What’s It Like to Be a Professional Esports Athlete?

by MaddOx
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More people are playing video games than ever before. The industry keeps going from strength to strength, with companies making record profits year after year as they find new ways such as esports to squeeze even more revenue from their titles. Some of the biggest players, such as Electronic Arts, have used this newly acquired cash to make significant acquisitions in recent years as they look to solidify their positions in the market. 

As mentioned, one of those new ways to squeeze more revenue has come in the form of esports. These are tournaments and championships that use video games as a medium of competition. Popular esports games include PUBG, DoTA 2, Call of Duty, and Hearthstone.

They have gained a lot of attention in recent years as TV networks have begun airing major events for the first time. Here in the UK, the BBC provides coverage of several leading esports competitions, including the ePremier League and the League of Legends UK League Championship. 

In 2020, esports generated more than $1 billion (£716 million) in revenue for the first time and that number looks set to grow even larger in 2021 and beyond. With it, the industry has created a new class of celebrities. One that is followed and adored by other gamers, people that appreciate the skill that these esports athletes have. 

And just like any other class of celebrities, these fans want to step into their heroes’ shoes. But what does being a professional esports athlete entail? Is it as glamorous as it seems? 

View from up in the packed stands at a League of Legends tournament

Playing and Practice

It would be many people’s dream job to be paid to play video games all day, though the reality of it may not be quite as fun and exciting as you first imagine. 

Just like a footballer or tennis player must attend training several times a week and then spend even more time in the gym, a professional gamer must spend hours honing their craft in the pursuit of the smallest edge over their competitors. 

The Russian esports athlete Daniil “Airu” Ryabkov begins his training at 12 noon each day. He starts by reviewing the previous day’s games, looking for mistakes that need fixing and other opportunities to improve. An hour later, he plays a couple of solo games as a warm-up for around two hours. 

Following this, he has lunch before sitting down for up to six hours of team training that finishes at 10 pm. It’s still not over then though. He and his team will discuss what went on in the training session for half an hour, have dinner, and then begin a three-hour session of reviewing games with his coach that can run until 2 am. 

Esports Suite that many Female Esports Players use

Sport and Exercise

Although an esports athlete doesn’t need to be in peak physical shape like a footballer or a cricket player, most still take time to exercise and stay fit. If your profession requires you to stay sitting at a desk or table for hours on end, it can put a lot of strain on your body. 

Playing a sport, doing yoga, or partaking in some other form of exercise can help reduce this strain. There’s no right or wrong choice though and it comes down to personal preference. There are quite a few poker players that like to practice golf, while Lynnie “artStar” Noquez, a Counter-Stike player, has a regime of stretches that she includes in her daily schedule to prevent injuries while competing. 

Professional Streaming Setup with mic, keyboard, headset, monitor and PC

Media Appearances and Live Streams

If hours of gruelling practice isn’t enough to put you off wanting to become an esports athlete, spending even more time taking part in live streams and other media appearances might. 

Many of the biggest celebrities in professional gaming also have large followings on social media and streaming sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. By having such big audiences, gamers can charge advertisers and sponsors a lot of money to promote their products and services during broadcasts. 

To build and maintain these followings, they must spend several hours playing games while on camera, reacting to events in the game, interacting with viewers, and generally being entertaining. 

Even the most extroverted extroverts are going to find this tiring after a while, so this responsibility can become a big chore for some professional gamers. 

This is very similar to the commitments of other professional athletes, who may have to give regular media interviews, appear at press days for sponsors, and partake in other promotional activities that allow them to earn more from their fame. 

Overall, being an esports athlete may be a great opportunity for the most talented gamers. But this comes with a lot of responsibility to maintain their playing abilities through hours of training, a sports and exercise regime, and interacting with fans.

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