The eSports industry is booming. Even throughout a global pandemic where other businesses struggled, there was a global revenue of $950 million.
eSports players who compete in the biggest tournaments and do well can expect prize money in the millions. This is besides the lucrative streaming careers many of them enjoy.
All this to say, if you’re thinking about starting an eSports career, it’s a great choice for many. However, it is a highly competitive industry, so we’ve got some great tips to help you get ahead of the pack.
Becoming an eSports Player
For most people, the love of gaming and glory is what drives them into an eSports career. So while becoming an eSports player is by no means the only career in eSports (more on this later!), it’s what many people dream of doing.
It’s good to be realistic about the reality of this career, and this includes the eSports career earnings. Many see the huge sums that can be won at tournaments and assume it’s like that for everyone — but it’s not the case.
It’s so difficult to get a good estimate on what eSports players make for a number of reasons. First, the level the player is at makes a huge difference. When first starting out at the amateur level, earnings will be significantly less than at a professional level.
In addition, eSports players have a variety of income streams. If they play individually, much of their income will be reliant on prize money, which can vary massively. Many eSports players also have sponsorship deals, social media accounts, and stream on platforms like Twitch.
Top eSports streamers can expect to make around $5,000 a month from streaming. However, this definitely isn’t the case for many eSports streamers, and many are more around the $1,000 a month mark.
eSports players who play as a team will make additional income from this, but sacrifice the prize money won at tournaments. It’s not a big sacrifice, though, when the average salary for a team player is $4,000 a month.
So while the earning potential at the top end of the career is substantial, it takes a lot of work to get there. However, we’ve got some tips that might help you establish yourself as an eSports player faster.
Figure Out Your Niche
It might seem as simple as picking your favorite game and playing that, but in reality, there are lots of factors to consider.
For starters, the game you choose will have significant effects on your potential earnings later down the line. So while you might love to play professional Smash Bros, the audience is smaller, and the prize pool potential will reflect that.
What you need to find then is the sweet spot of a game you’re good at and love to play that’s also popular enough to provide good potential earnings.
Prize pools went down considerably throughout the pandemic of 2020, so we’ll look to 2019 to figure out the most popular esports games based on total winnings.
The top 10 were as follows:
- Fortnite: $71.5 million
- Dota 2: $47 million
- Counter-Strike: $21.9 million
- PUBG: $11.3 million
- Overwatch: $9.5 million
- League of Legends: $9.4 million
- Arena of Valor: $7.8 million
- COD Black Ops: $6.3 million
- Rainbow Six Siege: $5 million
- Hearthstone: $4.7 million
You also need to consider longevity when making this decision. Some games go out of fashion just as fast as they appeared, while others like Dota 2 have been around for decades. That’s not to say you should avoid a game because you’re unsure of its future, but it’s worth considering while you make your decision.
Start by Streaming
Streaming is a great way to begin establishing yourself as an eSports player, as well as get some grinding hours in while you’re doing it.
You need to find the right streaming platform for your game. By this, we mean that different audiences will be on each platform. While Twitch might seem like the most obvious choice, if your game is more popular on another platform, you’ll be missing out on potential viewers.
Other popular streaming platforms to consider include Discord, YouTube Gaming, Hitbox.tv, Smashcast, and Gosu Gamers. Make sure to do your research and figure out which one is right for your game.
Don’t be disheartened when you first start streaming by staying realistic. Earning from streaming takes some time to happen. Also, you’re very unlikely to get spotted by a sponsor straight away.
Keep grinding and stay positive.
The Right Equipment
To stream or even play your chosen game in the first place, you need the right gear. This means investing in gaming pcs or laptops with the best specs to ensure your game runs smoothly.
If you’re streaming, it’s also worth looking at investing in a high-quality microphone, headset, camera, a green screen, and lighting.
You might think you’re the best at your chosen game, but it’s probably not the case. The jump from playing online at an amateur level to playing at a professional level is considerable.
Again, the key here is not to get disheartened. The best eSports players weren’t always the best eSports players. They went through the same struggle you’re about to.
Keep grinding. You will get better with practice.
Join a Team
Joining a team can help push your career forward much faster than going it alone. Established eSports teams will already have sponsors in place and be able to provide salaries.
Much of joining a team will come down to your skill, but it’s well worth researching whether teams in your chosen game are recruiting.
Go to Tournaments
Though tournaments have moved to a virtual space for the last year, prior to the pandemic, they were absolutely rammed with players, fans, and sponsors.
Even if you’re not playing in the tournament, go and network whenever you can. Talk to fans and talk to sponsors. Get your name out there.
Other eSports Career Opportunities
Though it’s the most popular career path, there are lots of other eSports careers to consider. They’re often less competitive, offer more financial security and still keep you in an industry you love. We’ll run through some of the most popular eSports careers below.
eSports attracts huge crowds now, with millions of viewers across the globe.
These huge audiences mean there’s a lot of interest in coverage of eSports news, tournaments, and so on. While mainstream journalism might be struggling, eSports journalism is thriving.
eSports journalists offer modest potential earnings if they work for another company. As a self-employed eSports journalist, while it would be harder to establish, the potential earnings are substantially more.
There are many eSports journalists who offer great analytical overviews in the form of blogs and vlogs who do very well in their chosen career.
Also known as a shoutcaster, eSports commentators have the same role as in traditional sports. They offer a play-by-play of the game as it’s happening, as well as analytical insights of the game during breaks and after it’s finished.
You’ll need to be packed full of personality and have a good understanding of the technical skill of your chosen game to be a successful commentator.
Not everyone is cut out for competitive gaming, but if you’re an expert strategist, you might make a great eSports coach.
eSports coaches lead a team. They offer individual advice to players, as well as come up with team strategies for tournaments.
A rather broad role, managers have a variety of functions within the eSports industry.
You could look into event management for tournaments. This opens up a huge amount of career opportunities due to the skills involved. You’ll need to be highly organized and have great attention to detail.
You could also look into social media management. In this role, you’d be managing the social media presence of eSports players and teams to increase their fan base and popularity.
Have you ever thought about who organizes the way events are streamed? The cameras and mics?
It doesn’t happen by magic. The production crew takes care of all these aspects. There are a huge variety of production roles available in eSports with various technical skills needed, but if you love the nuts and bolts of streaming, it could be for you.
More Career Advice
The eSports industry is an exciting and growing industry, though very competitive. While the majority of interested candidates look to become players, there are plenty of alternative eSports careers to consider.
For more career advice, check out our blog for helpful tips and great resources.