Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 30, 2018

MU Student Wins $20K in Video Game Tournament

Allyson Fogerty


First-year pre-physical therapy major, Justin Ahlgrain, was in for the ride of his life when he discovered an online game. His older brother, Jacob Ahlgrain, also from Manchester University, introduced him to SMITE.

SMITE is a free to play, third-person multiplayer online battle arena game. Each team has five players who choose from an array of god or goddess and compete against another team to defeat each other’s Phoenixes and ultimately, the Titan. Players must defeat the Titan to win the game. Ahlgrain’s role in his team was that of a mid-lanner. Ultimately the easiest to kill, they also inflict the most damage and are essential to killing the other people.

Ahlgrain began playing the game with a competitive mindset; he had played Call of Duty competitively, but never professionally. He knew that this time may be different. To gain entrance into the SMITE world championship, teams must first compete in online matches and then progress to offline matches. From there, the teams are ranked by how well they did in these competitions and the top ones are offered a spot in the world championship. The award for winning the championship is a cash prize.

The amounts vary. In January, Ahlgrain and his team were chosen to participate in the championship after one of the main teams set to compete suffered a surprising loss. The team flew out to the event, a cost that the company pays for, and Ahlgrain walked away a champion and $20,000 richer.  When he first started playing, Ahlgrain’s parents were convinced the game was a scam and were hesitant to let him participate. “Let me know when you can make money from the damn thing,” his father said. Luckily, with a lot of convincing, Ahlgrain was allowed to continue, and prove to his dad that money is possible from online gaming.

Ahlgrain plans to play “as long as I can,” and feels that the experience has changed him positively as a person. It gave him the chance to meet new people that he would not normally be exposed to, as well as teaching him how to respect the difference each person may bring. He says that some of his best friends have been made playing this game and competing in these competitions.

The championship was able to be streamed on and hi-rez tv. His mother watched from their home, and when she saw her child win, she cried tears of pride.