Does your teen have what it takes to be a career gamer?

16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won over R42 million - playing Fortnite
16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won over R42 million - playing Fortnite

If you want to become a professional you must train: That is the reality of sport.

eSports are no different, and if your teen is using the recent $3 million Fortnite World Cup win by 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf to motivate for a more expensive PC or more game time, then perhaps it's time to put him or her to the test.

Much like physical sports like cricket and rugby, eSports also have teams built of players, coaches, analysts, management teams and so on. eSports competitors also compete across different skill levels, in local and regional competitions, and in professional global organisations.

The chance to win over R42.6 million in less than 20 minutes can prove tempting for many teens, but in reality they need to train to develop skills such as strategic thinking, quick reflexes, teamwork, collaboration, goal setting, preparation, and managing failure.

These skills can stand kids in good stead when they leave school and enter the working world. 

Also read: According to this US study, Fortnite is bigger than social media among teens and tweens

Another plus is that the eSports community provides a sense of belonging for teens who are sometimes loners or feel otherwise isolated from their peers for any number of reasons.

And then there's the lure of the big money.

Kyle Giersdorf's Fortnite win represents the largest-ever payout for a single player in an e-sports tournament, but his is only one of many, many success stories with massive payloads. 

Interestingly, each participant, even those who placed last with no points at all, took home over R700,000 just for competing in this particular event. 

So how to get a piece of this lucrative pie? 

Johannesburg-based Julia Robson is a homegrown eSports contender and spokesperson for the Predator gaming brand. 

Julia’s interest in gaming was piqued by a friend, she says, and soon became a serious hobby to indulge in while she worked towards a dentistry degree. 

"I was playing games with friends and then soon started looking out for monthly LAN parties where I could play against other gamers on a more serious platform," she explains. 

But making a living from eSports is deemed incredibly difficult, as the competition is tough with thousands of pro gamers competing internationally for a percentage of the winnings.

Although the South African industry has grown in leaps and bounds, it still has a long way to contend with other, more established gaming countries.

"Starting as a female player in a male-dominated and fiercely competitive environment has its evident challenges, but I believe that as with any industry you prove your worth based on your work ethic, abilities and skill set," says Julia, who has a passion to develop the local gaming industry.

Also read: How to know if your child is addicted to video games and what to do about it

Practice like a pro 

To be a serious contender also requires dedication and training: Julia allocates on average eight hours per day to gaming sharpening her skills.

While most school-going teens don't have this sort of time available, they can test their skills online and get a feel for whether or not it's worth investing further.  

eSports training websites such as offers space to test your reflexes online within certain games, while training camps such as the Dota2 Training Camp in Sweden and eSports Camps in the US offer immersive week-long gamer training holidays, complete with coaches and professional training. 

Locally, rAge Expo and BerZerK Gaming, among others, offer insight and support to parents and guidance to teens looking to make a career from gaming. 

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Read more:

Video games: how to explain the good and bad to a 9-year-old

How do I keep my kids safe online?

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