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Video games bring big payoff for info tech student

Micah Ernst
Micah Ernst, fourth-year information technology student, second from left, holds his big check.

Micah Ernst, a fourth-year information technology student, returned to classes this fall with 100,000 reasons to smile. Ernst won $100,000 over the summer playing in an online gaming competition, the Verizon FIOS Grand Tournament. The 23-year old native of Meadville, Pa., beat out 6,000 registrants to net one of the largest prizes ever awarded for an online video game tournament.

Ernst won three rounds in a 64-player bracket to secure one of eight spots in the live final competition held in Hermosa Beach, Calif., July 28-29. The finalists played Half Life 2: Deathmatch, where contestants use weapons to kill off their opponents and rack up points.

“It was part way through the second map of the final round that I knew I had secured the win,” says Ernst. “The score was in my favor by seven or eight points and with the amount of time left, I knew I had won.”

He first called his girlfriend and then his parents to share his big news. “My girlfriend was screaming into the phone. She was more excited than I was. I had been concentrating on the competition and tried not to focus on the prize money,” Ernst says. “Of course, my parents are pretty happy all my game playing has paid off.”
Ernst has splurged on a new television with part of his winnings.

“I bought a new TV, the biggest one I could fit into my apartment,” Ernst says. “I’ll pay off some school loans and save the rest.”

So what’s next for the RIT student who’s got game? “I’ll probably look for a job doing some sort of Web design,” says Ernst. “I’m not overly concerned about it right now.”