Playing video games professionally is often unheard of by the vast majority of people, especially from this part of the world. It is a rapidly growing career path for many young and on rare occasions older people. Professional gaming can also be referred to as eSports and in 2021, the global eSports market was valued at just over 1.08 billion U.S. dollars, an almost 50 percent increase from the previous year.
Becoming a professional gamer takes a huge amount of patience and dedication to your craft. Talent also plays a part in the overall skill a gamer has, but it can only get you so far in competitive gaming. Of course, to be a pro gamer is one thing, to excel as a pro gamer is another.
If you are reading this, you've probably logged in at least 10 hours in one specific game and may or may not be looking to take things to the next level. Whatever side you're on, keep reading to find out how to become a professional gamer.
I believe before we go deep into the requirements, you need to first understand what exactly a "Pro Gamer" is. The term refers to an individual who plays video games competitively and competes in tournaments to win prizes. A pro player doesn't necessarily have to compete on their own, different titles demand different orientations of competitors, and as such pro gamers may operate in teams to compete as a unit. They are often also sponsored by brands and advertisers as well, which is the biggest goal of any pro player because at that point;
i) Whether you win or lose at a tournament you would still get paid by your sponsors
ii) Depending on the financial capability of the sponsor your tournament travel and participation logistics will be sorted by them
iii) Your gaming equipment, if need be, would be upgraded, maintained, or replaced by your sponsor
Generally, it is a whole lot more cost-effective than competing as a standalone individual.
This would seem like a dream career for almost any young casual gamer, but what exactly would you need to do to be fully realised as a pro gamer?
Here are the very basic steps you'd need to take to begin your eSports career;
1. The Game
It should come as no surprise that the first thing you need to decide on is what game you would like to compete in. It is possible to compete in multiple titles, but for a beginner, it is highly advised you start with one and if you'd like to increase your numbers moving forward simply because of the amount of time needed to be good enough in one game and be relevant in the competitive scene which could ultimately result in you getting sponsored is plenty enough. Adding another title to that would be a major hindrance to your growth in most cases.
There are a lot of different titles to choose from, some of the more popular ones are League Of Legends, FIFA, Street Fighter, Call Of Duty, and Gran Turismo. You just have to decide which one you have more interest in and/or would be better suited to your taste/skill.
2. The Gaming Platform
This is as important as selecting a game to compete in. Picking a platform to play on will in some cases decide what game you get to compete in, for example;
League Of Legends is one of the biggest eSports titles and is only available on PC and Mac operating systems. Dota, another high-paying title, is also exclusive to PC, Mac, and Linux operating systems. However, Gran Turismo, Mortal Kombat, and FIFA are all titles that appear on all platforms but are majorly played in tournaments on consoles such as the PlayStations 4, 5, and Xbox. Your decision may already be decided by the platform you already play on now. Explore your options still and see which is more comfortable for you.
3. Your Gaming Setup
No one wants to play with someone on a bad connection, you using the bad connection won't even enjoy the games you're playing. That's just one of the many reasons to get a decent enough gaming setup. In recent times, online gaming is the staple for any title that has a community, and not having a good connection is one of the many reasons you won't enjoy playing a game or losing terribly when you do get to play.
Some other hindrances could be frame drops on-screen, faulty controller, faulty console, lack of stable power supply (at least for the duration of your gaming), bad posture, terrible/no microphone for games that require communication with teammates e.t.c.
All of those and more contribute to a terrible gaming experience that could be overlooked by a casual gamer but are imperative for a professional gamer. Investing in the right gear such as;
i) Latest Console or PC/Graphics Card
ii) Good Controllers
iii) Gaming Chair
iv) Good Internet Connection (preferably wired)
v) A Monitor
vi) A Microphone
To name a few. These equipment are in no way cheap but if professional gaming is your desire, these equipment and more you shall acquire.
Practice makes perfect... Ok maybe not perfect, but effective practice gets you close enough. I cannot stress how important it is for you to hone your skills the right way if you want to make it in the pro-gaming world. Watching tutorials and streams of better or more experienced players in your game of choice will assist you greatly in improvement. Learning the game's mechanics and terms is also very essential to understanding the tutorials or tournaments you watch.
5. Join A Community
There are hundreds of thousands of communities for the same and different communities across different titles. Finding one for you to join is as easy as figuring out the light jab button in a fighting game, there are multiple platforms with groups and servers dedicated to helping and connecting gamers on pretty much any title you might be interested in. Examples of said platforms are Discord, Twitch, Youtube, Facebook, and of course gamr.
6. Attend Local Tournaments
After all your labbing and online raging, you need to test your might at offline events, which is how the biggest events are hosted. Even though a local tournament might not be a big one, it's still advised and beneficial to participate in them. There you can socialize with people of like minds and beyond, play casuals with people who are as invested in the game as you and build connections that may come in handy later on maybe for casual gaming meetups/hangouts.
Ultimately, local tournaments help expose and prepare you for the big ones when you decide to take the big step.
7. Compete At Big Tournaments
Not everyone who plays competitively attends big tournaments. Due to one reason or the other, whether it be fear, distance, or just personal reasons, some people decide just not to attend the big tournaments and that's okay. Not for a pro gamer though, the big events are the ultimate test of skill, the stage where all your labbing, if ever, should come in at its most effective.
Attending big events is nerve-wracking for a lot of gamers, the thought of going to play and potentially not winning a single game is scary, but it's what also drives a pro player to do better. If the result you get is not what you expected, you go back to the lab and work on what you did wrong or couldn't overcome and then come back stronger. That doesn't mean you can't do worse immediately after, tournaments are always filled with new people and you might run into new obstacles every time. However, the moment you overcome your obstacles and earn your first prize, it'll all be worth the effort, and that gives you the drive to level up even further and come back which you absolutely should do because the opponents you defeat will return with a vengeance.
Above all that, if you're good enough to place highly at tournaments you'll be easier to spot by potential sponsors.
Becoming a pro gamer is in no way an easy feat, but the journey to becoming one of the best as well as getting sponsored if at all you do decide to go competitive is worth the effort.
Having a passion for gaming makes the journey a lot easier than simply seeing it as just a career path so, love what you do, and please... Lab, because the gamers in the competitive scene are not smiling.
Written by Ojeaga Ized