eSports – A Viable Career Path?


eSports matches were watched with regularity by more than 200 million viewers last year, and further 250 million viewers have tuned into matches every once in a while.

Those growing up with a computer in their room have probably heard their moms say, with a disapproving look on their faces, the following words: “nobody will pay you to play video games”. Well, time has proven moms wrong. For many gamers around the world, the long hours spent playing online have turned into a career – one that comes with several revenue streams. And most importantly, one that is becoming more and more serious with each year.

The next big spectator sport

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the growth of eSports in 2020 received an unexpected boost. But even without it, eSports have been growing each year both in their revenues and the number of spectators. Competitive gaming has an ever-growing following on YouTube and Twitch, and it’s taking its first tentative steps in the “mainstream” media, thanks in part to the lack of live sports to broadcast. Fox Sports, one of the biggest sports channels in the US, has made waves by organizing eNASCAR races to fill the gap left behind by the lack of the real thing – and the viewership numbers are convincing.

What does it take to be a competitive gamer

Like in traditional sports, practice makes perfect in eSports, too. Some professional gamers report training even 12 hours a day – and before you argue that “all they do is play games”, try it yourself. It’s very different from playing for fun.

Aside from gaming itself, being a professional player requires skills like teamwork, resistance to stress, quick decision-making skills, and tactical thinking.

What’s most important, being a professional gamer – just like a professional athlete, by the way – requires dedication and enthusiasm.

How much does a professional gamer make?

As I mentioned above, competitive gaming comes with several potential revenue streams.

First of all, there is the prize money in various competitions. The 2018 League of Legends World Championship has had a total prize pool (together with the cut generated by game sales and advertising during the broadcast) of $6.4 million. The winning team – China’s Invictus Gaming – took home more than $2.4 million.

Aside from the prize money, professional gamers make money – just like professional athletes, by the way – from sponsorships and endorsements, too. Fnatic, a European eSports team, has partners like AMD, MSI, phone maker OnePlus, and several others.

Plus, players on a team receive regular salaries, too – in eSports hotbeds like the US or China, these salaries can reach $5,000 per month, and some teams even offer benefits like retirement plans and health insurance.

Is eSports a viable career path? Apparently, it is – and if eSports continues to grow as predicted, it may become an even more attractive one.

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