tom_taylor.jpg Tom “Tsquared” Taylor is one of the brightest stars of Major League Gaming. He’s currently aged just 18, and is already on a three year, $83,300 per year contract with the MLG – and that’s before prizes. In his most recent season with the league, Tsquared made a cool $250,000.

In 2005, he started Gaming-Lessons, a site dedicated to training those interested in improving their Halo 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee skills. Taking the lessons are such MLG luminaries as Alfonso "Fonzi" Chartier, and 7 year old Victor "LiL Poison" De Leon III, amongst others. So far, Tsquared estimates that over 1,000 students have received lessons, which range from 15 minute one on one sessions, right up to one hour scrimmages against the best teams that MLG has to offer.

GameSetWatch contacted Tsquared via email to find out more about the site.

When did you start Gaming-Lessons?

Gaming-Lessons started in September of 2005 so it is almost 1 year old. Sundance DiGiovanni, co-founder of MLG, and I came up with the idea of Gaming-Lessons during a conversation on how to generate more competitive gamers and open up new windows and opportunities for casual gamers looking to go pro. The Gaming-Lessons website has gone through 3 versions and we are currently working on Gaming-Lessons v4 with tons more features to add.

How difficult is it to become a professional gamer?

Very difficult, it took 4 years to get where I am at now. Hopefully I can pass on a load of tips and tricks so the student can skip the 4 year process that I had to go through to make it in professional gaming.

Why is a service like this necessary?

Lessons for a video game are just like any other lesson. If you want to improve in something where lessons are offered, for example, golfing, surfing, or snowboarding, then you would jump on the chance to do so. The only difference is we have the best instructors and professional gamers in the world brought into 1 website.

What kinds of people receive lessons?

There has been much diversity amongst our customers. We have given lessons to girls and guys alike from NBA Star Richard Jefferson, 48 year old business men, a 30 year old Psychologist mother of 2, college students, and teenagers still in high school. It really shows the interest and reach of pro gaming.

What sort of people do you employ as instructors?

Only the best professional gamers in the world give lessons at Gaming-Lessons. We have 10 instructors, currently adding more to fit the demand of lessons, who aren't only the top gamers in the world but the best instructors.

How easy is it to run a service like this as a viable business?

Back when the site first started it was very difficult running it all by myself. As the website grew I started to bring in more money, which allowed me to hire staff members to take a little bit of the work load off my shoulders. We have been going strong for about a year now but it is everything but easy.

How do the lessons work?

I actually am working on a new system right now for lessons to be purchased. The way it will work is you will purchase a lesson off of www.gaming-lessons.com, after you have paid for the lesson the site will take you straight to a information sheet that asks you about your gaming history (this helps your instructor understand where you are at skill wise). After that it takes you to a calendar of dates that are available for your instructor that you purchased the lesson from, once you select your date you hop on Xbox Live and your instructor will be there waiting for you with a smile.

Why are you offering lessons for Super Smash Bros. Melee, as well as Halo 2?

Whatever games are the premiere games for the MLG circuit are the games we will give lessons for. MLG has been the leader in pro gaming for years now. They have been able to identify the most competitive and fair games, and have built strong communities around them. They are also the leader in taking pro gaming mainstream (with their TV show debuting on the USA Network this fall), which can open up more opportunities in the future.

Will you be branching out into other games in the future too?

If or when MLG changes games from Halo 2 to another or SSBM then Gaming-Lessons will also.

The site seems to depend a lot on community - do you think the competitive gaming scene is the same?

I try to offer a common ground for people who are looking to go to tournaments or meet new people who share the same passion of gaming that they do. Gaming-Lessons is everything I envisioned in the first place and more.