The dazzling lights and unfathomably large prize pool of The International make becoming a professional gamer look pretty inviting. So how do you go about becoming a professional gamer?
Millions of dollars may be on the line at The International but the average esports competitor is far removed from that experience. Most of the money in esports is concentrated at the very top. The top 40 all-time esports earners all placed highly at The International which has a significantly higher prize pool that any other esports event.
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Few gamers are lucky enough to earn a salaried position on a team. Fewer still are good enough to consistently win tournaments and the big money that comes with it.
As more tournaments and esports events happen in Australia, more opportunities to succeed become available. There’s no one path to glory but here’s how you can get started.
There’s no denying that the only way to succeed in esports is to be good. Your average gamer that spends a few hours a week playing their game of choice would get crushed by any pro they come across. It takes hours upon hours of grinding to get to the skill level needed to compete at a high level.
To become a professional you must treat your hobby as a profession. That means practicing with intent to improve. Just as professional athletes spend hours every week focusing on specific skills so do professional gamers.
Join A Team
When most people think of esports teams they think of Team Liquid, SK Telecom and other big sponsored teams that appear at major events. Most teams are just groups of friends with a goofy name that competes in online tournaments.
The latter is where you’re going to begin. As you play more you’ll become a part of your game’s community, either by talking to other players or joining social groups connected to the game. The friends you make there may already have a team that they’ll invite you on or you can band together to form your own. Even players of solo games gravitate towards joining teams.
There isn’t a formal application process to join a team. You don’t send in your resume and a highlight reel in hopes of being accepted. If you want in you need to talk to a team and see what happens.
Joining a team lets you combine your knowledge and work together to keep improving. Having a consistent pool of players to work with as you all strive to improve will help you grow much faster than if you were still on your lonesome.
Tournaments and leagues take place constantly across Australia and around the world. Pick any game that people take seriously and you will be able to find a way to compete against other players.
Gfinity’s Challenger series opened up a path to professional gaming for Rocket League, Street Fighter V and CS:GO players. Those games also have regular, less formal tournaments available through local communities. Similarly League of Legends and Overwatch have regular competitions for people to join.
Participation in tournaments is a way to raise your profile as a player and ingratiating yourself as a part of the game’s community. Success is something you build towards, the first step is showing up.
You’ve joined a team. You’ve competed in some tournaments – maybe even had some success. You’ve practiced your heart out.
What’s next? More practice. More improvement. Even more practice.
Becoming an esports pro is a grind, one with little money for those starting out. You need to keep working to improve yourself as a player if you want to succeed. It takes a competitive mentality and constant drive.
Even that is no guarantee of success.