Do You Have What it Takes to be a Pro-Gamer?

Do you dream of becoming a pro-gamer? Perhaps a career in e-sports is what you aspire to? Or even streaming? If so, this dream doesn’t need to be an unrealistic one. After all, every successful gamer had to start somewhere!

We recently came across an interesting study exploring the world of esports and beyond. In it, three experts in the industry shared their tips and secrets about what it takes to make it big in professional gaming. The study also revealed some interesting learnings about the industry as a whole. So, we thought we’d share some of the highlights that we think could help you pave your way to success.

Esports or streaming?

There’s never been a better time to make a career out of gaming, but how do you choose which route to go down? While esports and streaming both involve playing games for a living, the two require slightly different skills. Esports is great for those who are all about the game – those who relish spending hours learning everything there is to know about a particular title. That’s how you get to competition standard!

Streaming, on the other hand, is very much about entertaining. So, if you’re someone who loves to vocalize your gaming strategy – with the odd yelp of excitement or panic thrown in – you’d probably make a pretty great streamer!

Plus, popular streaming sites such as Twitch and YouTube have experienced a 20% increase in the number of hours streamed in lockdown, suggesting gaming remains a strong industry to be in. And, while many live 2020 esports events were forced to cancel in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, some are continuing to go ahead in a virtual format for the time being. In fact, the esports industry is worth a hot $1.1 billion, based on 2020 figures.

What do you need to do to go pro?

Of course, like anything, practice makes perfect. But, with the standard so high in gaming, it’s going to take more than the odd recreational game here and there to excel. In fact, those at the top of their game dedicate countless hours a day to perfecting their strategy and technique. And, when you’re at the professional level, training goes beyond just gameplay. It’s also about staying physically fit and healthy.

Esports host, Frankie Ward says “esports teams are beginning to bring their routines in line with more traditional sports. Counter-Strike team Astralis, for example, has a coach, sports psychologist, and a physiotherapist. They also have a nutritionist and a sleep doctor that they can access, should they need extra help.”

Also, if you want to make a career out of gaming, it needs to be treated and taken seriously, like any other job. Aoife Wilson, Head of Video at Eurogamer explains, “as someone working in the gaming industry, the advice I would give to gamers who want to go professional is to be just that – professional. The most successful professional gamers I’ve met are incredibly focused, confident, and have a deep understanding of how their entire culture works. Not only that – they are also excellent communicators.”

How to choose ‘your game’

A career in esports can bring in some serious cash, but not all games are made equal. The study looked at the top 100 games and their prize pools to assess what types of games offer the highest winnings.

It found that multiplayer online battle arena games generally have the largest prize pools, with Dota 2 at the top (of course!), awarding a huge overall prize pool of $226 million split across 1,415 tournaments. This said, there are more first-person shooters among the top 100 games than any other genre. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has the biggest overall prize offering of all games in this category, with a total prize pool of $101 million, split across 5,203 tournaments.

It’s not all about money, of course! You have to be genuinely into the game that you’re competing in, or spending hours of your day practicing will quickly become tiresome. Professional streamer Chris Ball aka ‘Sacriel’ advises that “the best game to get into when moving into professional gaming or streaming is something you actually enjoy. It’s clear to see when a streamer is forcing themselves to play a type of game they don’t enjoy just because they feel a ‘big’ game is their only option – so instead find something that you can be passionate about.”

Who’s currently leading the way in esports?

Based on the top 100 male and top 100 female players in the world, the average age of a professional esports player is 24 for males and 27 for females – however, some are as young as 16. This suggests that there’s definitely scope for players to find success at a young age if they put their mind to it! Esports is also an incredibly diverse industry, with top players hailing from all over the globe. As it stands, the top competing esports nations are the USA, China, and South Korea.

Currently ranking in the first place is 26-year-old Johan Sundstein aka “N0tail”, from Denmark. He mainly competes in Dota 2 tournaments and, to date, has won a whopping $6.9 million in total! The top female player is 27-year-old Sasha Hostyn aka ‘Scarlett’ from Canada, who specializes in StarCraft II and currently ranks 331st in the world. Unfortunately, there aren’t any females ranking among the top 300 players, indicating a gender imbalance in the industry.

Commenting on the under-representation of women in esports, Aoife Wilson says “there needs to be women working in every sector of the industry, and there needs to be more women in senior roles – as managers, as directors, as coaches and mentors. It’s only then that younger generations of women will look at professional gaming and esports as a viable, safe, and welcoming place for them to work and forge a career.”

So, what do you reckon? Think you’ve got what it takes to go professional? Get practicing, set some goals, and you could find yourself at the top of the industry somewhere in the future!

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