eSports is all the rage, and why not? It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s the next big thing – heck, it’s even fun.
Hardly a day goes by without hearing the words Fortnite, or even Tyler Blevins who is better known to gamers around the world as “Ninja”. Ninja is one of the worlds best Fortnite players, and definitely the most well known Twitch streamer on the internet. Living a life built by video games, Ninja is rolling in the dough and has become the role model to millions of kids (and adults) who aspire to make money playing video games.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Ninja’s empire – he had to start somewhere, and that start is over 10 years in the making. So this post isn’t a get rich quick themed post – you aren’t going to wake up one morning and have millions of subscribers throwing money at you – it takes work and lots of it and maybe a little self awareness too. We’ll assume that you are just starting out, even if you are already a pro make sure you are on the right path by looking at the path Ninja has walked.
1. Humble Beginnings
We all have to start somewhere, most of us started playing games as kids, others didn’t get a start until they were already adults well into their college courses or careers. At first games are all about fun, it’s fun to play them by yourself or with friends but at some point the competitive itch sets in. If you feel you are excelling at a particular game, or genre, such as FPS games like Counter-Strike, Strategy games like Age of Empires, Fighting games like Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter, or even classic slots – then make steps towards playing these things professionally, whether that means entering a local physical tournament, competing online against others, or visiting an online casino. Make sure you grow your skills and confidence in whatever it is that you are pursuing in the gaming space.
Ninja had been honing his confidence and skills playing games as a kid since his dad, Chuck, was the gamer of the family. Of course the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, Ninja having strict parents helped to keep him in line at a young age where he had to keep his grades up, get a job once they were old enough and, as Ninja remembers, spend an hour outside for every hour they gamed. This led Ninja to play soccer through high school – growing his coordination and athleticism to take his gaming to the next level. There is some raw talent involved in video gaming some would argue – as Ninja was aware that every game he picked up he ended up being better than the average person at it. Ninja got his name from an old Halo move, one of his favorite games to play as he eventually went pro thanks to Halo. It all started though in 2009 when he was able to enter his first Halo tournament with permission from his parents.
Now that you know which direction you want to go in, what is the next step to take in order to reach that next level?
2. Training Takes Time
As you can see you can’t just go from zero to hero in no time at all – it takes dedication and sometimes years of practice. If you are an avid gamer then you have a leg up on the competition in terms of ramp up time, however if you are just getting started all hope isn’t lost, there are some things you need to do though.
- Try to find the right gaming fit, try out all the different games available and see which one fits you best
- Don’t give up when it gets hard, put in the hours and you’ll see results
- Look for youtube videos and other walkthroughs/tutorials for the games to see if you can learn some tips
- Watch the pro players, do what they do, and do not do what they don’t
Training is one piece of the puzzle, but having the right gear helps too – let’s take a look at the proper things to focus on when it comes to a gaming setup.
3. Gear Up
Again you have to start somewhere, I don’t care if you game on a standard PS4, or a souped up gaming PC with 4k monitors lining your desk – wherever you are you can get better, or at least compete in some capacity to get your gaming career started.
Since our focus today is mainly on Ninja let’s look at where he started – he started playing Halo – which was on PC but mostly just on regular ole original XBOX consoles. Nothing fancy there. When he did get on the PC gaming scene he didn’t have the best equipment, but what he did have was determination and a natural inclination to compete and be the best. Whether he learned that from school, or his parents, or his first job, or his years of playing high school soccer (maybe he was born with it) – it came from somewhere and if you need that extra push to get yourself competitive dig deep and find it. You definitely don’t need the most expensive gaming rig, RGB keyboards or whatever other fancy crap you can sit on your desk to win.
When Ninja broke into the H1Z1 scene he was rocking a modest i7 PC with a GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB – nothing fancy at all by todays standards, but he was able to get into a tournament with the game and won the first ever Daybreak invitational match for over $20,000 dollars. I don’t know about you but with $20,000 to invest in yourself i’d say you can really change the game competitively with that kind of cash – a fantastic start. So how do you get there?
4. Join Tournaments
You’ve got the skills, you’ve got the gear, you are confident, you’ve been practicing and you are ready to win – so get out there and hunt down that victory (royale!)! There are tons of gaming tournaments these days, so you are lucky due to the explosion of esports all across the world. Whether the price is big or small (or no prize at all) you should find yourself hunting down a good match against anyone that claims to be the best at a game so you can figure out where you fall on the skill meter.
Playing online competitively in games really helps test your mettle and save you the embarrassment of losing in front of an audience. If you are already competing online and finding that worthy opponents are few and far between, then find a real tournament. There are plenty of eleagues and cups that you can either join or sign up for – just do some googling and get signed up for one and start mentally preparing.
If you are going to an in person tournament it can be a little more to prepare for in terms of being seen – attitude and etiquette here really helps make a good impression on the audience – you certainly don’t want to be on their bad side. So avoid walking in like you own the place and thinking that you are the best, because no one likes to root for someone like that. Sit down, be humble.
5. Get Sponsored/Make Money
If you win a tournament, or several tournaments, or show a great display of skill during a tournament you might catch the eye of a team, or a sponsor, that want to recruit you or pay you to advertise for their business while you play – score! That is just one of the many ways you can make money doing what you love. If you want to take the route of Ninja he makes money in a bunch of different ways, which are as follows:
- Views & Subscribers on Youtube (good place to start)
- Twitch Subscribers and Views (good place to start)
- In Stream Advertisements – paid for by companies (think commercials)
- Sponsorships (logos on clothing or computers/gear around the stream
- Events – get paid to be places, and play
- Appearances – same thing except mostly on TV
- Tournaments! Where it all started, get paid to be at tournaments, and play! (good place to start)
- Merch – who doesn’t want a Ninja Plush?
Again, none of these came over night and they come from years of experience, negotiations, and exposure to the gaming world – you might get a few, you might get a lot, you might get none! All depends on how good you are, how good your personality is, and how smart you are in the business world. Make the most of it and have fun.
We wish you great success on your gaming journey! Hope this article helped you to navigate a new path for your career – or at least know what to expect, and give you some things to think about! Thanks for reading!