When it comes to sport, there has traditionally always been a clear line of difference between those who watch, including the most enthusiastic of fans, and those who do. As much as you enjoy watching soccer and basketball, even if you occasionally play those sports, there is always going to be an immediate disconnect between you and Lionel Messi, or you and Lebron James. That’s a line that gets blurrier, though, when it comes to eSports. eSport is perhaps unique among modern sports in that people have got into the habit of watching it from a point where they were playing rather than vice versa.
This situation is interesting because it creates a question for those of us who consider ourselves gamers. It takes about ten minutes playing soccer with friends for any of us to know that we’ll never sign for Paris St Germain. However, when you play games for fun, there is for sure less of a mountain to climb before you could realistically be playing eSports professionally. It’s true that not all of us will make the grade, but it’s also true that the bar isn’t as high as it is with other sports. So if you feel like you could play eSports at a higher level, what does the pathway look like?
Find your game
Although there have been multisport stars in the past – Carl Lewis was a great sprinter and long-jumper, Deion Sanders played pro baseball and football (almost playing both in one day once), Ian Botham was a cricketer and soccer player – they’re rare for a reason. It takes a huge amount of commitment – in time, effort and money – to reach the point of professionalism in a sport. So even if you’re pretty great at League of Legends and FIFA, you’d be best advised to choose one or the other before trying to make it as an eSports player. You’re going to need to practise even more than you have been to become elite, and there literally aren’t enough hours in the day to make that happen in mutliple games.
Find a team
There isn’t really the same infrastructure in eSports as there is in traditional sports to bring a player from “potential” to actual stardom. If you’re a great baseball player in high school, then scholarships exist to get you to the college system, where if you thrive you can enter the MLB draft and go pro. If you want to be a name people see when they bet on DotA 2, you’ll need to go to the teams yourself. You may well not have the opportunity to join the big names right away, so get yourself into communities online and stream your playing sessions. If you’re good enough, you’ll either attract the interest of big teams or you’ll help elevate a smaller one into bigger events and gain a following that way.
Find a coach
You may be good enough at a game to make it on your own, but bear in mind that eSports is getting bigger all the time, and you’re competing with more potential players than ever. If you need an extra 1%, and have the funds to make it happen, then hiring a coach can help you become a pro. You need to do some shopping to find the right one, though – anyone can pose as a coach, take your money and do little to improve your game. Check the credentials of any potential coach: a history as a pro themselves, and connections to teams that have had competitive success, should be among the things you check for.