Nineteen-year-old Patrick Price is captain of one of best Call of Duty teams in the world — and he lives in Lee County.
The Southern Lee High School 2012 graduate has been playing video games his whole life and was named an international pro gamer in recent years. He's played in 16 major tournaments since 2010 and, starting next week, he travels to London, Paris, Los Angeles, Orlando, Fla., and Anaheim, Calif., for various Major League Gaming (MLG) tournaments, including some with prizes reaching $75,000.
The son of BJ and Lisa Price, Price, who goes by "Aches" online, said he's had a longtime passion for video games.
"I've always had an interest in video games coming from my older brother who had the system before me," Price said. "I've had almost every (gaming) system from Sega, Game Boy up until GameCube, PlayStation, Xbox and every generation going up."
Price said he's always been a competitive person but his interest in competitive gaming began in middle school when Halo 2 was released in 2004.
"From there I learned about MLG," Price said. "And learned about the behind the scenes and how things worked. From there I picked up Call of Duty 4, and that's where I started my start to pro gaming."
Price said he's a fan of almost every shooter game, a sub-genre of action-based video games, including Halo, Counter-Strike and Battlefield, but Call of Duty, which includes more than 10 titles in the series, has been one of his favorites.
Price is the captain of his four-man team, compLexity, and he met his teammates — Tyler "TeePee" Polchow, Ian Porter and Clay Eubanks —online.
"It wasn't about money, at all," Price said. "Back then the prizes are way lower than they are now. And I guess that is what got TeePee and me where we are now. Coming from being underdogs to being the best."
Polchow and Price have played on the same team for more than two years and become close online friends, Price said.
The prizes from the various tournaments are split between the four teammates, and Price said he's made close to $75,000 to $80,000 before taxes.
His father joked about the time when a FedEx delivery person shipped a $15,000 check to their neighbor. BJ said their neighbor kindly returned it without ever knowing what was inside.
BJ said they had questions when Price first approached him and his wife about purchasing an Xbox Live account, a feature to play others via the Internet. The next thing they knew, he said, Price had qualified for nationals, formed a team and they were traveling to Dallas for the Major League Gaming Nationals in 2010.
Price entered his pro status while still in high school and said it was easy to balance school work with playing but not as easy to catch up on his missed sleep.
"It was 2011 when it really started to pick up and the more you played, the better you were. It effected me in high school with sleep and I had to show up big on my tests."
Price just finished his first semester at Cape Fear Community College and said he saw a noticeable difference trying to balance playing in high school while trying to compete in college. With five tournaments in the next two months, Price and his teammates, who attend various schools across the country, took a semester off.
"I will keep gaming as long as I see it as profitable chance that I am not going to be wasting my time and money," Price said. "I am going to go back to school as soon as I am able to go back."
With nearly 52,000 followers on Twitter, a micro-blogging social media site, and more than a million views on Twitch, a website that allows users to watch Price play online, Price said he's had people approach him while at school in Wilmington who knew him from the game.
"It's weird at first when someone calls you Aches to your face," Price said. "But it has gotten easier to deal with."
Price leaves for the Gfinity 2 tournament in London at the end of this week.