Imagine if you could make enough money
playing Call of Duty to quit work and live off your killstreaks...
An elite band of players do just that, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. We chat to the highest earning player, 20-year-old Matthew Haag, more commonly known as NaDeSHoT, to find out how he does it. Prepare to be jealous...
Hello NaDeSHoT. What's with that name?
People ask me that a lot. To be honest with you, there really isn't any meaning behind my name. I saw somebody with it about six years ago, stole his name, and ran with it, haha. It's kind of a dirty little secret.
Have you always been a gamer?
I really have always been a gamer. When I think about it, there was never a time when I wasn't fascinated by it all. In all honesty though, the games that really hooked me were the Pokemon series for the original Gameboy - Red and Blue. My brother and I would spend all day playing together. I really have some good memories of that.
Were you always good?
My brother always used to kick my ass, plain and simple. He was better then me at every single game. He was my big brother though, so I always looked up to him and it drove me to practice and try and beat him. It sounds corny, I know, but it's true.
Eventually though, when Halo 2 came out,
my brother got swept up in high school and didn't game much. I really think
that's where it all began for me, because I was never a social butterfly or
anything. I enjoyed staying at home and playing video games; a typical nerd, I
guess. I would spend eight hours a day, maybe even more, trying to get better, because I've always been ridiculously competitive and hated losing.
I was never really a natural talent. A lot of people look at me and assume I'm just really good at shooting genre video games, but they don't see the amount of time I put into it for the past eight years.
When did you get into Call of Duty?
Back when I was a freshman in high school, my friend convinced me to pick up Call of Duty 4 for the Xbox 360. I was apprehensive because I was a diehard Halo 2/3 gamer. When I finally got the game though, all of my friends were better then me, so I guess it's the same story as with my brother: people were better than me, I couldn't stand it, so I practiced. Hours upon hours, days upon days, and years upon years were spent progressing myself as a top player.
When did you think "I could make money from this"?
I knew there was money to be won because of the Major League Gaming (MLG) pro circuit that hosted Halo events. They would have Halo tournaments with prize money that topped hundreds of thousands of dollars. That really did it for me because there are two things you should know about me: I'm super-competitive and I love money.
My Grandpa would always tell me stories about growing up in downtown Chicago (Bridgeport) and how he had to hustle to make his money. I like to think that competitive gaming has always been my modern day hustle, just trying to make my family proud with my success.
Is your income all from prize money?
Right now, I sustain myself through sponsorships and media production. A lot of people think I just sit at home and play video games, which, although true to an extent, really doesn't tell the whole story.
few hours a day are spent producing video content to upload to my YouTube
channel, where I receive revenue through the ads that run on each video.
Then I'll spend the rest of my day live streaming, where I again receive revenue from
At the end of the day, I've probably clocked in 8-10 hours of production of gameplay. It can be pretty tough at times, but I really love what I do.
What's the most you've ever won?
The most my team has ever won was $400,000. We took home $100k each at the end of the weekend. That is probably my biggest accomplishment of my entire career. Events like those are once in a lifetime though, and right now they don't have anymore planned that I know of.
I believe I'm the highest earning competitive Call of Duty player, but that isn't solely from tournament winnings. I'm trying my hardest to make this my full time job, so I have to spend all my time trying to produce income for my lifestyle. Other pro players that play popular PC games such as Starcraft or League of Legends have more opportunity to make money and can make over six figures a year. Unfortunately, Call of Duty players don't have opportunities to make money like that yet, but we have our fingers crossed!
What's your team?
I'm part of OpTic gaming, which is owned and led by OpTic H3CZ. I kind of see him as my mentor because he's had much success with gaming and provides for his entire family with income generated solely from video games. He's built an empire that is OpTic Gaming. He has always had my back since I joined his team two and a half years ago, and I'm truly appreciative of the opportunity that I've had to be apart of the organization.
Right now, I have my own competitive team under the OpTic name, and I also contribute to the main YouTube channel that we have for OpTic Gaming.
What does it take to be one of the world's best players?
Really, just like anything, practice makes perfect. I've put forth all my effort for the past four years to be the best player I could possibly be. For the most part, people can do almost anything if they practice enough.
How do you practice - just playing?
The only specific thing that most teams do is play with each other. Competitive gaming teams are all about chemistry. If you aren't on the same page as your three teammates, you won't find success. That is why all pro teams try and play with each other as much as possible.
At times, in between tournaments, it can get a bit boring.
I've been doing this for so long that there really isn't anything that I
haven't experienced or gone up against. When I first started, I was motivated
to try and become better than everyone else. Now that I'm on a pro team and
have won quite a few tournaments, it's hard to recreate the same motivation.
Either way though, when I start to get bored, I just focus on the idea of success and I snap back into it. I'm one of the most competitive players you'll come across, so that drive and motivation to win will never dissipate.
What do you do when you're not playing Call of Duty?
I've pretty much emerged myself in what I do. My entire life revolves around gaming and social media, but, when I have spare time, you'll see me at the gym lifting and hanging out with my girlfriend.
When a new Call of Duty title drops, I completely go into grind mode and put all my time and effort into it. One of my specialties is the ability to learn a game much quicker then other players. A lot of my tournament wins occur towards the first couple months of the games release because I adapt a little better then other players.
Any final tips for someone wanting to turn pro?
Practice, practice, practice. Everyone has to start sometime, so don't lose motivation! Go out there everyday and kill it!