Seeking the top prize of $70,000, video gamer Ryan Dunn is on his way to Las Vegas to face off against some of the best players in the world.
Dunn’s game of choice is NHL 13 on PlayStation 3 and this is his second trip to the EA Sports NHL Challenge, hosted by Virgin Gaming. Last year, the Red Deer man competed with the best in New York.
“This year, the competition might be a little harder because last year it was more North American-based for hockey, whereas this year I know there is going to be guys coming over from overseas for it,” said Dunn.
While last year Dunn was competing with NHL 12, he has taken quickly to the newest edition of the annual hockey video game.
He has mixed up the teams he plays this season. Last year he relied on either the Detroit Red Wings or Pittsburgh Penguins, but he has expanded his base and chooses from a pool of five teams — New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit or Pittsburgh — depending on what his opponent chooses.
Dunn qualified on Jan. 12 in the sixth round of competition and will face stiff competition at the final from 127 other players. “I’d like to make it to the top eight,” said Dunn. “I think it’s possible, I think I’m a little bit better this year than I was with NHL 12.”
Last year, Dunn made it into the top 32.
He works 12-hour days in Fort Mackay and tries to squeeze in an hour or two of practice after work every evening.
“It’s a different game altogether when you get there, compared to online,” said Dunn. “Don’t give the other guy too much respect because if you get nervous, it could cost you.”
He also said he has to try to block out all the distractions because it is a live event.
“If you can adjust to that, you can take advantage of it,” said Dunn.
Although he doesn’t like using the Edmonton Oilers in the game, they are his favourite team in real life. He was disappointed in the National Hockey League lockout, but felt it may have helped him practise his hockey video game skills.
“It put me to the video game a little more, to compensate for not having the real NHL to watch,” said Dunn.
While he works in Fort Mackay, the 30-year-old does come back to Red Deer when he has off time.
Portions of the event will be available through live streaming. See www.virgingaming.com for more information.