NFL.
“Why do you want to watch, you know, the best of the best play football, soccer, you know, hockey?” he said. “So you watch the NFL and things like that because you want to watch people do things that you can’t. It’s kind of the same thing with gaming and streaming.”
Blevins has more than 12 million followers on Twitch and more than 50,000 people watch his every stream. At this point he’s popular than any number of athletes on social media, and as games continue to seep into the mainstream gamers like Ninja will only grow in popularity. That means Blevins’ comparison isn’t just apt, it may soon be far less newsworthy than it is right now. This isn’t Ninja calling out James or anyone who makes a lot of money as a professional athlete, just someone asking those skeptical to consider Esports athletes in the same conversation as the best athletes as well.