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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 01 September 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER 2018 7 NEWS Australia’s best up-and-coming drummer is Greek Athanasios Lichoudaris wins coveted top spot Hundreds of thousands of people are filling up stadiums to watch other people play a video game. PHOTO: AAP/ESL GAMING Esports: the next ‘big thing’ taking Australia by storm With the Melbourne Esports Open taking place this weekend, Neos Kosmos speaks with one of the E-League’s top competitors, Peter Saisanas about the rapid rise of this global phenomenon ALEX ANYFANTIS There are those who enjoy playing video games, and there are those who like to watch other people play. Thanks to the continuous advancements in technology, the latter group has been growing, video games being the entertainment industry sub-sector exreriencing a tremendous growth rate in the past few years. People are now willing to subscribe to services like Twitch, simply to be able to observe others play games such as Overwatch, Fortnight, League of Legends and FIFA that require great skill from players to stand out. And that's where the term "competitive gaming" comes in to play. This sudden rise in interest has not gone unnoticed, as a lot of companies have begun to invest within this field, going so far as to host events, sponsor players or teams and offer hundreds of thousands of dollars either in cash orprizes, and sometimes even scholarships, to the winners. A good example of this is Greek Australian Peter Saisanas who saw his life change from one moment to the next. Peter was on the world leader boards of the popular soccer game FIFA when he began to be noticed. "In 2015 there was a competition for a sports brand and I represented South Melbourne," he tells Neos Kosmos. "I represented the club, finished in the top eight and won $5,000." In signing with South Melbourne, Saisanas became the first professional FIFA Esports player in Australia to accomplish such a feat. He has since participated in the FIFA Interactive World Cup qualifiers in Doha and the World Finals in Sydney where he finished in the top eight of the competition, winning $8,000. Last year, Peter was approached by the Football Federation of Australia in order to take part in the inaugural E-League season. "The E-League came along and they didn't accept any foreign players from any other organisation. So South Melbourne released me and Perth Glory contacted me. They actually found me through a common connection, the exSouth Melbourne CEO, Peter Filopoulos." After having experienced this, and going on to become a representative of well-respected football clubs, what is Saisanas' opinion regarding Esports? Could it become an actual career path for people to follow? "It's definitely a thing and it's not meant to be taken as a joke anymore, because I guess a lot of the older generation see it as people locked in their rooms playing video games," he says. "But when you read into it and you find out more, you see that the developers are putting so much money into games and the player base is hundreds of millions of people and it doesn't discriminate. The player can be of any gender, of any race, of any size, of any height and you can still dominate the game that you're playing. It makes sense that it's rising because it's for everyone and I think it will probably become, not as big as football, but the second highest sport based on viewership within the next couple of years." Saisanas will be at the Melbourne Esports Open that takes place this weekend at Olympic Park along with most other top players in the city, willing to take on competitors who think they've got what it takes to test their mettle against one of the world's top rated FIFA players. NIKOS FOTAKIS Athanasios Lichoudaris was 15 years old when he first sat on the drum kit, replacing the drummer of his heavy metal band. "I was actually the singer," he remembers, "and I instantly fell in love with the drums." Twelve years later, he is the winner of Australia's Best Up & Coming Drummer Competition. Held by DrumTek, a centre for drums and percussion, that includes a music school, a retail shop and publishes a magazine, the competition is aiming to showcase drumming talent in Australia, giving winners the opportunity for a good head-start, or boost in their career, along with a series of prizes and much coveted endorsements. "It's been a dream of mine since I was very young," Athanasios says. "I wanted to take part [in] this competition every year, but I never really put in the time to do it, I was always saying that I'd do it next year. Then, about a year and a half ago, I decided that I needed to do this, or I might regret it when I'm older. So I started practicing hard, about 2-3 hours every night, ever since." This recent victory is hardly the first drumming achievement for the 27-year-old, who states Australian legend Virgil Donati and his coeval Matt Garstka, among his influences. Two years after his Peter Saisanas representing South Melbourne PHOTO: SUPPLIED Peter Saisanas during the E-League’s first season PHOTO: SUPPLIED first foray into drumming, he won the title of 'Australia's fastest drummer'. After that, his course was set. He went on to study Music Performance at the Melbourne Polytechnic and the Victorian College of the Arts, followed by a Masters Degree in Music Education at Melbourne University. He now works as a fulltime music teacher, but he's also the drummer at the LifeHouse church in Westmeadows. Anyone who wants to see him perform, might need to pay a visit to the church, or wait for the next Ultimate Drummer's weekend, organised by DrumTek, where Athanasios is set to perform, this being one of the prizes included in the competition. "I'm going to be preparing for that to put on a good show," he says, adding that he will not be resting on his laurels anytime soon. "I'm always trying to push boundaries of my own playing," he says. "Just because I won a competition doesn't mean that I'm not trying to get better and go to the next level." Apart from being Australia's Best Up-and-Coming Drummer, Athanasios is a proud Greek Australian. "I like to carry the name of my grandfather, instead of an English version," he says. "I'm proud of my heritage; my family is Pontian, we love a good dance."
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