Intel Extreme Masters contest hands out big money

There's no denying that gaming can be a fantastic waste of time, but for a select few it's a profitable career - as demonstrated by the Intel Extreme Masters V World Championship, which has seen some epic prizes handed out.

In its fifth year, the Intel Extreme Masters contest pits pro gamers in a variety of disciplines - including on-line role playing games, real-time strategy games, and first-person shooters - against each other to win a share of a $413,500.

Concluded at CeBIT, this year's competition saw gamers playing Counter-Strike 1.6, Quake Live, Starcraft 2, and League of Legends - and the winners made some serious money out of their twitch-reflex talents.

Natus Vincere, from the Ukraine, walked away with $35,000 for winning the Counter-Strike tournament - and second place team Frag eXecutors from Poland managed $17,000, leaving team mTw from Denmark to pick up the remaining $8,500.

While the prizes for Quake Live, id Software's rebirth of its classic first-person shooter Quake III Arena, were less impressive, the winner Shane 'rapha' Hendrixson from the US still managed to pocket $8,500 while second-place Anton 'Cooller' Singov from Russia went home $4,000 richer. Third-place contestant Kevin 'Stenx' Baeza, from France, got $2,500 as a consolation prize.

In the real-time strategy category, Starcraft 2 champion Wu-Seo 'Ace' Jung scored $13,000, while second place competitor Jae-Ho 'Moon' Jang got $6,500 for his efforts. Runner-up Hyun-Woo 'Squirtle' Park managed to take home $4,000 for third place. Reaffirming a long-held stereotype, all the winners hailed from South Korea.

The League of Legends Invitational Tournament saw team myRevenge of Germany get the grand prize of $4,750, while additional prizes of $2,750, $2,250, and $1,750 were handed out to France's Against All Authority and international teams SK-Gaming and Dignitas.

The streaming video service ESL TV broadcast the conclusion from CeBIT, earning itself around 2,150,000 viewers for the final day's events - proving that there are those content to sit at home and watch gamers do their stuff on TV.

While not every gamer can reach the dizzy heights attained by the winners of the Intel Extreme Masters champions, there's one thing that's abundantly clear: for those with the skill, it's a nice way to earn a living.