Meet Cincinnati Fear's first professional esports athlete
Stephen Schmidt’s parents don’t worry anymore their son is spending too much time gaming.
“The last year of high school, when I came home from a tournament with $600 that I just won, and they’re like, ‘OK, if you keep doing this you can keep going, as long as your grades stay good and you keep bringing home money,' " remembers Schmidt. "They didn’t have an issue with it.”
He’s bringing home a lot more than that these days. The Oak Hills and UC graduate has winnings totaling more than $10,000.
Schmidt’s specialty is Super Smash Brothers, a crossover fighting game series featuring characters from various Nintendo franchises. At the May 28 Lift-Off Smash Regional in Nashville, he took second.
This spring Cincinnati Fear, the city’s fourth professional esports team, signed Schmidt as its first pro.
Jackie Reau is president of the club and was excited to start it after noticing how enthusiastic her students were. “I’m an adjunct professor at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University and every time I bring esports with a business lens into the classroom the students overachieve.”
Cincinnati Fear not only includes professional players but collegiate and high school athletes as well. Look for the club to establish a greater media presence in the coming weeks with podcasts and an esports lifestyle TV show. Reau says the team is also hiring.
Schmidt looks forward to expanding his own media presence with a YouTube Channel or podcasts. He doesn’t know how long he’ll stick with Super Smash Brothers — it’s a hobby now. Schmidt’s degree is in finance, and he hopes to eventually become a financial adviser.
But for right now, the only money he is counting is his own.