Even just 10 years ago, the notion that regular video gaming fanatics could potentially go professional and turn their passion into a day job was still pretty far-fetched. While there have been professional esports athletes for as long as there have been tournaments for them to compete in, this was historically a very small scene that was difficult to break into.
All of this has changed in the wake of the esports boom, as outside investors and sponsors have clamoured to associate themselves with this rising entertainment category. One of the simplest ways brands can achieve this is by supporting an esports team or athlete. As such, there are many more opportunities today for would-be pro gamers to gain a foothold in this sector.
This still, of course, raises the question of how one can go about distinguishing themselves in a certain game, and attracting sponsorship. Below we’re going to break down the basics of how anyone with natural talent can make their goal of competing in the top flight of competitive gaming a reality, all that’s required is you follow some simple steps.
Know Your Game Inside Out
This one may sound obvious, but few people realise that one of the key factors that distinguishes a truly great gamer from a merely skilful one is their depth of knowledge about their chosen game. As the age-old maxim states, knowledge is power, and being able to draw on information that your opponents do not have can make all the difference.
For example, in the popular card game and newly minted esport poker, knowledge can mean having an implicit understanding of the various combinations of hand rankings, and their draw probabilities. Elsewhere, in battle royale blockbuster Fortnite, it means knowing the map like the back of your hand, as well as understanding where weapon caches and advantageous items spawn.
This kind of information can help you out when you’re on the back foot – in both examples listed above, this information can help a player make decisions based on what their opponents are doing. Knowing that your rival can’t possibly have a flush in poker based on the cards that have appeared previously, or understanding that a player coming from a certain direction towards you on the Fortnite map is likely to have a weapon better than yours, helps you strategise and beat your competitors.
This also goes for the meta-game, that is, everything pertaining to the overarching design of the game. Knowing glitches and when to use them for best effect, or understanding that the power of a weapon will likely be downgraded by the game’s developers before long in order to balance the title, all feeds in to setting top-tier gamers apart from the rest.
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It’s all well and good being an expert gamer who knows everything there is to know about their favourite game, but if you’re not making waves on social media, prospective sponsors cannot find you. Adopting a broad social media strategy is useful for any would-be influencer, but for potential esports athletes, sharing your footage is the best advertisement to attract investment you can hope for.
Naturally, while it’s a good idea to establish a presence on TikTok, Instagram and other popular platforms, esports gamers primarily want to be focusing on streaming on Twitch. Since being acquired in 2014 by Amazon, Twitch has gone from strength to strength and has grown to become the world’s premier destination for esports content streaming and viewership.
As such, establishing a following for your streams on Twitch can be a fast-track to getting noticed by the right people. Just be sure to play to your strengths, as the streaming format is flexible enough to accommodate a range of approaches.
Some of the biggest names in esports, such as Ninja and Dr. Disrespect, who now streams on YouTube Gaming, have built up a following as much due to their on-screen personas as their gaming skills. But many more popular esports streamers have attracted sponsorship on merit of their gameplay alone, so just be sure to highlight this in the content you put out there.
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