Dennis Fong

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Dennis Fong
Thresh at QuakeCon 2016
Personal information
Born (1977-03-11) 11 March 1977 (age 47)
British Hong Kong
Career information
Playing career1995–1997

Dennis Fong (traditional Chinese: 方鏞欽; simplified Chinese: 方镛钦; pinyin: Fāng Yōngqīn; Jyutping: fong1 jung4 jam1), better known by his online alias Thresh, is an American businessman and retired professional player of the first-person shooter video games Quake and Doom. He is a co-founder of Xfire, an instant messenger and social networking site for gamers, which was acquired by Viacom for US$102 million in April 2006.[1][2] He also co-founded Lithium Technologies, a social customer relationship management (CRM) company. In his playing career his highest profile victory came in 1997 at the Red Annihilation Quake tournament, where he placed first and won id Software CEO John D. Carmack's Ferrari 328. Fong is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the first professional gamer.[3]

Playing career[edit]

Thresh (foreground) at a video game competition for a vendor at Comdex in 1997

Fong began playing Doom at the age of 16 in 1993. He first chose the pseudonym "Threshold of Pain", which referred to the ability to withstand enemy fire and suffering. However, as many games had an eight-character ID limit, he went with "Thresh" and liked the word's meaning of "to strike repeatedly".[4]

Thresh in the Ferrari he won. John Carmack stands to the right, and second-place finisher Entropy is in the background above Thresh.

Fong attended the Microsoft-sponsored Doom tournament Judgment Day 1995 in Seattle and defeated Ted "Merlock" Peterson to finish first among 24 competitors from across the US and United Kingdom.[4]

The highlight of his gaming career was at the Red Annihilation tournament in 1997. He and Tom "Entropy" Kimzey emerged from a crowded field to face off in the Quake level E1M2 "Castle of the Damned", where Thresh defeated Entropy 14 to -1.[5]

At the peak of his gaming career in the middle to late 1990s, he earned approximately $100,000 (~$176,334 in 2023) a year from prize money and endorsements.[6] He retired in 1997 to focus on his business ventures.

On July 27, 2016, Thresh was the second person to be inducted into the ESL Hall of Fame.[7] Fong has also been featured in Rolling Stone for his gaming prowess.[8]

Business ventures[edit]

Fong and his brother Lyle started GX Media,[when?] the parent company of, FiringSquad, and Lithium Technologies. Fong was the CEO of the company and Lyle was the chief technical officer. The company grew to 100 employees.

In 1999, GX Media raised over US$11 million from CMGI and built, a popular web portal.[9][10][11] Fong's Ferrari was parked in the lobby of the GX Media offices. In 2001, was acquired by Ziff-Davis.

While running GX Media, Fong was also editor-in-chief at the video gaming site FiringSquad, wrote a monthly column in the popular PC Gamer magazine and co-authored the official Quake II strategy guide with Jonathan Mendoza and Kenn Spear Hwang.[12]

GX Media spun off Lithium Technologies, a leading Social CRM platform provider that counts AT&T, PlayStation, Verizon, Comcast and Best Buy as some of its customers. The company has raised over $40 million from Benchmark Capital, Emergence Capital, Shasta Ventures, DAG Ventures and Tenaya Capital.

Fong went on to co-found Xfire, an instant messaging client designed for online gaming, that was acquired by Viacom in April 2006 for US$102 million.[1][2] In 2007, Fong founded Raptr, a social network and related software client for gamers. The company has raised over $12 million in financing from Accel Partners.

Fong serves as an adviser for Inc and previously served in the same capacity for the defunct Booyah, Inc.[13]

Playing style[edit]

In games, Fong is known for his reflexes, intuition and tactics. People coined the term "Thresh ESP" to describe his unnatural knack for knowing exactly what his opponents were doing. In 1 on 1 deathmatch, he made it a priority to understand the level and "control" vital items using timed runs to repeatedly hoard them from opponents, such as the rocket launcher and armor in Quake.[6][14]

Fong has been credited with popularizing the WASD key configuration commonly used in PC gaming.[15][16]

Personal life[edit]

Fong was born in Hong Kong on March 11, 1977[17] and lived in Beijing for a while.[18] His parents, David and Lena Fong, were educated in America and are US citizens.[18] He and his family emigrated to the United States when he was 11 years old, and he grew up in Los Altos, California.[2][11] His interests include playing roller hockey.[4] Fong has two younger brothers, Lyle and Bryant. Lyle helped him co-found GX Media. Thresh attended De Anza College in Cupertino, California, for a year in 1996–1997 before dropping out to focus on gaming.[6] He resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Entrepreneur Launches His Third Interactive Computer-Gaming Company. San Jose Mercury News. 01-SEP-03
  2. ^ a b c Kushner, David (2000-09-05). "The Michael Jordan of gaming". Archived from the original on 2007-06-24. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  3. ^ "First professional videogamer".
  4. ^ a b c Joseph, Lawrence E. (December 31, 1996). "Master Blaster". The Item. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  5. ^ Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 89. ISBN 0-375-50524-5.
  6. ^ a b c Leibovich, Mark (December 23, 1999). "King of the Gamers". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ "World's first pro-gamer Dennis "Thresh" Fong to receive Esports Hall of Fame spot at QuakeCon 2016".
  8. ^ Baker, Chris. "Meet Dennis 'Thresh' Fong, the Original Pro Gamer". Rolling Stone.
  9. ^ Thresh plays the portal game Marius Meland, Forbes, 11.12.99
  10. ^ Video Game Champ Creates Web Portal Kelly Zito, San Francisco Chronicle, December 15, 1999
  11. ^ a b Pitco, Belinda (March 12, 2000). "It's all a game for Dennis 'Thresh' Fong". San Francisco Business Journal. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  12. ^ Mendoza, Jonathan; Fong, Dennis "Thresh"; Hwang, Kenn "Spear" (November 1997). Official Quake II: Strategies & Secrets. Sybex Inc.
  13. ^ "Dennis Fong". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Thresh's Quake Bible – Multiplayer Strategies, Tactics, Tips and Hints for Quake".
  15. ^ "How WASD became the standard PC control scheme". pcgamer. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  16. ^ "Why gamers use WASD to move". Vox. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  17. ^ Rich, Mari (August 2012). "Dennis Fong". Current Biography (Vol. 73 Issue 8 ed.): 47.
  18. ^ a b Shields, Duncan. "'Reflections' with Thresh" (Interview). Archived from the original on 2021-12-13.
Additional sources

External links[edit]