Pro gaming is on the rise. In recent years not only have eSports become more common but there is also a growing market for gamers to be able to make a living through other means such as streaming.
Although there are some overlaps, often pro gamers fall into three categories: eSports competitors, streamers, and content creators. Each area of professional gaming has its own unique challenges but many of them require very similar steps to success.
eSports has been a growing market for many years now. Games such as Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and Smite have international competitions with big prizes to be won. Many of these events are streamed on platforms such as Twitch. However, the desire to watch people play games extends far beyond watching eSports tournaments.
In recent years, game streamers and content creators have been on the rise as more and more gamers tune in to watch other people play the content they love. However, there are so many channels on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer that it can be difficult to stand out in what is now a vast crowd.
Pro gaming definitely has its downsides, especially with trolls and other nastiness that you always find online, but it's also much more accessible than it used to be. So how do you unlock your gaming potential?
These 25 tips can help you rise from the ashes to become the next Ninja.
26 Set A Schedule And Stick To It
Scheduling is vital for all levels of pro gamer. Those who wish to go into eSports will need to have a training schedule. Your training is game practice, research, and strategy discussions with teammates if needed. All these have to be kept up if you want to enter the big leagues.
For content creators and streamers having a regular schedule for streaming or uploading helps your audience grow. If your viewers know when to expect your content, then they will be more likely to seek it out. It is often more beneficial to have a consistent 1 or 2 videos or streams a week schedule than a haphazard system. Algorithms like consistency and so do audiences.
25 Build An Online Profile
As well as good branding on your platforms it’s also important to build an online profile with social media accounts and in some cases a basic website. These allow you to showcase yourself and your skills to the wider community.
An online profile can be a vital tool for many other things, including amassing sponsors. You need to show that people are interested in what you are doing. Followers on your channels can help with that as your audience can be a targeted market for a sponsor.
If you want to make money, build an audience. Social channels are especially important for entertainers as you can use them to push out notifications of new videos and streams and get them shared.
24 Get Involved In A Game's Community
Virtually all games have an online community these days. If you’re playing a game, you need to get into that network right now.
Firstly, it gets your name known. This is much easier if you are active, involved, polite, and helpful. Being known as a positive person who loves your chosen title will never be a bad thing.
Also, it will help you gauge feelings towards the game. You can use this to ensure you are producing content about aspects of the game people want to see. This is especially useful if you work with sandbox games. Knowledge is power.
23 Decide If You Want To Entertain Or Compete
One of the most important choices you need to make is to decide if you want to entertain or compete. Although some of the pathways to success are the same, many differ. Helping work out your focus will enable you to better chart your path.
You may also want to consider combining different ways of gaming to see where it takes you. Maybe you want to stream your practice sessions to build up a following or edit streams into content for video platforms.
Don’t be afraid to adjust if a platform doesn’t work or you aren’t feeling a game anymore. Being flexible is key when you are starting out.
22 Discover Different Games
A vital step to gaming success is to find a game you truly love. Start playing new games and exploring different genres. If you want to play professionally you need to love every second of the process. There are thousands of games to discover.
If you don’t love a game you started, find a new one.
Although gaming choices for eSports are more limited in the tournaments available if you are looking to stream or create content the gaming world is literally your oyster. You can play whatever you want. Find a game which excites you and it will show in your content.
21 Choose A Specific Game Or Genre
It can be good to have variety but only in certain circumstances. Many streamers and content creators do successfully manage to balance a range of games. However, it is often more beneficial to specialize in a specific game or genre. This is because gamers often have genre preferences so sticking to similar types of games, or even the same game, means you are less likely to split your audience.
eSports players will definitely need to specialize. You likely won’t get as far in tournaments if you split your time. Many professional gamers are so dedicated that they know the games they are playing inside out. If you are going down the tournament path, then you need that level of knowledge.
20 Choose A Platform
If you’re going down the content creation route, then it‘s advisable to choose one initial platform to focus on. Many content creators straddle platforms including YouTube, Twitch or Mixer, but when you’re starting out this can mean diluting your content.
Keep the crossover for when you’re established and have a solid routine in place. It takes time to get to a point where you can create content you love and are happy with — in a reasonable timescale.
Don’t rush yourself by trying to do too much, too soon.
Once you have an audience you can bring those people to another platform, just be mindful that you don’t fall foul of cross-platform promotion rules. Always check what you can and can’t do.
19 Hone Your Skills For Pro Play
It goes without saying that pro gamers need high-level skills. Anyone who gets to a top level of eSports will have spent many hours playing their chosen game. Practice makes perfect and eSports is no exception.
If you want to be a pro gamer, then you need to practice and research. Know your game inside and out. Stay on top of news and updates and live and breathe your chosen game.
Streaming and content creation are more forgiving, but having at least made sure you are aware of the basic controls of any new game will help your stream or video be far less stressful to produce.
18 Watch Others (And Absorb It All)
It can also help to watch others. Knowing your competition is extremely important for all pro gamers. eSports competitors can pick up tips and learn new tricks by seeing how others play the game. Just like in any sport knowing your opponent gives you an advantage.
If you’re a content creator or streamer then find others with the same passions as you. See what works, note what doesn’t. Don’t just carbon copy someone obviously but discover what you enjoy watching and use that knowledge to create content you’d like to see. Your channel should always reflect the real you, never someone else.
17 Chose The Right Equipment
The right equipment can make a huge difference but don’t get caught in a trap of assuming it has to be expensive. Many content creators have low budget setups, especially since you can stream directly from certain consoles.
All pro gamers will need a good quality headset or microphone.
This is your most vital piece of kit. If you record, stream, or play with muffled sound you will fail. Clear communication is vital, be it to teammates or an audience.
If you’re a pc gamer of any kind, then a must is a keyboard and mouse which suits you. Find one you are comfortable using and which offers you any macro keys you need.
16 Brand Your Channel And Yourself
The best way to keep an identifiable presence on overcrowded platforms is by good branding. It can be utilized in many ways. For example, having a recognizable channel brand and using elements of it across your video thumbnails can really help your content stand out in lists. Using the same branding on all platforms, including social media, can also help your fans find your official presence.
Personal branding also matters. People connect with people. Make sure your personality is your own and that you associate with positivity. There can be a lot of toxicity online, don’t tarnish your brand and yourself with it.
15 Don't Wait — Get Started... Like NOW!
Don’t be afraid to just start. Expect it to be scary at first but keep at it. Everyone starts somewhere, and content evolves over time.
Many big-name gamers actually hide all their old videos after a while because they don’t feel that they reflect them at their best.
So many people learn on the job.
Pro gamers also have to start somewhere. You won’t hit the big leagues overnight so start small and work your way up. Persistence is key whichever area of gaming you are in.
14 Set Goals
Setting goals can really help you to stay motivated and on track. For eSports competitors, these could take the form of specific competitions you want to prepare for or getting ready for tournaments you wish to enter. You may even set a target of a specific place you’d like to come.
The type of goal doesn’t actually matter.
Content creators may wish to set goals based around content production (or based around numbers). You could also look at goals related to specific targets, like achieving partnership on a platform.
The point of this exercise is to ensure you have something to focus on. In order to achieve your ambitions, you need to set goals and hit them to map out your path. Stay on track by regularly reviewing and revising your goals.
13 Team Up (And Learn To Communicate As A Unit)
If you’re going down the pro gamer route and are choosing a team game, then surrounding yourself with the best people is vital. In professional team games, you need to work as a cohesive unit. Ensure you find people who are like-minded and have the same ambitions as you.
Even in streaming and content creation if you want to make content that involves a team then choose the right one. Who you play with is a reflection on yourself so make sure you make smart choices. You’ll be spending a huge amount of time with these people in stressful situations. Make sure your teams' foundations are rock solid.
12 Know Your Audience (And Give Them What They Want)
This is especially important with those in the entertainment stream of pro gaming but does apply to everyone. Know your audience. Take note of who is watching and ensure you keep your content appropriate.
Often you may find that the audience you expected to find is not the one you have. It’s important to figure out who you are appealing to and why. This will help you tailor your content to those who are enjoying it.
Watch your comments and stream chat and use that feedback. Let your audience guide you and help you to adjust, adapt and grow.
11 Think Before You Speak (Seriously, This Is Common Sense)
Whatever your gaming niche there’s nothing more off-putting than someone with a bad attitude. There are places for all kinds of gamers in this world and not all of them will be squeaky clean. You don’t have to be a non-swearing, clean living guru to produce quality content but maintain some standards.
Certain conduct is just plain uncalled for.
Hate speech is not only a bad idea, but it can lead to disastrous consequences for your gaming career. Although some very high-profile names may seem on the surface to be able to ride out these controversies, many more gamers lose money, viewers, streamers, and partnerships for such slip-ups. Just think before you speak.
10 Do Your Research
Every aspect of pro gaming requires research. All that differs is the type of research you do.
eSports competitors need to research everything about their chosen game. From understanding how all the different classes or characters work to being aware of upcoming changes, you need to be on top of the gaming news. You also need to know about any leagues or tournaments you can access.
Content creators also need to research. Find out what games in your chosen genre are doing well and how you can tap into that potential audience. It’s also good to research opportunities you may be able to access to grow your audience or revenue, such as partnership programs.
9 Join A League (People Do Check The Stats)
To be an eSports champion you need to compete. Once you have a team and a plan you need to hit the leagues. Head over the websites for your chosen game and start entering tournaments. Everyone starts somewhere but if you can prove you have the skills then you can go further.
Start playing and winning.
Climbing the leagues shows others what your teams made of and winning a league begins with entering one. Go play and check out your competition. Competing against other gamers looking to go far will help you work out any errors in your competitive gameplay.
8 Check The Age Limits
These days gamers are starting younger and younger. There is no doubt a wealth of young talent out there but ensure you’re aware of all gaming age restrictions.
Streaming platforms, social media, competitions, leagues and even games themselves mostly all have age limits. If you’re a young gamer, please ensure you aren’t competing or streaming underage.
It’s good practice to ensure that you always meet the terms and conditions of the platforms you are using or the tournaments you are joining this includes meeting any minimum age requirements.
If you’re underage don’t jeopardize your career by lying. Keep practicing and wait until you’re old enough to compete legally.
7 Collaborate (People Love Seeing Their Favorites Together)
Collaborations can have mutual benefits. This applies mostly to streamers or content creators but practically all collaboration has advantages.
Very few people watch only 1 or 2 content creators, most viewers will have a list of channels they go between. Collaborating with someone else, playing a game you both love, can help boost both your audiences.
Don’t be afraid to ask to collaborate, even if you feel unworthy.
Find an idea, lay out a plan and ask, politely. The worst someone can say is no. Just make sure if they do decline you thank them for their consideration and move on. Don’t harass, be polite and collaborations will come.
6 Compete In LAN Tournaments
A good step up for pro gamers in training, LAN tournaments can give you a taste of competing in live events. Some even offer places for winners to progress to other leagues. A well-played LAN tournament can be a gateway to bigger things.
Start looking locally and then you can see how your gameplay fares in an environment where there are distractions and displays. Of course, you may not be able to compete with your ideal team due to location restrictions, but LAN competitions are definitely worth pursuing.
Being able to game under different conditions is vital to progression in eSports. LAN gaming can help you really figure out how to play under pressure and in an unfamiliar environment.
5 Network (Rip It Off Like A Band-Aid)
You need to get your name out there. Not just in your gaming community, but in the wider gaming industry. Make sure you’re making yourself visible to people who matter.
Conventions and events for your chosen game can be a great way to introduce yourself to the people who are making your chosen game as well as fans of the content.
Always remember to be polite.
It’s amazing how many people can be aggressive, angry and inconsiderate, even when they need something. Make it easy for people to work with you. Be kind, respectful and courteous. If you’re easy to work with people will be more inclined to do so.
4 Build A Connection To Others
A strong community is key to success. Remember that your success is not dependent on others failure, especially in streaming and content creation. You don’t always have to be at the top to win. It’s great to get up high and bring others up alongside you.
Building connections and relationships with others in your field can help you build up a mutual support network. If you’re well respected and well-liked by your peers that goes far in this industry.
You also need to seek to build good relationships with and in your own fan community. Make sure you’re growing a group of respectful gamers and you’ll be noticed for the right reasons.
3 Seek Sponsorship
If you’re at the stage where you want to seek sponsorship make sure you do it in the right way. You’d be amazed how many people are rude or arrogant when approaching sponsors.
Have some statistics about your gaming, socials, and channels. Whichever gaming path you take sponsors what to know who’ll be watching you. You need to ensure you can tell them who your audience are and why they’re a good match to the sponsor.
Above all be polite, courteous and don’t harass anyone. Some you win and some you lose. Be gracious in rejection as well as acceptance and always thank people for their time. Common courtesy doesn’t go unnoticed.
2 Don't Be Afraid To Adjust
As you venture down the pro gaming path you may find certain things that just don’t work for you. Maybe the streaming schedule is not maintainable or your love for your chosen game is now lacking.
Don’t be afraid to adjust and try something new. For the vast majority of entertainers pivoting if something doesn’t work is the best way forward.
If something isn't right for you, try something else.
If you’re a pro gamer sometimes a change of team, swap to a different league or a new approach is needed. Don’t just repeat something that doesn’t work and expect a different result. Accept, adjust and find a new path.
1 Look After Your Health
This is the most important tip in the entire list and one every pro gamer needs to follow. Look after your health.
I’ve seen a huge rise lately in mental health issues especially among pro gamers, particularly streamers or content creators. Often this is caused by being burnt out and exhausted.
Many pro gamers start out as part-time, maintaining a job alongside their gaming activities.
Working and creating can take a huge toll on your health.
If you’re suffering physically or mentally the best thing to do is take a break and seek help from friends, family and your doctor.
You can keep fans informed via social media, through a quick vlog or post. People will understand. If you push too hard the consequences will be much more severe.