Want to be a pro-gamer in SA? Here's how

Gaming. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Gaming. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Professional gaming in South Africa is a slow process and only hard work will see deserving gamers rising to the top, says a local industry body.

As internet speeds in SA improve with the deployment of fibre broadband, pro-gaming may become a viable career option.

“Of course you must enjoy it if you want to get the most out of it, but it is all about hard work, and like anything else, there will be the moments when you have been knocked to the ground and when you wonder why you are even doing it,” Colin Webster, general secretary of Mind Sports South Africa told Fin24.

READ: Telkom launches R1m prize for SA gamers

He said that SA gamers wanting to turn pro have to do a number of things to make sure they have long term careers.

Here are Webster’s top tips for being a professional gamer:

1. Pick your game carefully

“Picking a game is the first important step. You should be almost blinkered in choosing your game, and when you play it, you should learn as much as possible about the game that you have chosen,” he said.

He added that even recreational games should test the same skill set as the chosen professional game.

“The game that you choose should also be a game that is played on an international level. There is no point in choosing a game that is only played within a small group, or one that will be redundant within 12 months as you will then be limiting your own earning potential.”

2. Long road

“So many people entering gaming choose the short-road that offers what appears to be quick returns. This is the wrong approach as the quick returns are often not substantial nor sustainable,” said Webster.

He cited the example of gamer Robert "PandaTank" Botha, the first SA gamer to earn a salary for playing.

“PandaTank, instead of going to play in the DGC competition at rAge in 2011 and 2012, he went to MSSA National Team Trials. By forgoing the quick-fix of the limited prize money, PandaTank was able to compete in the 3rd & 4th IeSF World Championships in South Korea where he was noticed. By being noticed at such a level thus allowed him to fly to the USA, France, and Sweden.”

3. Stay motivated

“There are contractual obligations in terms of guest appearances, the number of championships that you have to play as well as even in what position you finish in said championships. Then you will have to face the critics which will range from your own family through to friends, bloggers and journalists,” said Webster.

4. Practice

“Nothing must come between you and your practice, not your friends not a good night out, not a birthday, nothing! In the practice sessions you must draw up a schedule for improving you reaction speed, knowledge of the game, knowledge of the maps, how others play the game,” Webster said.

Some of the games include Defense of the Ancients (DotA 2), StarCraft II, Tekken, League of Legends and CounterStrike: GO.

5. Correct Equipment

People who wish to be pro gamers have to ensure that they have a powerful set-up that can be easily transported.

“Just as you would not take a Mini Cooper into a F1 race, the incorrect equipment can hamper your chances of success. eSports is a sport of nanoseconds, and, equipment that is outdated or not of the proper standard can be the difference between winning or losing,” Webster said.

A typical gaming PC costs between R18 799 and R22 499 from Computer Mania.

6. The right team

“Do not go to the clubs that offer 'flash', that is, equipment and other freebies. Look for the club that offers a salary and meets with the legal requirements of such. Remember, this is your career and you need cash on the table. You cannot eat gifts, hard drives and such, you need cash to pay for your living expenses,” said Webster.

“A club/clan/team that does not pay a salary is not a professional team, it is merely a bunch of amateur players who think that they are professionals. Also, choose a team that is close to you if it is a team game that you are playing as you will need to practice together.”

7. Enter tournaments

Webster said that pro gamers should enter LAN (local area network) tournaments to gain experience.

“Sure you will lose at first, but the championships are a good way of preparing you mentally for those big games and for you to develop your big match temperament (BMT).”

He also advised gamers to keep a logbook of successes and failures.

8. Sponsorship

“To get a proper sponsorship, you can do it yourself, or you can go to an accredited sports agent,” said Webster, adding that it helps athletes to be sponsored by reputable companies.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

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