Gaming for a living always seemed like some sort of an adolescent dream growing up. But it was never really clear how to go from a street rookie to a pro gamer.
Being paid to play your favorite game still remains one of the greatest fantasies, despite it is the reality for the truly hard working and talented.
eSports really exploded worldwide, and along with it so did the entire class of 15-30 year olds who now play games for a living. Out of the million players that play titles like
- League of Legends
they've gotten actually so good, they're being paid to play it.
The top players in the world are even pulling six figure salaries between sponsorships and team salaries.
But, how to go from a rookie to a pro gamer and be paid so much? Let's elaborate.
This may sound like a cliche, but playing more generally improves your skills.
It might be nice that you get to play a game that you love and think you're good at it. But, do you love it enough to spend eight hours a day playing it? Probably. Games rule!
But the point is that that's how much it takes to even imagine being a pro gamer.
The very top players have a regimented schedule against competitors at or above their own level, because that's truly the only way to improve.
Practice helps a lot because with time you realize what you're doing wrong, and improve it. If you genuinely stop and look at what's wrong with your game, you'll realize there's so much to improve.
You also have to make sure you're repeatedly playing with people who are way better than you, because that's how you grow as a gamer.
2. Keep your day job
It's crucial for you to have a back-up plan, just in case. This way, you won't have to worry or have an additional dose of stress of “What am I gonna do if I fail?”.
You can't focus and find out how to go from a rookie to a pro gamer if you don't have a safety net.
I highly recommend to not drop out of school or quit their current job until you have some indication that you'll be generating money.
If you've succeeded and won some tournament money, or your stream got a decent amount of ad dollars, than you can look to start scaling back on your activities.
By cutting them col turkey from the beginning is a risk you should not be taking.
Just like any field, it's important to study those who succeeded before you.
Watchinh pro replays over and over again you'll begin to realize that you're absorbing their own strategies and tactics. These players have been perfecting their art for years, and there's a lot you can learn from them. Especially if you're just starting out now.
Not only are other players most likely fantastic players, but they also teach you about the newest builds, meta and tricks.
And with the popularity of Twitch.tv, there's a good chance that you're already doing this. You're studying how a particular player won at your favorite game.
I highly suggest that you take notes, and discuss it with your gamer community.
Almost every game you watch is ever-changing, and it's pretty impossible to keep track of all the new strategies and ideas that new releases offer.
But, keeping in touch with relevant gamers give you the leverage of “knowing” everything just by watching them.
4. Get involved in communities
You have to understand that almost all pro gamers are part of a community, and you should follow that advice too.
Whether it's participating in a forum and discussing, or forming your own team it's important that you're not practicing alone in a vacuum. Outside strategies and ideas are very important for the road to become a pro gamer.
Virtually all games have online communities these days. And if you're playing a game, you need to get in one of the communities specifically for that game.
First of all, it gets you known to the community who play it. This is much easier if you're active and help by answering questions and giving tips that work. Being known as a positive person will never hurt your reputation.
Also, it will help you gauge feelings toward the game. This is especially useful if you work with sandbox games. Knowledge is power, and you should have it.
5. Rage control
One of the hardest lessons I had to learn the hard way : You're going to lose. A lot. And most of the time it's not your fault, right?
Even the best players in the world lose somewhere between 30%-50% of their games. This may sound too much, but it's the reality.
Losing is a part of how to become from a rookie to a pro gamer, and raging and trash talking will hurt you and will not help you improve.
The well known Ukranian Starcraft player “White-Ra” had a famous saying about rage:
When I starting play, I very disappointing and very sad after my lose. If you want to make one goal to win, you must lose. You can't win all games. We are people, we make mistake. We are not computer. And if you understand your mistake, you can make analysis of game. And continue to play, try and fix it. More GG, more skill.
Another hard and bitter truth you'll have to understand is that not everyone is cut out to be a pro player.
Even if you're good, you might just not have the ability to be on par with the pros. eSport requires you to have strong physical and mental prowess, and the top players have to make hundreds of actions a minute at all times. This makes them play at an almost superhuman speed, and it's pretty hard for a normal human being.
It's simply not possible for everyone, and it really doesn't matter how much you practice if you lack the talent.
You might be awesome at golf, but that doesn't mean that after 10,000 holes you'll become Tiger Woods.
Know your limits from the beginning, and if you strongly believe that you're cut out to be a pro than you should keep on. Otherwise, I highly suggest that you only play for your own entertainment and not look for making a living out of it.
7. Choose a platform and stick to it
If you're going down the content create route, that I highly suggest to choose one initial platform and stick to it.
Most content creators straddle platforms including Youtube, Twitch or Mixer, but when you're starting this can mean diluting your content.
You should keep the crossover for when you're established and have a rock solid routine in place.
It takes a lot of time to get to a point where you can create content that people will love will love and happy with it.
But, don't rush yourself by trying too much too soon.
Once you've acquired a reasonable audience, you can bring those people to another platform you like. You just have to realize that you might fall foul of cross-platform promotion rules.
Always check what you can and can't do.
8. Choose the right equipment
Believe it or not, the right equipment is known to boost up the ability to be better at a game.
You have to be careful and not get trapped in assuming it has to be expensive. Most gamers began with low budget setups, especially since you'll realize that it takes a lot of money to buy the newest gear.
Most people claim that it's absolutely necessary to have good gear in order to become good at a game. Some say that it only takes talent and hard work.
Personally, I think that it's totally up to you. I've known gamers that played with a wireless mouse better gamers that used a +100$ Razzer mouse.
This doesn't mean that the gear will not help you – because it does. But, I personally don't think that it's fundamentally necessary.
Like any other field, you have to do research. A lot. This helps you clarify how to go from a rookie to a pro gamer.
Every aspect of a pro graming requires research. All that differs is the type of research you do.
If you're looking for strategies, you should begin your search with: “your game” strategies. And a whole bunch of websites will appear. And if you're good enough on your research, you'll take notes of every website and you'll get a large number of tips and techniques to use.
eSport competitors need to research everything about their chosen game. From understanding how all the classes and characters work, to being aware of upcoming changes, you need to be on the top of the gaming news.
This keeps you ahead of competition.
You also need to know about any leagues of tournaments you can access and develop your skills more.
10. You have to enjoy it
This one of the most important tips on my list, simply because it affects all the former points.
If your'e toxic and angry, you will not have good communication therefore not have a good time playing. This leads to you having hard time finding good teammates and private opponents.
I strongly believe that this can be “cured” by choosing a game you love and enjoy playing. This is a point that some gamers start to forget with time: Gaming is supposed to be fun.
After all, it's hell to play a game that you hate for 8 hours.
So, before you jump into anything you should choose a game you love and enjoy and the success is halfway there!
11. Look after your health
The most important tip of them all: Stay healthy.
This is a tip that every gamer, pro or amateur need to follow. Look after your health!
I've seen a huge raise in mental issues among pro gamers, especially streamers or content creators. Often, this is cause by being burn out and exhausted.
Most pro gamers start their journey as part-time, and maintain their day job too.
Working and gaming takes a huge toll on your health, and you have to consider your health as a priority.
If you're suffering physically or mentally, it's best if you take a rest and go see a doctor. Or just seek help from your friends and family.
People will understand.
Gaming blogs you should follow
I've listed below some gaming blogs that have great content and news you can learn from and find out how to go from a rookie to a pro gamer.
- GoNintendo (www.gonintendo.com)
- Shacknews (www.shacknews.com)
- That VideoGame Blog (www.thatvideogameblog.com)
- UK Resistance (www.ukresistance.co.uk)
- Touch Arcade (www.toucharcade.com)
- Guardian Games Blog (www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog)
- Destructoid (www.destructoid.com)
- VG247 (www.vg247.com)
- Joystiq (www.joystiq.com)
- Kotaku (www.kotaku.com)
Happy gaming 🙂
John Marx is a native of Nebraska, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College in 2014 with a B.A. in French. Continuing his studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy.