The life of an eSports athlete is fascinating. I never knew how complicated it could be. For all, you aspiring gamers just beginning down this career path it’s helpful to have an idea of what you’re getting into.
What happens when you pursue a gaming career? It’s best to be fully aware of the negatives and the positives of being an esports athlete. There is a lot of long hours, lots of traveling, and pressure to win. But, you get to do something you’re passionate about and be in a community that loves gaming.
We all need a reality check before beginning a new and exciting career. The grass isn’t always greener. It’s not just about playing video games…this is a competitive but potentially rewarding career path.
Having the Right Perception
The esports industry is quickly on its way to being worth 2 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money!
When you start bringing in that much money the general public begins to take you seriously.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2017, worldwide revenues generated in the esports market amounted to 655 million U.S. dollars. At the pace of 22.3 percent CAGR, the market is expected to generate close to 1.8 billion U.S. dollars in revenue by 2022.
Unfortunately, young gamers are getting the wrong idea about what life looks like as a professional gamer.
I’m one of those people! I thought a career as a professional esports athlete would be filled with video games and having fun.
But after much research about the industry and reading interviews, I realized it’s not exactly all cupcakes and rainbows.
I’m not saying it’s all bad, but you need to have a proper perspective before diving too deep into the industry.
There are a lot of jobs within the industry that have nothing to do with actually playing video games. But, this blog post is going to focus specifically on being an esports athlete.
Feel free to check out our previous post about other careers, but today it’s all about people who want to play the games.
Time to Grow Up
As a kid, I thought it sounded like so much fun to be an adult. To me, it looked like you got to do whatever you wanted, get a great job, and raise a family.
But now that I have achieved all of my “ adult goals” reality has sunk in and it’s not that easy to be grown up.
You have a lot of responsibilities, make tough decisions, and sometimes do stuff you don’t want to do (like mow the lawn). OK, that is my best analogy to the life of an esports athlete.
Thanks to social media services like Twitch and Twitter we can see into the athlete’s lives and dream about achieving what they have.
It looks great from afar, but that’s the danger of social media. People can post only the good and filter out the problematic aspects of their lives and career.
Don’t give up on your dream of being an esports athlete. All I’m saying is to be smart and know what you’re getting yourself into.
Competition is Stiff
When I write about competition in esports, I’m talking about how incredibly difficult it is to separate yourself in the industry and the athlete’s competitive drive to win at all costs.
A lot of young gamers first exposure to esports is by watching a tournament or match on Twitch.
They’ll see people their age competing with their friends to win large sums of money. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Don’t think you’re the only one who assumes they can make a living out of being an esports athlete.
Gamers start thinking, “if that person can do it I should be able to do it too.” This train of thought is what makes it so difficult to break into the esports industry.
The number of people all competing against you in tournaments, for sponsorships, and for viewership on Twitch is astounding.
Everyone wants a slice of that 2 billion dollars for themselves.
It doesn’t matter what game you chose; there will always be tons of people with the same goals as you.
eSports is an industry that’s growing with new opportunities, but you’ll have to wait in line with a lot of people to get these opportunities.
It’s not impossible to separate yourself from the horde of competition. But you have to win…and win BIG!
You Must Win and Win Big
One of the defining traits of an esports athlete is their desire to win at all costs.
It’s what drives them and pushes them not to let anything get in their way of winning. Which translates into getting a paycheck from playing video games.
My brother and I were very competitive as kids. Having a brother means daily life becomes a competition.
We were always racing and competing to do something better than the other.
I consider myself a competitive person in just about every area of life. I struggle when I lose a simple game like UNO or Go Fish.
My competitive nature though is nothing compared to the athletes on the esports pro circuit.
They want to win so bad at their chosen video game they’re willing to make personal sacrifices to get there.
So the question is; are you willing to sacrifice anything to win?
Can you do whatever it takes to win a major tournament against the best in the world?
You need to know yourself and whether you have the drive to succeed as a professional gamer.
You May Need Additional Income
Another common perception that needs to be addressed is how these professional gamers pay their bills.
In an Ideal world, every professional gamer would be signed to an esports team earning an annual salary. But that is not the norm.
Like everyone else, I thought most athletes made a living from their winnings at tournaments. Unfortunately, there really isn’t enough tournaments to support yourself and your family.
I’m not saying you have to find a job outside of gaming, but you need to get creative with the skills you have.
The number one way most professional gamers pay their bills is through having a Twitch streaming channel.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ninja (Tyler Blevins) has 11,161,000+ viewers on Twitch, has an estimated net worth of $3.5+ million, and earns over $500,000 every month from streaming alone.
It’s actually very common for the general public to watch the best in the world do what they do best.
The top streaming stars know how to be entertaining while playing and build a fanbase that can support them when they’re not competing in tournaments.
You’ll have to use your personality, get creative, and be funny. Simply engage with your viewership to make people want to come back for more.
When a gamer signs up for Twitch, there’s an option for viewers to donate money. This is how esports athletes are earning money using Twitch.
CHECK IT OUT
How to Set Up Donations on Twitch by Lifewire
They’re relying on fans to love and support their product and personality.
Understanding now before you begin your career that you ’ll have to use other means to make money potentially is vital.
Many young gamers get burned out when they realize they can’t make enough money relying on tournaments alone.
Not only can professional gamers earn money through donations; some athletes get corporate sponsorships on their Twitch channel.
Some of the best gamers get paid by companies to show their logos during their Twitch feed and give personal shoutouts (endorsements).
It’s a good side hustle to know before heading down a path as an esports gamer.
Travel is Part of the Grind
Personally, this would be one of my favorite parts of being an esports athlete.
I’m a world traveler and have been to a variety of countries. So this aspect of the job really wouldn’t be a problem for me.
Some people might not be aware of the amount of traveling you have to do as a professional gamer.
Yes, a lot of tournaments are held online where you can compete from home.
But to get sponsorships or signed to a significant esports team will require you to attend tournaments in person.
Actually getting to these tournaments can cause a lot of issues for people. Unless you live in a major city, the likelihood of there being an esports tournament in your area is not good.
The money and time commitment might be the biggest hindrance. It can cost a lot of money to rent a car, stay in a hotel and fly to tournaments.
There’s a lot of time spent in airports waiting for flights or sitting in traffic trying to get to the next gaming tournament.
If the money and time commitment isn’t an issue then it might be the actual traveling itself.
So many people are nervous flyers which makes the thought of flying to tournaments around the world difficult.
It’s just a reality of the industry. You have to travel to make a career out of esports.
Long Hours and No Parties
For most of us, we play video games when we have time and typically for no longer than 2 to 5 hours.
If you are serious about an esports career, your gameplay time will literally need to triple.
The best gamers in the world spend their entire day playing their chosen video game to perfect their skills and techniques.
Being a professional video game player is a job; it’s not a hobby. These players are spending 12 to 14 hours a day playing video games.
There are so many gamers competing and to be the best you have to practice like them.
The best in the world are living and breathing video games almost every minute of the day.
This might sound like a dream come true to some; to play video games all day but it takes on a new meaning when it’s your job.
Some days you may not feel like playing, but you’re not going to have a choice. You have to practice so you can compete in tournaments.
The best esports athletes go beyond merely playing video games. They also rely on watching “game film” to see how they can improve.
For me, games were always more of a hobby, so it’s intimidating to think about playing for 12+ hours a day.
In addition to spending all their time practicing, another aspect aspiring gamers need to understand is it’s not all parties.
Again, thanks to social media the life of an esports athlete looks like Las Vegas almost every night.
It looks like all you do is hang out with friends, drink a little, and have “groupies.” That’s just not reality though!
These gamers are practicing, studying, and bonding with their teammates. But their sole focus is on improving their playing techniques.
I’ve read some interviews where esports athletes do reference “after parties”, but typically they are only after significant tournaments they’ve competed in.
Play Nice or Else
I bet you didn’t see that coming as a major topic of conversation during this blog.
To get far in this industry have to know how to be nice and a professional.
Esports organizers are very strict on athletes when they compete in tournaments.
They don’t put up with any bullying, harassment, or foul language while competing in their tournaments.
Esports wants to build a fun family-friendly environment which means cracking down on players that aren’t playing nice. However, not all tournaments are family-friendly though because of the type and mature rating of the video games being played.
Most esports tournaments are built around camaraderie and teamwork, which emphasizes being kind to your fellow gamers.
It’s a weird balance to be nice and aggressively competitive, but it’s something every gamer has to grapple with in order to find that perfect balance.
All the organizers are really looking for is professionalism. Being an esports athlete is your full-time job, so you need to act like a professional at tournaments.
You better believe that companies offering sponsorships are also looking for nice and professional athletes.
If they’re going to attach their brand to somebody, they want to make sure it’s the right person that’ll carry their brand well.
Know Your English
If you’re reading this blog you most likely understand English.
It’s important to know that most esports tournaments require you to be able to speak some English.
The Electronic Sports League (ESL) is the largest esports organization and company in the world. And ESL requires you to be able to speak English at all their major World Championships.
Even though esports is such a worldwide phenomenon with athletes from South Korea, Asia, and Germany, it’s still widely enforced that you know English.
Short Career Life
If you are a young gamer; getting old is the furthest thing from your mind.
It was for me until I realized my 10-year high school graduation is this year. Now I’m starting to feel old!
But for all you gamers out there just getting started in your esports career, please know the average career length is very short.
The esports industry focuses on youth and speed making it difficult for older gamers to compete.
According to the Esports Earnings Highest Earnings by Age report, there is no player earning a 6-figure salary over the age of 34. Most (75%) are in the teens and 20s.
It’s very similar to other professional sports careers like the NBA, NFL, and MLB where athletes are retiring much younger than you’d expect.
There are obviously exceptions, but for the most part, esports athletes retire by the age of 25. That is very young!
Enjoy your esports career while it lasts. Just know in the back of your mind that it will most likely be a short part of your professional career.
Many of the organizers and companies trying to build the industry are still figuring out the best way to regulate all its components.
With esports being such a worldwide phenomenon it can be challenging to maintain consistency.
Leagues are still being established, rules are still being put in place, and there’s a lot of inconsistencies still needing to be cleaned up to make esports the behemoth it’s going to be.
It’s essential for young gamers to be smart when they’re joining the industry.
There’s going to be a lot of companies and people that’ll make promises about furthering your career.
It’s vital that you listen to the people in your life whether it’s your parents or your mentors to make sure you’re making the right decisions.
Companies are going to want to tap into your skills and likeability, so you have to make sure to protect your brand…YOU!
I’m just providing information from stories and articles that I’ve read about being smart when dealing with business decisions in eSports.
Know what you’re signing up for, know the requirements of every contract, and understand how your money is being managed.
This should be a fun career and an exciting part of your life. So make sure you protect yourself and all your assets. This way you can focus on what you love which is playing video games.
How long does it take to make it big in esports? Unfortunately, that’s not something I can answer quickly. It varies for every person depending on the video game they’re playing, and how skilled they’re at the game.