What Does it Take to be an Esports Player?

by Phirex

Becoming a top esports player is now the dream for many people from around the world.

In recent years, esports have become increasingly mainstream, with prize pots for tournaments rising as they gain more interest from the public, as well as legitimacy from the wider world.

Many esports players now make even more money than professional athletes, with the top tournaments worth millions of dollars to the winners.

In fact, esports players such as Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf have become instant millionaires thanks to winning a single esports event.

Giersdorf, who was just 16 at the time, was the last man standing from 40 million entrants into the first ever Fortnite World Cup last year, scooping the $3 million top prize.

So with that in mind, what does it take in order to become a successful esports player?

Hard work, dedication – and plenty of talent

Sinatraa holding a microphone
Sinatraa stepped away from Overwatch – Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Lots of people underestimate just how much training is needed to make it in esports.

The best players practice on their chosen game for many hours a day, treating it just like it is a full-time job. Sitting down in front of a screen for hours at a time is more gruelling than it seems and a lot of esports players have suffered from being burned out as a result.

Even when players are not gaming themselves, they may be watching streams of other stars to pick up some tips.

Being completely dedicated to esports is a must for anyone who wants to make it to the top. As a result, it is not uncommon for elite players to walk away, or to switch esports, when they tire.

As an example, the 2019 Overwatch World Cup champion Jay “Sinatraa” Won has stepped away from playing Overwatch with the San Francisco Shock to take up Valorant instead. 

And earlier in the year, Dota 2 player Johan Sundstein quit the game despite making nearly $7 million out of his esports career. The gamer, known as N0tail, won back-to-back titles at The International with his esports team, OG.

Some talent is needed to make it as an esports professional too, of course. Rapid reflexes are a must for some of the leading esports that do not require as much strategy.

This is partly why the best esports players tend to be young and it is quite rare to see older esports professionals.

Life as a professional esports player

A typical esports player might practice for as many as eight to 10 hours a day, so achieving a work-life balance is understandably going to be very difficult.

Lots of esports teams lived together in shared houses, which means it can be hard to make friends or build romantic relationships away from the esports industry.

Sleep can be a big issue too as many esports teams and professionals practice late into the night. Life as an esports professional is nowhere near as glamorous as some might think.

While there is the chance to travel to esports events around the world, the reality is not as fun as it might appear. The best esports players spend a lot of time hanging around in airports and hotels, away from their friends and family, which can be quite an isolating way to live their life.

Can I make it as an esports player?

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Making it as an esports player takes a lot of dedication – Credit: Unsplash

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that relatively few gamers are able to carve out a good standard of living through becoming an esports player.

Just like in many other sports, only the elite can make it to the top and the vast majority will have to be happy with playing their favourite games on a more casual basis.

But the most talented, dedicated and hard-working have a chance to be successful in what is an increasingly competitive arena.

With millions now regularly up for grabs in esports prize money at the biggest tournaments, more and more people will be dreaming of climbing the ladder.

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