Saturday 7 October 2017

So you want to be a Pro Gamer?

I am always amazed that people entering into the world of competitive gaming expect gaming to be somehow different from the other more traditional sports. As with the other sports, being a professional sportsman is not all about fun and playing for fun.

It is all about hard work – just like any other career that is from 9H00 to 17H00.

Of course you must enjoy it if you want to get the most out of it, but it is all about hard work, and like anything else, there will be the moments when you have been knocked to the ground and when you wonder why you are even doing it.

That is the moment that the champions are separated from the losers, the champions will immediately get up and carry on.

However, if you still want to be a professional gamer, you should:

Take care in picking your game. Picking a game is the first important step. You should be almost blinkered in choosing your game, and when you play it, you should learn as much as possible about the game that you have chosen. Any other game that you play should also feed into the game that you have chosen so that the recreational games, while different, also hone the tactics/strategies/ or other skills that you use in your primary choice of game.

The game that you choose should also be a game that is played on an international level. There is no point in choosing a game that is only played within a small group, or one that will be redundant within 12 months as you will then be limiting your own earning potential.

Choose the long-road. So many people entering gaming choose the short-road that offers what appears to be quick returns. This is the wrong approach as the quick returns are often not substantial nor sustainable. The long-road, although harder will give greater returns for a longer time period. Thus 'PandaTank' instead of going to play in the DGC competition at rAge in 2011 and 2012, he went to the MSSA National Team Trials. By forgoing the quick-fix of the limited prize money, 'PandaTank' was able to compete in the 3rd & 4th IeSF World Championships in South Korea where he was noticed. By being noticed at such a level thus allowed him to fly to the USA, France, and Sweden. Not only that the long-term view that 'PandaTank' took, meant that he would become the first ever South African gamer who would be paid a salary to play as a full-time career.

Stay motivated. Being a professional gamer is hard. There are contractual obligations in terms of guest appearances, the number of championships that you have to play as well as even in what position you finish in said championships. Then you will have to face the critics which will range from your own family through to friends, bloggers and journalists. At times it seems more than daunting. But remember that you are doing what you want to, and that you should be absolutely blinkered about it, and put your choice above everything else.

Practice, practice, practice - perfectly. The first thing you must do is set aside the time in which you practice, and then, keep to it! Nothing must come between you and your practice, not your friends not a good night out, not a birthday, nothing! In the practice sessions you must draw up a schedule for improving you reaction speed, knowledge of the game, knowledge of the maps, how others play the game. The discipline that you learn from a well structured practice schedule will treat you well in a competition environment and in later life.

Get the correct equipment. Just as you would not take a Mini Cooper into a F1 race, the incorrect equipment can hamper your chances of success. eSports is a sport of nanoseconds, and, equipment that is outdated or not of the proper standard can be the difference between winning or losing. Even having the proper equipment while you are travelling to or from competitions is important as you do not want to miss the opportunity for every possible opportunity for training.

Find the right team. Once you have established yourself on an amateur level as a competitive gamer, find the club that treats you as a true professional gamer. Do not go to the clubs that offer 'flash', that is, equipment and other freebies. Look for the club that offers a salary and meets with the legal requirements of such. Remember, this is your career and you need cash on the table. You cannot eat gifts, hard-drives and such, you need cash to pay for your living expenses. A club/clan/team that does not pay a salary is not a professional team, it is merely a bunch of amateur players who think that they are professionals. Also, choose a team that is close to you if it is a team game that you are playing as you will need to practice together.

Enter tournaments. As soon you get your gaming equipment, start playing in LAN championships. Sure you will lose at first, but the championships are a good way of preparing you mentally for those big games and for you to develop your big match temperament (BMT). Keep a book with you, and at the end of every game write down what you did right, what you did wrong, as well as how you feel you could have done better. Play as many LAN championships as you can as you will build up a reputation of being dutiful and passionate about the game you play.

Get sponsored. In all sports, athletes benefit from sponsorship. Many years ago I had the privilege of working with Corrie Sanders, and even though the prize-money that boxers win puts gaming to shame, Corrie still made sure that he was sponsored by reputable companies. To get a proper sponsorship, you can do it yourself, or you can go to an accredited sports agent.

Gaming can be a legitimate career path for those who are serious about it, but gaming is still in its embryonic stages in South Africa, so it will be hard, but it can be done!

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