Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana built his reputation in the gaming community playing the online game League of Legends and, even though he retired from the pro-gaming scene in 2014, 1.6 million people still follow him on game streaming service Twitch. In the age of Internet influencers, his reputation banks him $2 million a year – and that’s before you factor in any sponsorship money. So how did the 25-year-old from Silver Spring, Maryland get started on this path?
“I was basically like Shrek growing up in the swamp, and I didn’t have any money or anything, so I wanted a free-to-play game,” he tells Glixel. He started playing League of Legends, and after a few months of non-stop play, he’d gotten so good that his friends asked if he wanted to compete in a local tournament with them. The team made the finals, Santana got noticed by better players in the scene like Li, and the rest is history. At the time, none of this was part of some intricate five-year plan. “I didn’t really look towards the future. It was just like, damn, I’m really good at this,” he says. “I guess I can just fuck around and play a couple games, see what happens.”
He joined the esports team Dignitas in 2011, moving to Southern California, home of Riot Games and League of Legends‘ North American League Championship Series. He retired from that life just a few years later, in 2014.
“Sometimes I wish that I could play in the LCS and play some competitive games… I miss that a lot,” he says. “Who knows. Maybe one day, I’ll try to return to it, but for the foreseeable future, I don’t see it happening.”
To find out more about his career and why he left it behind read the full interview on Glixel.
By Rachel Weber
Courtesy of Rolling Stone