Turn your favorite hobby into a career
League of Legends, DotA 2, CS: Go, Hearthstone—each of these games are actually competitive e-sports with hundreds of thousands of fans, a handful of world-renowned athletes and millions in prize money year after year. The idea of stadiums packed with people who watch other people play video games may be odd to some, but those people are still stuck in the early 2000s. It’s 2016 and e-sports is big. And you—you want a piece of that glory and esteem, and a way to finally put your hundreds of hours logged on to DotA 2 to good use. Here’s how to start your journey.
Choose your E-sport
Most players simply play whatever game they like best but for a professional player, money and security are also a concern. League of Legends offers a stable salary to its pro players, while DotA 2 can entice players with its enormous prize pools. You also want to devote your hours to a game that you know will still be in style a few years from now. Many pro players are still tentative about whether they should start focusing on their Overwatch skills because the competitive scene for the game hasn’t been solidly established yet. Many pro-players are capable of switching from game to game as needed by their careers, though most are limited by genre and the hours you put into a specific game are still an investment that needs to pay off.
Play A LOT
You may think you already play a lot of Hearthstone on your phone, but professional play is a whole other level. In the months leading up to a big tournament, it’s common for e-sports teams to rent out a house or apartment for all the players to stay at so they can just game from sunrise to sunset. This will involve testing out different strategies as a team, even against other pro teams (these are called “scrims”). There is only so much playing you can do before you reach the mechanical ceiling of pro play. E-sports are more about tactics rather than sheer physical aptitude, so the bulk of your practice hours must be spent learning and testing every possible strategy.
Climb the Ladder
Most e-sports nowadays feature some sort of ladder or ranking system for its players. When you continue to win your games, you climb the ladder and get better ranking. The highest rankings are often in their own league where you can find pro players playing against the best amateur players. This also happens to be where e-sports teams recruit new blood. Many pro players were discovered from “pubs” or public games where they had become known for their serious skill. For DotA 2, this means achieving an MMR (Matchmaking Rating) of at least 5000, while in League of Legends the equivalent is the Challenger League.
Win Some Games
Once you’re up there and considered as one of the best, it’s time to start winning games that matter. Even if you’re only a part of a small local team or manage to be shortlisted as a stand-in for a bigger team, nothing will validate your spot at the top more than being involved in victories. This means joining LANs or tournaments organized at specific venues where players play face-to-face, or even tournaments hosted online. In the Philippines, there are many places to start: DotA 2 has Mineski’s National Cyber Collegiate League (NCCL), while LoL has Garena’s LoL Collegiate League (LCL). Games like Hearthstone and CS:Go have large Facebook communities where tournaments are posted.
Once you’re at the top, don’t expect to rest: it’s more playing and winning on a competitive scale you’ve never experienced before. Teams have a high turnover rate and the competition is as fierce as in any sport. On the other hand, with endorsement deals and prize winnings, you’ll be living the sweet life off of playing your favorite game and be considered a celebrity by fans of the game. Sure beats a day job doesn’t it?
Start your E-Sports career and play now.