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7 June, 2022

Kyle climbs to gaming pinnacle

“Stop playing those games you will never make any money out of it” – these are the words every young gamer has heard at least once in their life. However one local gamer is proving that stigma wrong, earning thousands of dollars playing at the pinnacle of Australian Esports.

By Rhys Thomas

Mutchilba’s Kyle Muccignat spends him time on his family farm competing with some of the best Esports athletes in the country, playing in the country’s number one team for PUBG

TUCKED away on a family farm in Mutchilba, one of the country’s most skilled Esports professionals is on the warpath, his sights set firmly on the global stage and a million-dollar prize pool.

Kyle Muccignat picked up a gaming controller when he was two years old, now 15 years later, he competes at a national level in Esports for the best team in the country making thousands of dollars each competition.

Playing under the moniker “Mirage”, Kyle is one of four members of Team Bliss’s PUBG gaming team – a team-based battle royale game which has garnered global fame and millions of players worldwide. 

“It is pretty surreal but I have put a lot of hard work into it, it is not a fluke, it is not luck, it is a lot of hard work,” Kyle said. 

Esports has exploded onto the stage in recent years with million- dollar facilities dedicated to the training and nurturing of gaming talent popping up all over the world. 

The sport even has a bid to be included in the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games due to its rapid and substantial uptake. 

Esports competitions cover many different genres of games and are played between professional players either in teams or as individuals, some offering millions of dollars to the winners. 

Kyle recently returned from the PUBG Continental Series 6 in Brisbane, where Team Bliss placed fifth overall. 

“It is pretty surreal but I have put a lot of hard work into it, it is not a fluke, it is not luck, it is a lot of hard work”

Kyle has been playing competitively for around three years and said it wasn’t an immediate switch from hobby to professional gaming.

“It has been a steady grind, just getting better, improving yourself and finding some capable teammates,” he said.

“I was on one team for a while in 2021, we were not doing the best but not too bad either, pretty average.

“At the end of 2021, I left them and there were not many options in Australia at the time, so I looked over in America, which is hard because you have very high latency – it was difficult, but I still succeeded.”

Kyle joined an American team and played in a competition which offered some serious prizemoney, around $US 500,000, equating to just over $700,000 in Australian dollars.

After playing in America for a time, Kyle was contacted by Team Bliss and asked to fill a vacant spot in their team.

At the same time, one of Team Fury’s “in game leaders” (team captain) also transferred over to Team Bliss, consequently making them the new number one team in the country.

“It is the God squad of Australia at the moment,” Kyle said.

Kyle is currently on a salary of $300 to $400 per week with prizemoney from competitions added on top.

After the recent competition and taking fifth place, Kyle will be taking home between $6000 to $8000 in prizemoney.

Kyle has a distinctive difference compared to other gamers, he is missing one-and-a-half fingers on his right hand – his mouse hand – but said it had not inhibited his gaming skills.

“I think it is the way I hold the mouse, it is an interesting way and different to a lot of people,” he said.

“I am not sure if it has helped me exactly but it is certainly interesting.”

Growing up in a family with four brothers, Kyle’s upbringing was wrought with friendly competition and fierce brotherly rivalry which he said, helped develop his drive to win.

“I am just a competitive person in general, I played a lot of cricket, played AFL in Cairns, martial arts in Dimbulah, and most boys in their teenage years play video games so I was just doing the same thing,” he said.

“I wanted to be one of the best and I knew that if you were the best, you can make something out of it – I always believed in myself, I was not going to stop until I was the best.”

Kyle got into gaming as early as two years old, pictured here on the floor of the living room playing the early Playstation. (Photo Provided)

Kyle’s mother Karen, like many other parents, used to tell Kyle that gaming would not make him money and he should instead focus on his studies.

“I remember talking with Kyle during his senior year trying to keep him focused on his studies I said, ‘how many people game in the world’ to which he responded billions,” she said.

Karen then challenged Kyle to “do the math” and see how many of those billions of gamers, actually made a living out of gaming.

Defeated, Kyle conceded that he would have to continue studying until Covid forced him to put a hold on that, return home and continue his passion for gaming.

“Now he is currently proving me wrong and making a living as a pro gamer – I am thrilled for him and am his biggest supporter,” Karen said.

The next competition in Kyle’s sights is the PGC Global Championship, a global competition that puts the top 32 PUBG teams in the world against each other for a $2 million base prize pool. 

In addition to the base pool, winners also get access to rev share – a percentage of in-game sales which will be added on top of the $2 million prizemoney. 

Kyle’s story and career in E-sports shows that if you want to be the best, represent your state or country on the national or global stage, it takes a lot more than talent to get there.

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