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These Are The Youngest Players In Esports History

Pro gaming has become a more widely recognized profession within the last several years, and for good reason. The industry has experienced a rise in new streaming platforms, with companies like Mixer attempting to compete with Twitch (and occasionally snagging some of its biggest talent). Professional gaming tournaments are also providing massive payouts and treating their participants like athletes. With money and prestige up for grabs, it should come as no surprise that younger players are entering the pro gaming scene.


The following pros are some of the youngest esports gamers to rise to prominence in their field. Some of them have a bit of controversy attached to their names, but they all have one thing in common: they got started much earlier than their peers. When and where did they get their big breaks and what are their careers like now? Take a look.

Lil Poison

While plenty of youths have blazed a trail on the professional gaming scene, Victor De Leon III, a.k.a "Lil Poison," might be the most famous young pro in the history of esports. In fact, he still holds the Guinness World Record for the youngest professional gamer in history. He entered his first Halo tournament at the age of four and quickly proved to be a match for just about any challenger who came his way. 


When he was only seven years old, Lil Poison became the youngest pro gamer ever when he signed an exclusive contract with Major League Gaming. He also became the subject of a documentary film about his life and career, which premiered at the New York International Latino Film Festival. Now in his 20s, Lil Poison continues to play professionally and is currently signed with Mantra Esports. Judging by his Twitter account, he seems to have mostly traded in Halo for Fortnite.


Mongraal is a pro Fortnite player, Twitch streamer, and YouTuber. He was only 13 when he became a Twitch partner and was signed to Team Secret in 2018. After about a year, Mongraal signed with FaZe Clan, where he remains playing professionally to this day. None of this was accomplished through sheer luck. According to Mongraal himself, he sometimes trains on his games of choice for up to 12 hours a day.


In late 2019, Mongraal was accused of cheating during a competition. Some of Mongraal's fellow players have alleged that he participates in "stream sniping," or following other players' live streams in an attempt to sneak up on them and take them out in matches. He has also been accused of receiving outside assistance from other people watching his own live streams. This has sparked quite a debate on Reddit, where some have argued that there's simply no proof that Mongraal was cheating at all.


Benedict Ward, better known as MrKcool, began competing professionally in esports tournaments at the age of 13. The UK-based player's game of choice at the time was multiplayer arena mobile game Vainglory. Though his career only lasted a few short years, MrKcool managed to stay true to his handle. When asked by eSports News UK whether or not the ages of the other players intimidated him, he responded that he never really let it get to him all that much.


"During the game, it's not really on my mind ... When I first arrived here in London, seeing all of them and them being much taller than me and stuff, it was quite intimidating," explained Ward at the time. "But I think I'm pretty comfortable with it all, because most of the players that do play are older than me, and all the teams I've been in have adults in them too. In terms of the game, age doesn't matter – it's just how well you play."


Fortnite streamer H1ghSky1 might be one of the more controversial gamers on this list, simply because of his age. This FaZe Clan member had his Twitch channel suspended when it was revealed that he and FaZe Clan had lied about his age. At 12-years-old, H1ghSky1 was too young, violating Twitch's age limit of 13 years or older.


Shortly thereafter, he began streaming on his YouTube channel, which permits content creators in his age range. In a stream supervised by his mother, H1ghSky1 told his followers that he'd actually signed to FaZe Clan at the age of 11 so that he could follow his passion, though he regretted the deception.

As H1ghSky1 explained, "I only lied so that I could fulfill my dream of being a streamer ... I'm sorry. I had to lie. I was too young, and it held me back. I just couldn't wait two more years."


Hailing from South Korea, Cho Seong-ju is a StarCraft 2 player who goes by the name of Maru. He made his professional debut at the very first Global StarCraft 2 League tournament in 2010. He was 13 at the time of his first televised match, making him the youngest GSL player of all time. In the ten years since his debut, Maru has seemingly lost none of the drive that put him on the map.


Maru has stuck to the Terran character class and has been recognized as one of the best Terran players in the game. Maru was also notably the first player to ever win four GSLs in a row, dominating throughout the 2018 seasons and the first GSL season of 2019. He has also spent the majority of his professional StarCraft 2 career signed to the team Jin Air Green Wings, an alliance that began in 2013.


"ScottGandhi" was the screen name of Scott Lussier, a former competitive Halo and Smite player. He began playing Halo competitively in 2002 when he was only 13-years-old, joining the pro team Carbon from 2006-2008. During his years in the scene, Lussier became somewhat infamous for his over the top trash talking during matches. 


After leaving Carbon, Lussier mostly retired in 2009 and became an esports commentator instead. As a commentator, he has casted tournaments for games like Halo, Smite, and Call of Duty. He currently works as a designer for Hi-Rez Studio, the company behind Smite. He was credited as the Lead Game Designer on Hi-Rez Studio's hero shooter Rogue Company.

Despite being out of the competitive scene, ScottGandhi's influence can still be felt in competitive Halo to this day. A maneuver in which characters hip-fire while crouching in midair has been named after him: it's known to Halo players as the "Gandhi Hop."


Much like Mongraal, Ludwig "zai" Wåhlberg was signed by Team Secret at a relatively young age. Though he joined Team Secret in 2015, he actually began his competitive gaming career in 2012 when he was only 14. Zai is best known for playing Dota 2 these days, but he got his start in esports by whipping the competition in Heroes of Newerth. He quickly caught the attention of several different esports teams, leading to him hopping around with different groups over the years. 


Zai took about a year off from Dota 2 so he could complete his studies, but he returned to the game in 2016, playing for pro team Kaipi. According to his Twitter account, he's currently signed to Team Secret yet again. It seems like it's hard to keep him in one place. Still, he seems to be well-liked by his teammates, considering his profile on the Team Secret website says he has "The best stream music and the best hair in the scene."


Lee "Flash" Young Ho has long been one of the biggest names in the Starcraft competitive scene. He played his first televised esports matches when he was only 14-years-old. Since then, he has secured his spot as a legend among Starcraft players.


Due to the fact his former team, KT Rolster, would often to send him out as the last player during major tournaments, Flash has also been referred to as "Final Boss" and "Ultimate Weapon." He was basically the last line of defense if his team was having a rough game. His skills usually managed to secure a victory, hence the nicknames. He's also been referred to by another nickname: the much simpler and less gaming-specific "God."

In 2019, when he was called upon to serve in the South Korean military at the age of 27, Flash finally retired from competitive Starcraft. Despite this, you likely haven't seen the last of the Final Boss.


In the world of competitive Super Smash Bros., and particularly for players of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there may not be a more respected player than Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez. He was basically a natural at the fighting series right out of the gate, winning his first Super Smash Bros. tournament at the age of 8. It wasn't until he won Mexico's Smash Master 4 tournament at 15 that Smash players all over the world began to take notice of MkLeo's skills. 


MkLeo made his U.S. Super Smash Bros. tournament debut in 2016 and was signed shortly thereafter to play on the roster of Echo Fox. Though Echo Fox folded a few years later, MkLeo wasn't without a team for long. In early 2020, MkLeo was signed to T1. When MkLeo's new contract was announced, T1 CEO Joe Marsh proudly referred to MkLeo as "one of the greatest of all time."


Lee "Life" Seung Hyun is a Starcraft legend who sadly went on to be a very polarizing figure later in his career. He joined team ZeNEX at the age of 14 and soon rose to prominence in the competitive scene as the youngest player signed to a South Korean team. Within just a few short years, he became one of the most respected players in the history of Starcraft 2


Unfortunately, this all came crashing down when he was arrested on charges of fixing matches. According to ESPN, Life was eventually convicted of fixing at least two matches, pocketing 70,000,000 Won (about $62,000 USD at the time). Following his court case, Life was permanently banned from all Korean esports events. Life was also sentenced to an 18-month prison sentence and forced to pay a hefty fine. All in all, it was an unfortunate end to the career of one of the biggest names in esports.