Professional Gaming: is it viable? Credit: WePlay Holding

Professional Gaming: is it viable?

Dec. 26, 2021
Education 7 min read

Most of the time, the exciting and skill-focused pros that people are talking about are the players that compete in tournaments worldwide to prove their talents.

Between the success of video games and esports, pro-gamers are single-handedly some of the most revered professionals by young adult nerds. They get to play their favorite games all day and either have a large community watching them or are winning big prizes in high-stakes tournaments. There's a lot of excitement and glamour to the whole thing.

Whether you prefer Fortnite or League of Legends, CSGO or Street Fighter, there is likely a place on the esports scene for any dedicated, talented competitive gamers who love playing.

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A professional gamer is anyone who plays games for money. This can include game testers, streamers, YouTubers, or esports professionals. Most of the time, though, the exciting and skill-focused pros that people are talking about are the players that compete in tournaments worldwide to prove their talents.

When it comes to being a pro gamer, all that really matters is that they have the reflexes and game knowledge. Where streamers need to entertain their fans and be sociable, pro players just have to focus on being talented and dedicated.

These professionals spend hours upon hours every day becoming masters at their given esport, working just as hard as traditional sports players, just in a different way. Competitive gaming is all about being the best, so your reflexes and game knowledge always need to be in top shape.

How to Join a Professional Gaming Team?

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The basics to joining professional esports teams break down into roughly three steps: practice, compete, and promote yourself.

Everyone knows practicing will help you out, but so will getting out there and putting yourself in competitions. Even local, amateur esports events are good. They force you to learn how people play in a competitive setting and learn not to crumble under the pressure of public competition.

Another possible route to join pro esports is using various team-seeking sites online. Here, talented gamers can become professional players by applying to open positions on different online teams. In addition, you can find openings from various ability levels, from top masters to gold/silver hobbyists. Some sites like Team-Seek and others can be beneficial in this.

Also, if you stream and get involved in your gaming community, you might be able to impress and make the kind of connections that get you into the pro scene. Esports athletes benefit from most forms of positive exposure, and esports organizations are aware of that.

How to Become a Pro Gamer

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Now, things in 2021 are a little more complicated. On the plus side, there are more popular esports games and unique opportunities than ever. However, in-person tournaments have weaned out some and, while large gaming events like MSI or WUFL have returned, the smaller-scale ones may take a lot longer to get going again.

Your best opportunity is to grind your game and try to make a name for yourself online. For example, recently, Cloud 9 attempted to recruit the young GeneralSn1per onto their team just because, as of June 2021, he's ranked number 1 of all NA LoL players. However, Cloud 9 had to invalidate his contract because of his age (14). Even though he has to wait some time to join the pro leagues, he streams on Twitch and keeps involved with the LoL community to keep those opportunities open. Granted, being the brother of Immortals top-laner V1per probably helps. Just like in the regular work market, a professional gamer needs to have contacts and connections, so acting nice towards the community can help professional gamers to stand out.

How to Start a Professional Gaming Team?

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If you want to be a little more hands-on in joining the pro esports world, you can always create a gaming team of your own and join esports competitions. Many gamers create their own esports team after being on the scene for a while, since it’s a good way to connect to professional gamers and make a name.

On the logistical side, you have to cover making a logo and getting into local tournaments. It also helps if you can make contacts and drum up some fundraising to get yourself into larger tournaments, too. You likely won't be Team Liquid, Astralis, or Fnatic when you start, but all pro teams in the esports industry begin somewhere, and you just have to put in the passion and hard work (and be the first-place winning team every so often).

The Professional Gamer Salary

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The kind of salary that players get from competitive video gaming is all dependent on the type of prize money they earn. The average itself is widely variable, from $12,000-$60,000 a year. This number also changes a lot depending on what game they play and their skill level. For example, DOTA 2 prize money is so impressive that a moderately good player could be earning a lot more than some top Fortnite players. After all, the 2021 International had a $40 million prize pool. Comparatively, the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals only offered $15 million.

A professional gamer can expect difficulties regarding salaries, however. It’s not an easy industry to step in to, and joining the big gaming tournaments can take years. Nevertheless, multiple games have programs, such as scholarships, to help fund those new pro gamers. Beyond the prize money from esports tournaments, a competitive gamer can have different sources of income as well.

Somewhat differently from professional athletes from traditional sports, professional gamers have the chance to earn from their content creation, their public, and fans. Joining an esports league or participating in an esports tournament can help to build that fan base, which can dramatically increase the average earnings.

Ethics and Legal Problems in Competitive Gaming

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Being such a young industry with equally young faces heading the field, esports pros and teams have run into quite a few problems navigating popularity and scandals. For example, some best-known CSGO pros have gotten in trouble with encouraging their young fans to contribute to skin-betting sites. Even worse, a handful have been accused or convicted of having financial hands in these sites. That means they were profiting off encouraging children to make poor or even devastating purchases (yikes).

Parents also have a lot of concern for the glamour of pro-gaming because it can help encourage a severe video game addiction in younger children. While addictive behavior should be dealt with individually, it is a valid new obstacle for parents to worry about.

Also, with the ever-evolving progress of modern culture and the backward and somewhat offensive history gaming culture has, quite a few pro gamers have gotten themselves in hot water. Whether it's offensive tweets or inappropriate behavior with fans, some gamers are behind on cultural etiquette and normatively. On a larger scale, Riot Games have faced criticism for their company culture towards women.

Being respectful and honorable is part of being a professional gamer. Playing video games is the main activity, but a pro gamer needs to have values, just like traditional sports. Competitive gaming can be a great way to create and shape those values, hence many colleges are into competitive sports (be it traditional or electronic). Playing games can also generate learning opportunities, which are important for any pro gamer!