How to become a professional gamer

Becoming a professional gamer is no longer a dream. It’s a reality.

Or it can be, if you take the right steps.

Pursuing professional gaming can mean either training to become an e-sports champion, or curating a following of viewers.

These two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive from one another: many e-sports players also put content out for their followers and vice versa, but often this only happens once they’ve made progress in their chosen field.

There’s potential to encounter fame and fortune through professional gaming. However, becoming a pro takes time and effort. Despite this, making it can still come down to the luck of the draw.

We can’t promise that you’ll succeed, but with this guide you may be able to swing the odds in your favour. Here’s how you can start your professional gaming career right now…

Choose your game, genre or style

Whether you’re aiming for the competitive scene or Twitch stardom, finding your niche is a good place to start.

To maximise their potential performance, most competitive gamers tend to dedicate themselves to a single game. Others sometimes jump between games within the same genre. For example, Justin Wong (aka JWong) plays several popular tournament fighting titles, while e-sports legend Tom Ryan (aka Ogre2) played games from both the Halo and Call of Duty series until his retirement in 2016.

You may already have an idea of what your chosen game/genre could be. Perhaps you’re a regular on Dota 2 servers or enjoy winning several games of Overwatch every night.

We advise that you pick from the existing pool of popular e-sports titles, as it will be easier to find followers and sponsors.

Popular genres and games:

  • RTS (Real Time Strategy): Starcraft II, Warcraft III
  • FPS (First Person Shooter): Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Overwatch, Call of Duty series
  • Fighting: Super Smash Bros. Melee, Street Fighter series, Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena): League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm
  • Digital Card Games: Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering Arena
  • Sports: FIFA series, Madden series, NBA 2K series

If you’re more interested in streaming and content creation, choosing a game or genre may still be a good idea. Streamers, such as the well-known Fortnite player Tyler Blevins (aka Ninja), almost exclusively play one game. Viewers can be enticed through a single interest and will often stay there if content appears regularly.

You should also consider creating a unique on-screen personality or style. The world of streaming and content creation is a competitive one, so standing out from the crowd can be tricky. Think about what you like to play and why should people watch you.

A League of Legends gaming session in progress
Copyright © Riot Games

Organise a gaming and streaming schedule

Once you know what you’re going to play and how you’re going to play it, it’s time to get organised.

It will take time to become an established professional gamer. And as the saying goes; time is money. Planning your schedule can help you be more efficient and get you on the right track to progress.

Professional gamers at their peak often play for around 8 hours a day, essentially making it a full-time job. At this stage, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do the same. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so put aside some time each day to practise playing and learning. As you improve, you may want to up this time.

For streamers and content creators, scheduling may be even more important. Most viewers enjoy receiving a regular supply of content, especially when they know it’ll be at a certain time or on a set day. If you’re streaming, make a schedule and communicate it with your viewers so they know when they can catch you. If you’re creating content, share which days viewers can expect you to update your channel. Doing this will not only keep you organised; it will also maintain and grow your viewership.

Look for e-sports and streaming advice everywhere

Do not be afraid to seek advice. From everyone and anyone around.

The community of e-sports players and content creators/streamers is a large and outspoken one. Whilst you may occasionally encounter some negativity, many online gamers will be willing to help.

As a competitor, you’ll want to integrate yourself into the community of your chosen game or genre, particularly those sub-groups which contain players who are good at the game or want to be good at the game. Peruse the right Reddit pages, join the right forums, and message other gamers you play with for advice. You can even post footage of your play style and ask for feedback on how to improve.

If you’re visiting tournaments, either to compete or spectate, observe gamers playing and ask for tips. You should be doing your own research, either by watching top players or learning techniques. Supplementing this with direct advice should help.

As a content creator/streamer, you should also be observing what others are doing to gain followers. What games or gaming genres appear in the most popular channels? Are they utilising social media? Interacting with others on their platform? Putting out certain videos? Do your research, ask for advice from successful streamers, and you’ll keep learning.

A pro gamer spec desktop PC set up with dual monitor display, headset, gaming keyboard and mouse

Build a professional gamer spec PC or console workstation

Becoming a pro gamer should be viewed as embarking upon a career, regardless of whether you’re doing it full-time or part-time. As such, you should equip yourself with the right tools for the job. You don’t want to be held back by anything.

What are you planning to play? Which platform is it on? What equipment will you need for streaming and recording?

Other than your chosen platform (Is your PC up to scratch? Do you have the newest edition of your console?) the most important upgrade you’ll need to consider is your broadband connection. While download/upload speeds are important, the key factor will be to ensure that your connection is consistent, reliable and doesn’t suffer with significant latency.

If you’re going to play competitively, the resilience and performance of your connection can make the difference between winning and losing. A poor connection will introduce slowdown, stuttering, even connection drops. In a game requiring split-second timing like CS:GO or Street Fighter, this can be fatal.

The importance of reliable broadband also applies to video streamers. You don’t want your viewers to leave or unfollow your channel because of consistently low video resolution, buffering on the upstream link or disconnections.

Also, consider your gaming peripherals. For example:

  • a good headset / mic will help you to communicate clearly with teammates, competitors and the audience;
  • depending on the game, if you use a desktop PC you may want to configure your set up to include a second monitor;
  • when it comes to fighting games, some players may opt for a traditional-style arcade stick, rather than a console-style gamepad, due to the responsiveness and accuracy when registering inputs.

Find a reason to keep gaming!

Try focusing on small goals to start with. Setting yourself achievable aims will help you to feel like you are making progress!

Try some of the following as your introductory goals:

  • Learn a new technique and use it consistently by a set deadline
  • Win X number of matches within a specific time-window
  • Challenge X number of gamers one-on-one or in tournaments
  • Place at position X in a tournament.

Once you’re able to excel at these, you can move on to bigger goals: e.g. coming first in a LAN tournament, beating an international champion, or getting accepted into a new league.

Target-setting is also important for streaming and content creation. To keep yourself motivated, cut your goals for followers and views into digestible chunks. It’s very easy to feel hopeless if it looks like you’re not getting anywhere because you haven’t attracted the number of followers or views you wanted. Being positive about your achievements and surrounding yourself with supportive people can help to fight these negative feelings.

Create a professional gamer profile

Regardless of whether you competitive gaming or content creation, having a large following is a good thing.

While cultivating a following could be seen to be more relevant to streaming and content creation – sponsorship opportunities will rarely consider you if you don’t have a decent following – having fans in the e-sports community can bring its own benefits, both mentally and monetary.

As a competitive gamer, you’ll find that followers will only start flocking to you once your reputation reaches a certain level. Performances at popular tournaments will help get your name out there, especially if you win against a well-known opponent. Otherwise, networking is everything: interact with the community, get to know its celebrities, and be a personality the online community can get behind.

In terms of streaming and content creation, your online profile is the foundation of your success. Creating a recognisable personality and growing your community are the two major steps to becoming this type of professional gamer. The key is to interact with your viewership; find out what they enjoy and what they don’t enjoy about your content, as well as where and how they find it. Doing this, alongside regular requests for shares on social media and subscriptions, should help you to develop a devoted following.

An audience of gaming fans watch a live esports event in a stadium arena

Get out there and play games like a pro!

Communities aren’t only online. Despite its reputation, being a professional gamer can be a very social career, depending on how you approach it.

Playing competitively inevitably means taking part in tournaments, and although many of these will be online, there are just as many local ones. Attending tournaments doesn’t just give you the chance to play and observe other gamers; it also helps with networking.

Attending events and meeting like-minded gamers can lead to opportunities like forming teams, joining leagues, and attracting sponsors. Remember to put your best foot forward at these events, as you’ll be representing your entire team alongside your own professional profile.

As for streamers and content creators, there are plenty of ways to grow your profile and community outside the recording studio. For example, there are conventions specifically designed for content creators, like VidCon, where you can meet others in the industry and learn more about what you do. Otherwise, there are gaming conventions such as E3 and EGX where you can mine for content ideas and build further contacts.

In other words, don’t be shy! Jump into networking and you’ll experience the benefits in due course.

 

There’s a lot that can be said about becoming a professional gamer, but we’re not here to overload you with information. With this advice, you should be able to get started on the road to success. You may even wish to come back here for a refresh once you’re winning national tournaments and garnering millions of views! This resource is here whenever you need it.

In the meantime, why not check out how Ghost can boost your competitive edge? To find out how our specialist gaming broadband solution can help to make you a winner, visit our main page or drop us a line.

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