There are more paths than ever to turn your passion for gaming into a professional career, and we at Clutch are fans of literally all of them. You could start a YouTube channel for critical game breakdowns, monetize your Twitch channel, or pursue any number of outlets.
But for competitive multiplayer gamers, there’s really no better way to feed your passion than with a career in esports.
There’s no one way to get into esports. It’s something you can aspire to on your own, or you could try to start your own esports team.
Regardless of how you choose to get there, this guide is going to point you in the right direction.
Intro to esports
Before we dive into the hows of esports, let’s look at the whats. Esports is a bit of an all-encompassing term that can mean some slightly different things for different people.
In the most basic sense, any game that can be played competitively can be turned into an esport. Competition is at the heart of the word in the same way that “traditional” sports doesn’t refer to any one specific type of activity.
In fact, when you stop and think about it, even the word “sport” can mean be more or less specific depending on who you are and how you feel about certain competitive games. Some folks consider games like bowling, poker, and even chess to be sports, while others are reluctant to classify even physically demanding but low-contact activities as such.
Modern-day esports are often massive, big-budget affairs held in sold-out stadiums to the tune of millions of dollars in prize money. But there are also niche games with highly competitive scenes that may not be as popular with mainstream esports audiences.
Why does this all matter to you?
If you’re serious about getting into professional gaming, you need to take a moment to consider what your end goal actually looks like. Is it sitting in front of thousands on a huge stage? Or is it something smaller in scope (though not any less challenging)?
Pick a game and stick to it
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it here on this very blog a few dozen times. If you want to go pro, you need to dedicate yourself to a single game.
Sure, you may branch out into something new down the line, but don’t worry about that yet. For now, pick a game, and stick to it.
The biggest difference between a casual amateur competitive gamer and a professional is practice and dedication. If you’re dividing your practice time between two or more games, you’re simply never going to be as good as a player who’s willing to put the same amount of time into a single title.
Choose a game that you have a natural proclivity towards. What do you enjoy playing the most, and can you see yourself playing it for 8-10 hours a day?
Make certain, too, that it’s a game you can live with turning into a job because that’s what it’s ultimately going to feel like. As nearly any pro gamer or athlete will tell you, at a certain point, the game becomes your job instead of your hobby.
For many would-be esports pros, that’s often the realization that turns them away from their dreams. Going pro may mean you stop enjoying your favorite hobby in the same way you do currently, and you need to make peace with that.
Of course, the flipside is that you should hopefully find an all-new sense of fulfillment in your new prospective career path. The game you choose to dedicate yourself should be one that gives you that.
Set your goal
If you enjoy competitive gaming and spend a lot of your free time playing multiplayer games, you’re probably already pretty good at them. If you’re particularly dedicated to a single game, you may even be better than most of the people you know.
To go pro with that game, however, you have to be prepared to compete on a completely new level. Seriously, just take a moment and look up your favorite game being played at the professional level. If you know the game as well as you think, then you should be able to tell immediately just how large the skill gap between you and the pros really is.
Don’t be discouraged. This is part of the journey. You need to identify your current skill level and where you need to be.
Practice. Review. Practice.
Your immediate goal is to close the gap between your current skill level and where you want to be, and you’re going to do that through dedicated practice.
Make a schedule of when and for how long you’re going to be playing your game competitively, and don’t deviate from it. Consider the following Dos and Don’ts:
- Practice 4-6 days per week in blocks of 1-2 hours
- Schedule your practice sessions for when you’re least likely to be distrubed or distracted
- Plan to give yourself breaks
- Treat your schedule like a job; dedication and discipline are key
- Schedule one or two days off every week
- Plan on practicing “whenever” every day; it’s not the same
- Skip your breaks; you need to avoid burnout
- Give up sleep to practice; if the only time you can play is early in the morning or late at night, cut down your practice time and ensure you’re sleeping enough
- Schedule your practice time over the top of your other obligations like school or work
Sit down and literally write your schedule on your calendar (or at least put in your phone) and treat that time like it’s sacred.
Next, make sure you’re set up to record all of your practice time through either a capture card or software (e.g. your console’s native capture functionality). You should dedicate time every day to reviewing your play. Keep a pad of paper next to you as you do, and write down where you’re doing well and where you want to focus on improving during your next session.
Challenge yourself to improve a tiny bit week over week. If your game of choice offers a ladder, start climbing it.
Make short-term goals you feel are realistic and attach those goals to a specific time period or date: “I want to move from Gold to Platinum by January 1st,” for example.
Join a team or league
Regular, dedicated practice is going to get you on the right path towards improving your game, but in order to truly challenge yourself, you need to seek out players who are like-minded.
You might consider starting your own esports team, or you might instead seek out existing teams or leagues who are looking for new players.
The options available to you here are going to be largely contingent upon your game and community of choice, but if you’re not sure where to look, start by finding and immersing yourself in the game’s online communities.
Seek out competitive-focused subreddits, forums, and public Discord servers, and make your goals known to other players.
For many would-be pros, this may feel like the most overwhelming stage of the whole process, but it’s crucial. The best way of improving your skill and ultimately achieving your goal is to meet and play with players and teams who are both as dedicated to the game as you are and as good or better than you.
Learn to love the journey
There’s a reason precious few gamers ever go pro in esports, and it doesn’t really come down to just talent or practice.
Making it to the highest levels of competition takes a lot of persistence, hard work, and networking.
It’s incredibly hard work, but it should also be fulfilling. Be patient, and learn to enjoy the process as you work your way up to the top.
And make sure you share your journey with us at Clutch. There’s a growing community of gamers here ready to cheer you on.