What does it take to go eSport pro?

5 min read

League of legends logo

I remember when I first played League of Legends. I could easily play for at least 4-5 hours a day – it was fun and addictive and I felt like every game I played taught me something new about the gameplay and champions. Of course, I was still (and still am) an absolute n00b. However, there are plenty of excellent local teams that are getting sponsorships and winning tournaments – how can they make the leap to becoming eSports pros? One team asked Reddit, and got quite an earful.

Re Vera, the League of Legends team that took the top spot at the DGC last year, decided to do an AMA on Reddit. They were looking to drum up some attention and support:

We’ve come to reddit to get more noticed in the LoL community. A little bit about the team: We are currently the best team in South Africa, we have won the Do Gaming Championship – SA Champs, and have been undefeated in the SA scene since our team started a year ago. We play with a stable ping of 200ms on the EUW server, and still go strong. Our main problem is the lack of international sponsors interested in the country.

I’m going to stop them right there. Sure, it can be hard to get international sponsors to pay attention – of course it is. However, this is the same problem that teams have anywhere and everywhere. In the US of A, it’s hard to get noticed so that sponsors become interested in sponsoring the team while in other developing countries it’s simply difficult to become established enough for such a partnership. So, sure – it’s a difficult thing for a team to get sponsored, but I’m not really a big fan of the tone of this AMA. Regardless, they ended up getting slammed.

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Over the course of the discussion, it came out that the team was only able to train for about two hours a day, and they had not played ladder matches enough for the team to reach upper Diamond levels. They were lambasted, eventually leading to this point:

The thing is why would a sponsor invest in a team that is platinum? sure you are the best in South Africa but if the best team from a country is still worse than mediocre teams from other countries there is no reason to sponsor them.

Do you even lift

While I don’t completely agree – local support for our best teams exists and sponsors do see this and get on board – it is a valid point. Many local teams want to go pro, get sponsored and support themselves by playing games. Unfortunately, many don’t know how to get there, or (even worse) are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to get there. Pro gamers, even the lesser known ones, play for hours every day. Like any other sport, it’s necessary to train consistently to improve – each player needs to get better individually and also the team needs to learn how to coordinate and cooperate. Just look at someone like Dendi in Dota 2 – while he is brilliant at solo mid, he simply wouldn’t be as successful without the rest of his team.

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There are rumors that Re Vera will be joining Energy eSports. I sincerely hope that the organization helps them develop their training plans so that they can climb the ladders and gain international exposure. The reality is that even if you win tournaments locally, until you can climb the international rankings, you will still be considered a mediocre team. If you want to become an eSports athlete, you need to behave professionally and give your training the priority and respect required.

I wish Re Vera all the luck and success in going pro. I hope that they were able to take some of the better advice on board and ignore the usual Reddit trolling. What do you think it will take to improve the calibre of eSports in South Africa?

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Last Updated: January 15, 2014

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • Admiral Chief in Vegas
    • Hammersteyn

      That’s the average raging,mom insulting,under-aged COD player right there.

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        Lol, I thought first it was of Darryn, then realised it cannot be, this boy is taller ๐Ÿ˜›

        • Hammersteyn


      • Matewis Jubilai

        Ugh that is also why I stopped playing TF2. Nobody was rude or anything but it kind of took me out of the moment to hear one of these guys saying in a shrill high pitched voice : “Komaan ouens, kry hulle!” which prompted me to re-evaluate my existence and stop playing… oh and the TF2 steam updates were getting ridiculous

        • Admiral Chief in Vegas


        • TiMsTeR1033

          so you hear people talking afrikaans and you quit playing?

          • Admiral Chief in Vegas

            Most likely the shrill high pitched voice

          • TiMsTeR1033

            my bad I forgot about that part

          • Matewis Jubilai

            lol, uhm no. I couldn’t care less about the language…

          • TiMsTeR1033

            Timmy brain slow, as admiral pointed out. lol

          • Matewis Jubilai

            No worries ๐Ÿ™‚ I doubt yours can go as slow as mine – especially when making coffee : I’ve put the kettle in the fridge, poured coca cola into my coffee and once nearly broke my hip waiting for the kettle to boil doing this :

          • TiMsTeR1033

            The only thing what worries me is how you nearly broke your hip in the process. coke with coffee is actually a stay awake method used by Russian truck drivers during long hauls..

          • Matewis Jubilai

            hmmmm curious there is apparently an entire website devoted to ‘putting weird things in coffee’ such as coke. Russian truck drivers eh? that is interesting.
            How? Lack of martial arts training combined with oil on the floor from pan fried Hake earlier that day…

          • TiMsTeR1033

            oooh that had to hurt!

          • Weanerdog

            That sucks

          • Weanerdog

            Hang around Russian long haul truck drivers do you?

          • TiMsTeR1033

            called Discovery channel actually ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Weanerdog

            Seems legit

  • TiMsTeR1033

    To become a pro at esport you need the following:

    1. Lots of time.
    2. More time
    4.hard work
    5.single (as need more time)

    • Weanerdog

      You forgot more hard work and lots of time

    • Potty for Poo

      Where can I buy more time?

  • Rags

    The reality is that competitive gaming locally is very small market. Sponsors need to see a return on investment in teams that they sponsor. Clan leaders who go this route must learn about PR and how they can add value for the sponsors in a realistic way. They need to be able to place a figure of how much money they will make the sponsor. Do do this, they can do a marketing course, ask your community or an experienced PR person/friend that can help, do an internship at an agency, research research research, pull the help of a copywriter, make an effort to learn the system before making an ass of yourself.

    And we must recognise the fact that most sports in South Africa are non professional. Most people who compete at provincial level or even in a prestige group, all they get is a medal while also putting in 6 hours a day. It makes a lot more sense for a company to sponsor an event than a team UNLESS they can be shown the value of doing so.

    We are also in general quite far below international standard. So pulling in international sponsors can be tough unless you demonstrate the benefit of local investment to the sponsors regardless of skill level! I believe that this can be done.

    As for just improving? Fatality said it best: ‘practice practice practice’.

    • Svarupa Singh

      Well said ^^

  • Jaded_Reprobate

    To become a pro at any sport you need a few things:
    1. Talent (obviously)
    2. a dogged desire to be at the top (which think is just as important if not a lil more important. Talent will only get you so far)
    3.practice, practice and more practice
    4. heart…. (you are going to be knocked down many times… you are going to get beaten out there… but you need to have the heart to stand up and keep marching forward no matter what…)
    and then as for getting sponsorship… it will happen… you need to keep getting out there, knock on doors, speak to people… make your voice heard… some1 will hear you… you can’t sit behind you pc and hope people will notice your skillz…. life doesn’t work like that

    • Potty for Poo

      Think you are forgetting- you need some lubed fingers, cos I’ve read that some korean pro’s retire in their 30s… due to arthritis

  • Svarupa Singh

    Well winning is not everything sponsors want to see you advertise them well that’s where i think South African teams fall short. We have very poor social media skills in my opinion.

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