Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, who currently is displayed on card number 3480, from the Superstars of 2020 Collection.  Johnathan is a former professional Esports player of games like Quake and PainKiller. At one time Johnathan was the #1 ranked player in the world. He founded Fatal1ty, Inc., which license the Fatal1ty brand to gaming accessory manufacturers. Johnathan has been featured on 60 minutes as well as publications like the New York Times and Forbes magazine. He was inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in August 2010 and holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Do you remember your first PC game you played and what do you remember about it?

Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Remember trying to fly to the moon with my dad but in 1985 that wasn’t built into the game yet, unfortunately…  Fun fact, this is how I became an inverted mouse player in the future.  Just felt natural to pull back/down to look up and vice versa.

Which gaming developers are your favorite and why?

ID Software has always been my OG.  Loved the games they made in the early days.  Epic another one, Unreal Tournament 2003(UT2K3) was an amazing game, and I loved the original flak cannon.  UT2K4 nerfed it which sucked.

What are your opinions about today’s generation of first-person shooters?  How do you compare them to older, classic ones?

The games today are made for the masses.  Games back in the early days of Esports was insanely skilled and allowed massive skill gaps.  I feel every game developer today is trying to make games to be a 50/50 experience.  It’s sad not to see more arena or fast paced games where skill is priority number one.

When did you first play the Quake III Arena game and what do you remember about it?

Day 1.  1999 Quake 3 Arena Test days.  Remember it just being a lot of fun like the original Quake.  I couldn’t get enough.

If you could only play one game on the PC, what would it be and why? 

Quake 3 Arena (version 1.17) – This version of the game was the best because there was floor damage and the game allowed for random spawn points.  The later versions started doing spawn furthest away from the opponent which made it slower, less fun and more grindy.

What does it take to be an Esports world champion and what advice do you have for the current generation.?

Being relentless and never giving up.  Reduce distractions and go for your goals.  This can be applied to almost anything, but do you have the passion to see it through and never give up till you achieve your goal.

For the current generation, always try to be a part of the beta or test versions of games before they hit the market and hit the ground running.  Practice, practice, practice.  It’s the only way!

Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?

I prefer playing games locally on LAN with 0ms ping.  That type of gaming only exists mainly at professional tournaments now, but I personally just love the original way we use to compete in Quake back in the day.  Nothing is better than playing games with your friends on LAN.

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card? 

I always aspired to be a professional athlete when I was a kid, so yes, I fantasized about it. Now today I’ve been featured on your guys trading card, Topps and Upper Deck!  It’s pretty nuts and I’m sure my dad is somewhat amazed as he used to own a baseball card shop.

When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?

I feel like we met first at a big tournament which might have been in Sweden.  But we have seen each other over the years and especially when Walter inducted me into the Esports Hall of Fame down in Ottumwa, Iowa.

If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?


What is your favorite first person shooter game of all time what makes that game appealing to you?

Quake 3 Arena was my game that I broke out in and showed the world I had some skills 😉

Are video games good for relieving stress?

Definitely!  I can’t count how many times I came home from school as a kid and getting to play video games totally relaxed me.  It was amazing, if I was upset or not feeling 100%, I would load up some Quake and instantly after an hour of playing I felt like I was on top of the world.  15-18 years old was a lot of fun for me because of Quake.

What is the next game you would like to compete with and why is that one a favorite?

I’m waiting to see the next game I’m going to dive deep into.  Currently I’m playing other games to keep my skills sharp, but when that game comes out you can bet on it I’ll be streaming it on twitch.tv/fatal1ty.

Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?

I don’t know…  I was never a massive fan of characters like that, but if I had to choose.  Doom guy!  That was my first time playing multiplayer player versus player in a first-person shooter!  DOOM!!!

What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘Esports’?

Competitive gaming from the best talent around the world.  I always saw Esports as the sport of the 21st century and getting a chance to show the world it’s possible to make a full time living from it was an absolute thrill.  Getting to travel to basically every continent and compete with the best players in the world was something I thrived in and couldn’t get enough.

What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?

Doom & Quake.  Scary, fun, exciting, skillful and it seems I always want more.

If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?

I would love to work with the Quake franchise and make a battle royale or the next game type that will excite all gamers across the world no matter what device they play on.  I want skill to be a top priority of the game.

What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?

I find myself playing Apex Legends lately because it has a lot of skill sets that are similar to Quake.  Fast and twitchy, but even in Apex, they tend to lean towards having that 50/50 experience with the latest updates.  Season 1 was the best!!!

Are you still involved with competitive gaming today, and what are your goals?

I play for entertainment on twitch.tv/fatal1ty and keep my skills sharp for the most part.  I’m not training for world championships these days, so I don’t need to put in those 50-60/hours a week to find every possible advantage I need to beat the best in the world.

Where do you see Esports in the next 10 years?

Becoming more mainstream in which events are easily discovered by the masses.  Today I feel events are still to their niche communities, my goal with my company ReadyUp (www.readyup.com)  is to change that and make gaming/events accessible to everyone and get them to know when and where these events are taking place so they can tune in and/or participate.

“Practice, practice, practice.” – Fatal1ty




This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.


Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (390 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.