A few decades ago, the idea of being a professional gamer was laughable, at least in the United States. Today, the number of individuals who play video games professionally is still small but it is growing exponentially. The growth of streaming services has made watching online sports quite popular, and those players who are the best of the best can make very healthy salaries playing the games they love. If you want to join their ranks, the process isn't as simple as sitting down to your computer or picking up a controller. There are very specific steps you'll need to take in order to become a gaming pro.
Creating a Mindset
Before you begin your career as a pro gamer, you'll need to sit down and think about what that really entails. Professional gamers are not people who simply play video games for fun - they are professionals who spend most of their time dedicated to perfecting their skills at a single game, even if there are other things that they'd wish to do. Professionals work full-time at becoming the best of the best, so start by making sure that you have the right attitude. If you can't see yourself putting in ten to twelve hours a day practicing and working on your brand, you may not be ready for this career.
Doing Your Research
Once you have the right mindset, you can turn towards figuring out the game you want to play. The best way to do this is by frankly assessing your skills in a particular genre. Are you get at shooters? MOBAs? Fighting games? It's the genre that tends to matter, so make sure that you know exactly where your skills lie.
From there, you'll do your research on the pro scene. Figure out which games have realistic professional career paths, which games pay the most, and which games have the most potential to still be around by the time you make it. You may need to take something of a mercenary path to get where you need to be, but that's simply the nature of the game. Your pro gaming career is going to be defined by the choices that you make during the research stage.
Honing Your Skills
Your next step is to hone your skills. Many of the games that now dominate e-sports have their own ranking systems, so make sure that you're constantly playing in ranked play and that you're steadily moving up the brackets. Your goal is not just to be among the best in the world at the game as a whole, but to be in the top one percent of players at a specific role. This is how you bring value to a team and get a shot at the big time.
You should also spend time reviewing footage of how the pros play. What generally separates a professional from a great player is the cultivation of specific but under looked skills. You'll want to learn how pros micromanage and move if you ever want to join their ranks.
As you start to hone your skills, you'll want to start making sure that you are regularly competing in local tournaments. If there are no tournaments nearby, you're eventually going to have to start traveling. Not only will this help you to get used to gaming outside the comfort of your home, but it will also help you to meet more people who are in the professional scene.
If you really want to go pro, you're going to need a history of winning amateur tournaments behind you. What's even more important, though, is participating in tournaments that might attract lower-level professional gamers. This is how you get your foot in the door and establish that you're playing on the same field as those who have already made it to the top.
Networking and Visibility
While dominating in the gaming space is always necessary, those who tend to have solid professional careers are those who are the most visible. You will need a solid social media presence, including a streaming channel, in order to separate yourself from the vast number of individuals who are trying to accomplish the same goals for you. Note that streaming can be a good way to make a secondary income, something you'll need while you try to make it onto a team.
You should try to network with gaming pros and team leaders whenever you can. Going to tournaments is a big part of this, but so too is playing when they're playing. When your name continually pops up as someone who's giving them a hard time, they'll start to respect your skills. Getting a good word from someone who is already a professional is one of the best ways to ensure that the right people start to pay attention.
Becoming a professional gamer requires a mix of hard work, networking savvy, and luck. The best players approach the process with a great deal of intensity even early on, so be aware that this is not something that you can do casually. While the number of truly professional players is still relatively small, it is a growing field. If you're able to make an impact now, you'll have a much better chance of being among the elite as online sports continue to push their way into the mainstream.