7 1/2 Steps to Going Pro: An [e-Sports Dail-e] Special Report
So you want to be a Pro Gamer, huh? Tired of just reading about pros every day, you just want to get out there and participate, hopefully ending up as the subject of discussion for fans around the world! While this is no comprehensive guide, these steps will surely put you in the right direction.
1) Choose your game
Whether it’s Starcraft II, Super Street Fighter 4, Call of Duty, or any other game that’s played competitively, pick a game, or at least a genre and stick to it. Don’t make the mistake of some pros who claim to be “multi-genre” Pros – they don’t have the same kind of time, nor the focus, to master all of the intricacies of each game. Of course, fighting games are an exception here, as there is some carry over in techniques between games.
Above all else, ensure that you truly enjoy your game of choice! A game is always supposed to be fun, even in the heat of high level competition.
2) Practice Practice Practice and more Practice
Find any way you can to practice your game. Whether this is through just playing your friends who also are into the game, playing the game online, messing around in Training Mode, or whatever form of training you wish, it doesn’t matter - as long as you are logging time into your game of choice.
Some games, such as Starcraft 2, have training minigames built into their UI via custom maps. These can be for anything from unit control to proper building placement (or Simcity, as they call it in the SC2 community).
Another point to note about practice: Start when you are alert and keep practicing even after you get tired. Your brain will begin to pick up on strategies and reflexes automatically when you are not completely focused, leading to a greater understanding of mechanics and enhanced muscle memory. This is especially true in fighting games, where repetitive motions to pull off complex combos are key – thus being able to pull them off in clutch situations.
3) The Gear makes the Gamer
As I’ve previously reported, having the correct gear is of utmost importance to a Pro Gamer. The most important part of selecting which gear is right for you? Find a setup that you’re comfortable with. Many gamers and peripheral companies will try to tell you a certain product is paramount to success in Professional Gaming, but this is largely false – As long as you are comfortable and are finding yourself making very few execution errors due to hardware, you should be set.
Though of course, there is something to be said for having at least a mouse with 4600 DPI – this ensures precision and quick response times in PC gaming.
Definitely invest in a solid headset, one that you can wear for extended sessions without hurting your ears – difficult to tell just by looking at the package, but try to look up user reviews before you purchase them, on a site such as Newegg.com.
4) Getting your Name Out There
If you haven’t already, create a Twitter, Facebook and Google+ account specifically for your Gaming endeavors. This will give you a place to interact with your fans, and also separate your personal status updates from your more “professional” and game related updates. Your friends are a great place to start for supporters, who can actively spread the word by liking your posts, giving them a +1 or retweeting them.
Next, create yourself a Youtube page – If you have the technology, try to record yourself playing either through a capture program such as FRAPS or with a capture card such as Pinnacle’s Dazzle or Roxio’s Game Capture Device. Always add commentary or otherwise edit the video to include text if you aren’t comfortable speaking on a video just yet – no one likes to watch replays of stock game footage. Creating tutorials and other tip videos is a great way to boost your popularity.
Lastly, and this is more advanced – create yourself a Justin.tv account so you can live stream your practice sessions. You might think this is counterproductive as your rivals can study your moves, but, as you are only getting your name out there, gaining any rivals in this manner could only be productive to you – Anything that will get people talking about your name is a viable option. This is also a great way to interact with your audience as Justin.tv has a built in chat protocol – who knows, you may even get more fans this way!
Bonus. Create or Join a Team
Are you and a group of friends looking to get into competitive gaming and have some money to spare? Try creating your own team for a game, especially if your game is a game played with a team such as Call of Duty or League of Legends. You can do all of the things I listed above for personal use for your team, as well as other fun activities like making your own logos and shirts to wear to tournaments. If you are playing solo, though it’s not required, finding a team to join will help as you will always have someone that’s on or above your skill level to practice against. Good places to look for teams would be League websites such as MLG or community websites (I’ll get to that below).
Also, if you find a really high level team that you can manage to tryout for and make it on, there are other bonuses such as a base salary, and travel expenses. Though this is unlikely just starting out, it's worth noting either way.
5) Join as many communities related to your Game as possible
There are many communities that may be directly related to your game where people regularly discuss upcoming tournaments, strategies and theorycrafting pertaining to various aspects of high level play. Some examples and places to get started:
• Fighting Games: Shoryuken, IPlayWinner and Eventhubs • Mortal Kombat: Test Your Might • Starcraft 2: SCLegacy, Teamliquid • Call of Duty: MajorLeagueGaming • Super Smash Bros Melee and Brawl: SmashBoards
There are obviously many more games out there and communities for them, I just listed some of the more prominent ones in the community. A quick Google search will reveal many more for the game you’re interested in, so get to searching!
Find as many tournaments as you can and enter them. These can range from minor, local tournaments, to online tournaments (such as MLG’s Gamebattles) to majors such as MLG events or international events such as EVO. The more tournaments you enter, the more people will know who you are and about your history – people may even look for your name in tournament results and entry lists to follow you closely!
With each tournament you compete in, things like tournament pressure and procedure will be easier to deal with. As a former tournament organizer, I’ve seen many skilled players who I know can beat just about anyone fall to tournament nerves. Just remember: Breathe. Have fun. Network with your fellow competitors. As with any other social situation, no one likes a person who takes something too seriously.
7) Lastly – Keep Trying
Even if you fail at your first tournament or don’t attract as many fans as you would like, keep up with your training regimen, keep making videos to release to the community and most importantly, keep competing. No one likes a quitter and you’d be surprised how fast your name can fall off the grid if you stop.
I hope this guide is a good starting point for those looking to get into competitive gaming! What are you waiting for? The Pro Gaming world is waiting for your debut!
Dustin Steiner is GameZone’s eSports Correspondent! Follow him on Twitter @SteinerDustin