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Connor Pummill, World of Warcraft master

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Connor Pummill, World of Warcraft master

Dylan Schwartz, Design Editor

Many readers may not know him, but Connor Pummill ‘18 has developed a prolific World of Warcraft (WoW) career.
Starting in 2011 when Pummill was in 5th grade, he wasn’t always at the level he is now. “I was really bad until my freshman year,” Pummill recalls. “I started being in the top one percent of players, then my sophomore year I was in the top .1 percent.”

Pummill plays a variant of player versus player WoW in which three player teams compete against each other in matches. The winner climbs the ladder, and the loser falls. Pummill’s ranking in the top one percent and the top .1 percent of players means he and his team have been among the best players in the entire server, which encompasses the United States.

“Junior year, I was a pro, pretty much. Senior year, I still am.” Being recognized as a professional player within the community comes with benefits, according to Pummill. “Everyone worships you. I’m pretty well known.”
The competitive WoW scene stretches across the entire country, so the community has adjusted its “prime time” to accommodate different time zones. “Prime time is around 11pm to 2am. If you’re a top rated player, you won’t get games if you’re trying to play midday.”

Pummill has turned his supreme skill in WoW into an actual career during his later high school years. “I think I realized I could make money during junior year. I started putting more time into it and thinking about it a lot more during senior year.”

The job that Pummill does is peculiar, but it pays well. “People pay to play with me. They normally pay $60 an hour, and I play with someone else. We split it 50/50, so it’s $30 an hour.” Pummill essentially plays with lower level players who are looking to improve. He imparts his knowledge and gives them tips, which is known colloquially in the community as “coaching.”

“I tell them what they can do to get better. That’s coaching. It’s like coaching a sport, really.”

Pummill himself was never coached by anybody. “I got better by playing with bad (unskilled) people. I earned my teammates,” Pummill states. “People that want to skip that just pay pro players to play with them. They get better a lot quicker. Pro players do everything right, and they can catch mistakes really easily.”

The coaching system functions using competitive WoW websites, which essentially hired Pummill as a coach. He has the freedom to choose which contracts he wants to work, when his hours are, and how much he wants to get paid.
Pummill can use his expertise and ability to coach lower level players to make quite the profit if he coached full time. “At the least, (I’d make) about thirty grand a year, and at the most forty five grand a year,” Pummill says. “It’s a dream job.”

With his occupation relying on the popularity of WoW itself, Pummill’s job as a coach is subject to change, though he is unconcerned about the future, “WoW’s popularity is a staple, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon. People are always gonna play the game.” Pummill has long term plans involving coaching as a full time job, “Out of high school, I have the coolest job in the world, so I wanna do it as long as I can, and then after that, go to college.”
WoW is a 12 year old game, and the competitive scene has always been prominent. “It’s always been there,” Pummill says.

Pummill has aggregated countless accolades over his WoW career, most of which are known as “titles”, which are received for finishing a season of competitive WoW at a certain ranking on the ladder. “On my account, just one character alone is worth five grand,” Pummill boasts. Each WoW account is allowed to have multiple characters. Each character earns their titles individually. “My entire account is worth something like ten grand. On one character I have five rank ones. Rank one is when you end the season in the top .1 percent of players.”

Pummill’s setup is nothing short of impressive. With $200 headphones, a $500 monitor, a $120 keyboard, an $80 mouse, and a $1500 gaming PC, Pummill has cycled the money he’s made from coaching back into his passion.
Possibly the most impressive detail of Pummill’s WoW grind is the function of his mouse. On the left side of it, where his thumb rests, there are 14 buttons, each bound to a separate action within the game. By pressing certain keys on his keyboard, Pummill switches what each button set is. In total, his mouse has 42 actions bound to his mouse alone. He uses them all without effort.

Pummill’s eventual goal is to make it to Blizzcon, an annual WoW tournament held by Blizzard, the video game developer that created the game. By ending a season in a team that is collectively within the top four in the country, Pummill could be flown out to Anaheim, California, play against other teams of equal skill, and compete for the grand prize. In 2017, the WoW tournament prize pool was $280,000. Top rated players frequently play with developers themselves. “I’m friends with a lot of people at Blizzard,” Pummill said.

Pummill and his team have claimed victory against teams that have gone to Blizzcon multiple times in online tourney, so his goal is definitely within reach. “There’s a lot of money in it. That’s definitely one of my long term goals.”
Each time you see Connor Pummill walking through the hallways, you’re face to face with one of the best World of Warcraft players in the world.

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Connor Pummill, World of Warcraft master