Esport careers are currently still very short, and of course, only the best of the best are reported. But there are also other ways to make a living with gaming. How you can get there and what you have to do (and give up) for that, unfortunately, nobody talks about it. We do. So, hand on heart: How to become a professional player and how long does it take?
Depending on the definition of pro gaming, it usually takes up to 5 years to get to a team that offers you a contract you can live on. The amount of your salary depends not only on your negotiating skills, skills in-game, and the results you have achieved in your career so far but also on your brand’s strength.
Extroverted players are more attractive advertising platforms than introverted ones.
Of course, this is only a very superficial answer. There are many more factors that influence, and in the end, it also depends on the definition of the term “Pro Gaming.”
So let’s start there.
Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.
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Definition of a Pro Gamer
Many Esport organizations operate so professionally that they pay the players and everything else around them. For example, they provide the Infrastructure in the form of shared flats, PCs or consoles, monitors, equipment, travel costs up to the masseur, and mental trainer. Of course, these teams are only the tip of the iceberg, and if you look at the top 20 games on https://twitch.tv, then that makes a total of maybe 100 companies worldwide, many of which are based in Asia.
The players who earn their bread and butter here make a living from it and are “pro gamers” per se. The pressure is immense, and if they fail, their career is over relatively quickly.
Next in line are teams or organizations that give their players a little financial support. This starts with hardware and ends with a salary equivalent to a student job. If you’re a student or live with your parents and don’t have to pay rent, that’s enough to live on. Even here, you can still talk about pro gaming.
Another group of players have been professional competitive gamers or have distinguished themselves through exceptional talent and earn their living by streaming. One example is Shroud, another DrDisrespect. When streaming on Twitch or YouTube, you can compensate for lack of skill or experience through entertainment. Gambling in front of the camera all day long is non-competitive pro gaming.
Everything else is not professional gaming. Period.
Just because you win a tournament on FACEIT or at the ESL on the internet, you are not a pro gamer. And playing the whole day long certainly feels like a job, but without a life-sustaining income, this activity does not fall under the meaning of the term pro gaming.
So let’s move on.
Which way do you have to go and how long does it take?
The 4 Phases of How to Become a Pro Gamer
1. Phase – The Start: Your Name is Nobody
You enter a game fresh and with it a new “community.” You play randomly with different people, and maybe you are more often on Discord or Teamspeak servers that belong to larger gaming communities. If you are still totally unknown, it will take up to half a year until you have gained the game’s necessary experience. Your statistics on public servers is something like your first reference. Once you have shown talent and gained some experience, you will move on to phase 2.
2. Phase – Solid: Will You Join my Clan?
Either you have already had contact with various players and groups/teams, or you are looking for a new team based on your excellent ranking values. You will hear the question first: “How many competitive playing hours do you have already?” Well, to say zero would be the truth, but you can make the bride pretty for a while. So the answer is, “Some in the game XYZ, but I’m still relatively new at this game.”
The 2nd phase can easily last 2-3 years.
You will start with a team that has a similar level to yours. You will quickly outperform everyone else, correct? The fluctuation in such an amateur team is usually very high. The first great love, vocational school/studies, and “real-life friends” are often more important to your teammates than striving for greater success.
If you stand out from the team, you will automatically make contact with better players. Offer yourself for custom games, help out in a tournament if someone is missing. If you keep your eyes open, there will always be situations where you can show yourself and your skills to better teams. And if you can grasp something better, then go for it!
Smaller contracts in the amount of a student job can already sweeten your gaming experience at this stage. You’ll move from team to team as you and your teammates get better and better. If you keep working on yourself and do everything right in public relations (social media, streaming, etc.), you will break through the ice to the top leagues of your game.
3. Phase: I am a Star, where to go?
The band begins to play. At this point, you have to make a decision: Real pro gaming, or do you just like gaming for fun? With an actual contract, you have many obligations. Fixed working days, fixed pieces of training, national and international travel. Guided public relations puts you in the spotlight more often. The first interviews get your face in the media. And then perhaps the big day will come at some point, or even several days when it’s all about the big deal.
Finals. You won’t get many chances, so take them!
That also applies to a possible team change within the top leagues. This phase can last as long as you can and want to perform at your best level.
4. Phase: 2nd Breath
There comes a time when you have to stop. Either with your game or entirely with the active playing career.
It is time for a change.
If you are still at the best age, you can go through phases 1-3 again in another game. You may even benefit from your reputation and jump from phase 1 directly to phase 3. If you are older, your second spring can lead you into the role of coach, manager, or streamer.
In the meantime, some organizations have entire youth development programs, where an old experienced lad is often used as a coach.
If you have gathered a large fan club, it can be more lucrative to do your own thing with streaming. This is a great way to end your pro gaming career, isn’t it, Shroud?
Which Factors Influence the Process?
Here are 5+ factors that you can actively control to reach your goal faster:
1. Choice of the Game
There are titles with big scenes where you have a lot of competition, and there are less popular games where you can stand out faster. Logically, the money you love is always linked to the market reach of the game. Bigger is better. But bigger also takes longer.
2. Selection of the Team
You can only look at people up to their heads. You will have to determine whether your teammates are earnestly striving for success – like you – or whether the slightest disagreement will cause chaos in the voice chat. Over time, you will become more knowledgeable about people and make better and better decisions. In a team, you are, of course, always very dependent on others. However, most pro gamers are found in squad games. The better your organization, the faster you get ahead.
3. Communication and Networking
Nobody gets to the top without help. Find better players as mentors (duo partners), offer yourself as a substitute for other teams, or do networking on social media. Show yourself, but pay attention to your tone, your language, and what you show about yourself. The Internet does not forget. Sponsors won’t accept a player who misbehaves or who has any youthful sins on the internet. So this factor can be either a catalyst or a brake.
4. Will and Discipline
Deeds must follow words. If you tell others about your dream, it is also clear that you have to act like a pro gamer. That is how you will always be measured. Punctuality and reliability are the be-all and end-all of the industry. Countless careers of professional athletes have shown that ultimately, consistency in training, in the cooperation of a team, and fair dealings with competitors, create the foundation for a successful career. Setting an example will significantly accelerate your path.
5. Social Environment
Your social environment strongly influences your mood, your performance, and your daily structure. Better skills do not fall from the sky. It would be best if you had time, family support, peace, and concentration. To achieve something, unfortunately, always means to sacrifice things at the same time. So you should cut off old habits if they hinder you on your way to pro gaming. If you only do things halfway, you will only move at half speed.
Pro gamer is not a recognized occupation requiring formal training. Three years of padding, and then you’re done – No, this is a unique path.
Many different factors influence your journey, and there is always the risk that you will end up empty-handed. We have shown you some factors which primarily determine the duration and which you can control yourself. Beyond that, there are, of course, a lot of aspects you have little influence on.
With the right mindset, however, you will attract good opportunities almost “magnetically.”
If you do everything right, you should reach your zenith within five years.
In this post, we have highlighted how great the chance is to become a pro gamer:
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GL & HF! Flashback out.