Like all of us, I once dreamed of a pro gamer career but quickly came down to earth based on my results.
My brother Masakari made it, though, and looking back, the small but subtle differences between us had a massive impact on achieving the goal of pro gaming. But let’s talk about you.
You are a gamer with passion. Your skill is (in your opinion) high, and you have hopeful thoughts and questions: Could I become a pro gamer? What are the odds? How to become a professional gamer?
The chance of becoming a pro gamer is, depending on the game, far below 0.01%. There are more professional teams and contracts in games with a big competitive scene, but the competition is also higher. Esports is growing rapidly, so the chances to get a sponsorship increase.
But this low value shouldn’t stop you from aiming for an Esports career – because one thing is for sure: If you want to play and survive in the top leagues, you have to dominate 99.9% of the players anyway. This usually applies to every sport.
Let’s look together at how I came up with this slim chance.
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Basis of Calculation
We define the term “Pro Gamer” very narrowly from an economic perspective: Gaming is supposed to secure your livelihood. It’s not about you getting any money for gaming at all or getting out with zero at the end of the month. It’s about being able to live well, feeding your family, and, if necessary, securing your old-age provision.
So, as a result, we are talking about a pro gamer if, at the end of the year, almost a 6-digit amount is reached. Whether this comes solely from employment, prize money, individual advertising contracts, or secondary income such as coaching or live streams doesn’t matter. Someone who is just playing for a student salary or even daily with enthusiasm, but fun, does not count as a pro gamer. Okay?
You only need to concentrate on the top league for most games (CSGO, PUBG, FIFA, Rocket League, LoL…). One plays relatively professionally below, but not under the conditions mentioned above. And this is exactly where a pro gamer wants to go.
There are two additional variables.
- The mass of all players
- The sum of the competitive players
Why is the mass of all players critical? It is a measure of the market for the game in question and is therefore essential for sponsors. A game bought or played by many people naturally has many more spectators. Thus, the advertising effect is much higher than a game that only a few players accepted.
So this variable tells you how attractive the conditions for a pro gamer in this game can be and how many possible pro slots there are in the particular Esports scene. Many players mean more attractive contracts and higher prize money. Few players mean correspondingly lower conditions and sums.
The sum of the competitive players tells you how hard it will be to reach your goal. A big competitive scene means much more competition. It is more challenging to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, pro gamers can expect much more attractive conditions if they make it to that point. Usually, a bigger competitive scene also means more steps on the way to the top. If you act skillfully and show performance, you will move very quickly into the semi-professional area, where you will already be in contact with smaller contracts.
On the other hand, small competitive scenes show a tendency to hop or flop. Either you make the promotion and get one of the few professional contracts or play (at the highest level) for free.
The two variables can be similar, but they can also be completely different. For example, FIFA has many millions of players worldwide, but the competitive scene is relatively small in comparison. On the other hand, counterstrike (CSGO) has millions of players worldwide, and the competitive scene is enormous.
Okay, so that’s out front. Let’s go over two sample calculations.
Example Calculations PUBG and FIFA
For illustration, we take two better-known games, a shooter and a sports game. First, let’s take a rough look at the chance of a professional contract for a player from Germany. Numbers, variables, etc., are not exhaustive, but they will give you a feeling of calculating and estimating probabilities for your game.
Let’s get started.
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
At the beginning of 2018, there were 30 million PUBG players worldwide. A statistic on Reddit showed that the share of German players was about 4%, about 1.2 million.
That is, of course, quite an attractive mass. For sponsors, it’s a desirable number. But, unfortunately, first-person shooters, especially shooters with an age rating of 18 years or older, are not very highly regarded by sponsors in Germany.
In this case, math is easy. The probability that any new player will become a pro gamer is about 0.00008%. That’s nothing.
Okay, okay, let’s leave out the casual players and focus only on the direct competition in the competitive scene. In Europe, there are about 160 teams with 6 players on average. That makes roughly 1000 competitive players who are potential candidates for the one professional contract currently available in Germany.
So the chance is 0.1%.
Assuming that you enjoy traveling, have good English knowledge, and join a European team, we are talking about maybe 20 possible contracts for german players playing PUBG.
So your chance has climbed to an incredible 2%.
However, since in almost every European country, most sponsors prefer to support family-friendly games. A contract as a PUBG professional player is certainly at the lower end of the possible spectrum. Besides, the game has already passed its zenith. But we’ll all get another chance when PUBG 2 comes out (Source). 🙂
Let us come to the second example – FIFA.
Again, we are calculating from the perspective of a player from Germany – simply because we know more reliable figures.
In the highest league, 22 clubs with 2 players each play for prestige and big prize money. So let’s take it easy and round up the number of professional players to 50.
FIFA 20 was sold a good 1.5 million times in Germany. Therefore, the chance of one of these 50 professional contracts is about 0.003%.
Yes, we are again eliminating the couch potatoes, family fathers, and wannabe console footballers from the numbers.
According to ESL, the competitive scene in Europe currently has about 3000 active players. With 50 contracts, this corresponds to a decent chance of 1.7%. Again – all Europeans are potential candidates for the German contracts. What applies to classic international football is now also standard in virtual football.
If you are again not opposed to moving abroad, we will assume a factor of 10 for the possible contracts throughout Europe, i.e., there are about 500 potential professional contracts.
Your pure chance, in this case, could be about 17%.
That doesn’t sound so bad, but some specific factors can positively or negatively affect reality.
Specific Influencing Factors
Can you assume that these calculations also apply to your location? No. There are massive regional differences that would substantially impact these calculations. Research the values for your game and calculate how significant the probability is. Here are some factors that play a role and can change the values significantly:
Countries and Cultures
Asia is a pioneer in gaming. Sports games, strategy games, and first-person shooters live on television at prime time. If such a high level of social acceptance is achieved, this clearly affects a pro gamer’s status and earning potential. The competitive scenes are much more significant – even for niche games – and the competition is huge.
On the other hand, it is possible that gaming is still rejected by society in your country. That shooter players are frowned upon. Finding an excellent breeding ground for a pro-gamer career will be very difficult in such countries. Your chances would be much smaller in this case.
The public opinion, the number of spectators, and the identification of specific age groups with your game are interesting for sponsors. But, of course, it also depends on your personality. Still, if you play a relatively realistic first-person shooter from 18+, for example, then this reduces the number of possible sponsors massively.
Scene Size, Strength, and Talent Management
As explained above with the variables, your personal probability is strongly influenced by a competitive scene’s size. Therefore, excellent conditions logically are offered by a massive community with many spectators, if possible, a good promotion of young talents and a lot of competition.
The manufacturer of the game also plays a crucial role again and again. The prize money for the individual events and the quality of the game in terms of mass compatibility for Esports players and spectators, as well as sponsors, depend very much on the game manufacturer.
If a game is not developed well, the fire goes out very quickly. So also pay attention to the current status of your game. If it is a rising star (Valorant), then a pro gaming career becomes more attractive. On the other hand, your probability will decrease over time if you aim at a sinking ship (PUBG).
We have already addressed the topic of age in the blog post, “Gamers Reaction Time | Measure And Train Your Reactions”.
Unfortunately, your age does matter. If you are still very young <20, you still have every chance of becoming a pro gamer. If you should change abroad, further education in foreign languages is no problem.
If you are over 24, then the train has probably already departed. That is, unfortunately, the bitter reality today. This is because the sponsors prefer to support players who the spectators accept as identification figures. A teenager is more likely to take a 24-year-old as a role model than a 40-year-old.
With the increasing age of gamers in the population, there are first tendencies that pro gamers can have a longer and longer career path. However, today, it is an absolute exception if you still get a good contract at the age of 27 and above.
Lastly, your head is the most significant variable.
How seriously do you take the desire to be among the best? Are you adjusting yourself and your life to this? Do you adhere disciplined to methods, processes, habits, and goals that distinguish a top athlete from an amateur? Are you willing to learn and to let better competitors show you up sometimes so that you can gradually learn from your mistakes and eventually come out on top?
Your attitude is a significant factor. Being a pro gamer also means giving up a lot. Every competitive athlete subordinates a lot to their goal. Health, social contact, scheduling, etc., cannot be compared with a regular job.
If you are a strong-willed person who also finishes things, this will considerably increase your chances.
Encouragement – The Future of Esports
You may have already played with the important numbers and found out with horror: I don’t really have a mathematical chance of becoming a pro gamer.
Now comes the trick: 90% of the competitive players have this thought at some point and give up or are only half-heartedly involved. Now you can calculate how many competitors you have. If you work continuously on your mindset and your skills correctly, your probability has just increased massively.
Let us take the FIFA example from above again:
90% of the 3000 competitive players are not entirely in the game, so you have 300 serious opponents. So your chance (in the example) has just increased from 1.7% to 17%. Not bad, right?
If, in addition to the Skillz, you can make yourself more attractive as a brand than most of your direct competitors, then we are slowly getting into percentage ranges where you can say: If I stay injury-free and don’t make any blunders, then there’s a realistic chance to become a pro gamer.
No one will ever give you guarantees, and having a plan B in your pocket is always mandatory. But we see steady economic growth in Esports. That should provide you with hope. It’s only a matter of time before a video game becomes an Olympic discipline.
The prize money in Esports already exceeds most of the sums in other sports. Most societies and cultures have become sympathizers with gaming as entertainment and sport over the last decades.
Maybe today is the best time to start a pro gamer career. At least the starting position has never been better.
Let’s get to the end. Probabilities in Esports, unfortunately, still cast many more shadows than light. There are positive developments, but becoming a professional athlete in Esports is very rocky compared to classic sports.
The probability is influenced by many variables on which you have no influence. Therefore, it is essential to concentrate on factors that you have under control. Mainly your head. Behave like a professional athlete, and you will be one someday. It sounds shallow, but there is no other way. Let us support you in this, consistently work out possibilities, and use them.
A career as a pro gamer is possible, but it requires many sacrifices. First, you need to prove that you are blessed with excellent skills. If you love your game, and the primary factors mentioned above provide a good foundation, then go for it! If you don’t try, you can’t achieve anything.
Lots of success!
Now that you know the odds, of course, the follow-up question is: How long does it take to become a pro gamer? Here’s the answer.
If you have a question about the post or pro gaming in general, write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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GL & HF! Flashback out.