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Americans win video game gold medal
Updated: 2004-10-11 09:58

Amid fanfare fit for actual world-class athletes, five Americans with really quick fingers took home the gold medal Sunday in the popular "Counter Strike" competition of the World Cyber Games championships, capping five days of intense gaming by the world's elite.

Team Netherlands celebrate winning the Grand Champion award, an award for most gold medals won out of eight categories, at the World Cyber Games (WCG) 2004 in San Francisco, California, October 10, 2004. Team Netherlands won three gold medals. The WCG is the world's largest computer and video game festival with the top gamers from 62 countries competing for over $400,000 in prizes. [AP Photo]

Team3D defeated the Titans of Denmark in the counterterrorism-themed PC game, where operatives stake out ramshackle buildings with high-powered sniper rifles and other weapons to take out their foes.

Team3D consists of "team master" Salvatore Garozzo, Johnny Quach, Dave Geffon, Ronald Kim and Kyle Miller. The squad also took home US$50,000 for their video game prowess.

If they plan to pop a bottle of celebratory champagne, only Geffon is old enough to take a legal sip; his teammates are all under 21.

The event's organizers said the final match was watched by an enthusiastic crowd, affirming what others in Europe and Asia have known for years: top-tier video game playing can become a viable spectator sport when the stakes are high.

Winners at this year's event, which took over the streets near city hall, took home a combined US$400,000, according to organizers.

The video game industry rakes in US$10 billion annually in the United States alone.

The competition had its share of upsets, for those who knew who the favorites were. The Netherlands' Manuel "4KGrubby" Schenkhuizen upset Hwang Tae-Min of Korea in "WarCraft III: Frozen Throne," bumping up the Dutch gold medal count to four.

In "WarCraft III," a real-time strategy game, players find themselves in the futuristic war-torn world of Azeroth, fighting on behalf of the so-called Human Alliance to save the world.

This was the first time in its four-year history that the World Cyber Games has been held outside of Korea. The event is primarily the brainchild of marketing whiz Hank Jeong, backed by the financial muscle of Samsung.

In addition to "Counter Strike: Condition Zero" and "WarCraft III: Frozen Throne," players competed in "FIFA Soccer 2004," "Need For Speed: Underground," "StarCraft: Brood War," "Unreal Tournament: 2004," "Halo" and "Project Gotham Racing 2."

All of the games were played on PCs, except "Halo" and "Project Gotham Racing 2," which were played on Microsoft's Xbox.

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