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How To Become A Professional Esports Player

How To Become A Professional Esports Player

 Having the opportunity to compete and play your favourite game as a professional esport athlete may sound like a dream come true. However, becoming a professional esport athlete is one of the most difficult and competitive career choices you can make. The good news is you can start competing at many different levels and still have fun and learn valuable skills before having to make the decision to step up to a professional level.

Mastering The Game

To become a professional esports player, the first step is to become one of the best at the game you wish to compete in. Depending on the game, that means playing in the first division and being ranked amongst the top players. You won’t achieve this overnight, but you can achieve this much faster by focusing on improving in specific ways and becoming a better player overall.

Practicing with Intent

When sitting down to game, it can be extremely tempting to sit back, relax and zone out. In esports coaching we call this playing on autopilot. You can play for hours on end on autopilot and not improve at all. Autopilot is something you need to consciously avoid if you want to improve your game.

Practicing with intent is when you can identify very specific areas of your game you want to improve on and focus on solely improving that area. The two generic areas you will want to focus on are either Mechanical or Strategic.

Master Mechanics

Mechanics are techniques, skills, or processes that you can control to help set yourself up for success or to outplay your opponent. The first thing you need to do to master the mechanics of a game is to identify what the important mechanics are, and then set yourself goals on what you should be able to achieve.

For example, in a game such as League of Legends or Dota2 a mechanic is last hitting (or CSing). If you watch professional matches, you will identify that most professional players can consistently achieve 90-100 CS in the first ten minutes of the match. With this knowledge, you can now play the game and focus on meeting that standard of gameplay.

Other tools such as practice tools, or sandbox modes can also be a great place to focus on specific mechanics without having to worry about the entire game length or other game distractions.

Master Strategy

Strategy is the ability to constantly be aware of the overall game state and actively make decisions to give you or your team a greater chance of success. Mastering strategy can be much more difficult as it’s not always as obvious as a mechanic to identify.

Even if you mastered a mechanic like the ability to skirmish, last hit, or controlling the spray on a weapon, having a strong grasp on strategy is understanding why to skirmish, last hit or pull the trigger and its impact on the greater game state.

While mechanics are developed by active practice, strategy is generally best acquired through an in-depth knowledge of the professional game. Watching top players, analysing how they play and understanding what decisions make them successful.

You can never be too young to begin honing your skills and developing your best practice habits. We often see teenagers becoming professional esports players. So, it’s clear that with a certain amount of practice, anything’s possible if you have the right attitude.

To be a professional esports player you need to be able to compete with the world’s best and do what they do. The good news is that many esports have been around for more than 10 years. You have plenty of resources at your disposal. You can study the games of great players, get coached, and reach a high level relatively quickly.

Making a name

After you’ve reached a high level of mechanical and strategic competence, you need to make yourself known in the esports world. Your goal should be to compete as much as you can. Esports organizations are always on the hunt for talented players. But they’re unlikely to find you among the hundreds or even thousands of other high-rank competitors who have not yet made a name for themselves.

To start building your reputation in the esports world, there are a few things you can do such as joining your school team, joining a local esports club and competing in regional tournaments, form your own team, and/or participate in private tournaments. When you feel you are ready to compete on the professional level, send your CV to prominent esport organisations, or try to make friends with established pro players who might be able to recommend you to a team.

Forming Your Own Team

Confucius said, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” and the same applies for esports. You want to do your best to surround yourself with players who are better than you so you can constantly improve. It’s important to still have fun with your friends but It’s hard to reach the peak of your esport without having a list of skilled friends. And some of them may have the same goal as you. If you’re fortunate enough to connect with skilled players who you are compatible with, propose to them to form a team together and start competing in open qualifiers and small tournaments.

Joining An Existing Team

If you’re a regular player in high-rank pub games, a lot of people have probably heard about you. And if you’re known to have a consistently great attitude and solid skills, some of these people are likely to invite you to play with them. Take your chances and make the best of them.

Develop a good attitude and emotional fortitude

Something that often goes understated in the world of esports is the importance of emotional fortitude and a good attitude. Both of these things are absolutely critical when it comes to the world of esports and we’ve seen time and time again some of the most mechanically and strategically talented players ever dropped from the professional scene due to their attitudes. When you spend a lot of time with someone and know that you’re about to go through good and bad times together, you really want to be surrounded by people who know how to accept a defeat and learn from it. Professional esport players spend almost more time together than any other professional level sport and having the ability to contribute to a positive environment and maintain moral is critical.

Instead of blaming others for a loss, accept defeat and ask yourself, “Even though this wasn’t my fault, what could I have done to improve the situation?”. Even though some things are out of your control, you always have the choice on how to react and what you can learn from a situation.

If somebody is being toxic or abrasive, don’t let it get to you. Remind yourself that it is just a passing moment, feel the emotions and let them move on into the past. Reacting will only encourage toxic players and trolls.

If you sometimes like to BM or throw out some cheeky comments in game, just Toxic players, even if they’re good, often get neglected because of this. Everyone anticipates that they’ll ruin the atmosphere.

Sending Your CV

If you try to contact important organisations, treat this as a job application. Ask yourself: what would convince people that I have the right skills? Send them a portfolio with some of your games, snapshots of your profile statistics, and a list of accomplishments in small tournaments, if you have any. And simply ask for a trial.

The Best New Zealand Esports Players

If you want to learn more about how to become a professional esports player, try contacting one or more of these top New Zealand players who have already succeeded in this endeavour.

  • Sean “Gratisfaction” Kaiwai (CS:GO)
  • Abdullah “Parpy” Khudeish (Fortnite)
  • Cameron “Kamii” Ingram (Rocket League)
  • Kainen “Swiftazor” Kini (Call of Duty)
  • Mackenzie “Petraeus” Smith (StarCraft 2)

You can find a list of the top 100 New Zealand esports players here.

One of New Zealand’s Top Players Shares His Experience

To get a better understanding of how young people become professional esports players, we talked to one of the best League of Legends players in New Zealand. His name is Ari Greene-Young, better known as “Shok”. If you follow LCO (League of Legends Circuit Oceania) and have watched Dire Wolves in action, you probably know him a little bit. Here’s what he had to say regarding his own career and the process of becoming a professional esports player.

When did you start playing League of Legends?

I started playing League of Legends at the end of 2014.

How long did it take you to reach the top rank as an amateur?

I reached Master tier at the end of 2015, and I was top 10 challenger at the end of 2016.

How long did it take you to start playing professionally? I assume it took a while to get noticed after you’ve become a pub star on your chosen server.

I started playing professionally in mid 2017, 2 months after I turned 17 and I was eligible to play. Honestly it doesn’t take that long to get noticed if you impress people on the ladder or consistently hold a high rank throughout the year.

Is there a big difference between training on your own, as an aspiring pro player, and training with a professional team?

Yes, solo queue is very different from scrims. Also in scrims the improvement will be focused mainly on working as a team rather than individual skill which you can train more easily from solo queue. That being said the skill level is generally higher in professional teams so you may learn more from playing against those players anyway.

Do you have any advice for aspiring pro players in New Zealand and Australia? Assuming I’m doing great as an amateur, should I start my own team or try to contact one of the existing ones?

The most important thing is being highly ranked in solo queue. If you are consistently 1000 LP or above it won’t be long until you get contacted by an LCO team. Advice I would also give is that if you do want to be a pro player it’s because you love it, there are far easier and more lucrative ways to find success even within esports. The path to pro can be very challenging and even as a pro player the experience is very hard mentally a lot of the time, and if you don’t have that love for the game it’s unlikely you will be able to stick with it.


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