This was the biggest year ever for eSports. Competitive gaming has more players, a bigger audience, and a brighter future than ever before. Over a period of 10 days, the Daily Dot will profile people who’ve fueled this unprecedented growth, from top players to industry visionaries.
In earlier pieces, we looked at Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, the 20-year-old StarCraft 2 phenom from Canada, and Rod “Slasher” Breslau, the hardest-working journalist in eSports news. Today, we’re meeting Cosmo Wright, the fastest gamer on the planet.
Over 100,000 people follow Cosmo Wright’s Twitch channel, making him one of the most popular eSports streamers on the planet.
But there’s a catch. Wright’s competition for that crown are players in games like League of Legends and StarCraft 2, blockbuster titles with millions of dollars in game design, tournament prizes, salaries, marketing, and more, fueling their success as eSports.
On the other hand, Wright’s signature game is Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a 1997 Nintendo 64 title that wasn’t exactly designed for competitive play. Cosmo speed runs it daily anyway, striving for world record after world record in front of his massive audiences.
Speed running has been a competitive subculture for decades. In the past couple of years, it’s really begun to explode in popularity. In the last three years, the genre’s marquee event, “Awesome Games Done Quick,” has raised over $1 million for charity while building an audience of hundreds of thousands of fans.
The biggest star of that event, and of speed running as a whole, is undoubtedly Wright.
As a player, his talent in picking apart every pixel in Zelda, Castlevania, and Mario games would earn him a spot in a competitive gaming hall of fame. Though it’s worth noting that, at present, he doesn’t currently own a Zelda world record right now–despite it being his signature game. Two weeks ago, a rival beat Wright’s top time. However, Cosmo has set over a dozen world records this year across about half a dozen titles.
As an entertainer, Wright’s ability to not only perform well under pressure but to simultaneously communicate the subtlety of every move he makes is unmatched. It might be difficult for other players to gain a following when they’re beating the same single player game again and again. Cosmo has the ability to turn every run into a story that fans can’t turn away from.
His legendary Ocarina of Time run from Awesome Games Done Quick in January 2013 has almost a million views on YouTube and has turned an entire new generation to the art of the speed run.
If that was it, it might be enough.
Wright is also the co-founder of Speed Runs Live, a well-designed website that serves as the central hub for speed running’s explosion in popularity. He’s united a previously divided community across hundreds of titles into one website. Better yet, he’s dedicated to making the website and community better with up-to-date record keeping that will be an incredibly important step in bringing world class speed running to a bigger audience.