Professional gaming is a pretty huge deal these days. Big contracts are getting signed (Overwatch pro Sinatraa, pictured, is now earning a salary of $150k with NRG), old and new money are investing in esports, and hundreds of thousands of fans are watching live streams of big events from home. Let’s not forget the production value of live events, either. Imagine wearing your org’s jersey up to the top eight stage at EVO in Las Vegas, or working hard with your team and traveling to the EU LCS Finals at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. There’s a lot of glory to be won, but it all has to start somewhere. Let’s look at what an esports org and some player development services had to say about going pro, the responsibilities that come with it, and what you can do to take your game to the next level.
Circa eSports: Global powerhouse in fighting games and Rocket League
Founded in 2015, Circa eSports are best known for their presence in the fighting game community. They’re well-represented by some of the best fighters in the world, including CEO 2017 Killer Instinct champion, Nicholas “Nicky” Iovene. Circa eSports recently acquired an EU Rocket League roster as well, with players sitting in the top 15 of the EU leaderboards. In the driver’s seat of their player acquisitions is General Manager, Hunter Specht. “If a player becomes a professional under our brand, they can expect that everyone in Circa will do whatever it takes to keep pushing them forward,” Specht says. “Whether it's moral support or in game support, we will always have a family atmosphere that allows players to play free and comfortable. In return, we expect the players to represent us to their full ability. It's important to be a good player, but it's way more important to be a good person and make a positive impact.” Today, most professional gamers are expected to stream and maintain a positive image not only for themselves, but for the organization that’s putting them out there. If you have the wrong attitude or are unwilling to contribute positively to the community, you might get some doors shut in your face. “A common mistake players make when they approach us is that they do not fully understand what it takes to become a full time professional player prior to reaching out,” Specht says, “It’s important to understand what organizations are looking for and mold yourself to that. For example, players think that talent alone justifies a full-time salary. In reality, that’s only one small piece of the puzzle. Content creation and reputation are huge factors as well. If an organization is unable to market a player, they will never fully benefit from the deal.” Circa eSports is partnered with several endemic gaming sponsors, including the streaming platform, Stream.Me. The relationships they have cultivated with their sponsors are just as important as those with their players. Without one, the other would not exist, and the org will struggle. Aspiring pros must be privy to common business practices in esports if they want to start off on the right foot. As Specht suggests, talent isn’t everything. Results are still quite important, however, and there are many developmental outlets available to players around the world.
WaWa’s Boot Camp: Improve your Overwatch Skill Rating with help from the pros.
Overwatch has had a turbulent esports scene, no doubt. With Overwatch League around the corner, however, many dedicated players still grind away in hopes of reaching the upper echelons of the SR ladder where they might garner the recognition of scouts. Easier said than done, of course, as Overwatch is one of the more difficult shooters to master. With so much theoretical and practical depth to this team-based game, players often feel like they’ll never improve. That’s where WaWa’s Boot Camp comes in. “In our opinion, there is no other better or quicker way for a player to improve and ditch bad habits than to have a seasoned Overwatch player examine and analyze those bad habits,” says Sol Lee, Marketing and Content Creation Officer of WaWa’s Boot Camp. “In many cases, our Grandmaster and top 500 coaches started as Platinum or Diamond players and grinded their way up, and that's what drives them to do these coaching sessions. These one-on-one sessions are supplemented by the guides that we create and the community events we provide, such as scrims and tournaments.” While developing into a top-tier player is fine and all, that still leaves some questions in regards to going pro. With Overwatch having such a thin scene outside of whatever Blizzard is offering, players without connections might still feel defeated. Free services like WaWa’s Boot Camp make this step a little easier with the relationships they already have with esports orgs. “Because our mission is to ‘educate gamers of all skill levels,’ this includes even more seasoned veterans who have dreams of entering the professional circuit,” Lee says. “We have created and are refining an infrastructure of coaches, scouts, and managers so that we can recognize and develop talent, as well as foster professional connections and relationships. In fact, we have already begun developing these players and forming these professional relationships in regards to the Overwatch League with the hope that the Overwatch scene will continue to stay healthy and succeed.” WaWa’s Boot Camp offers a unique coaching experience with a clear path to the individual goals of their clients. Their name is well-respected in the community, and they have friends in very high places. For the aspiring Overwatch pros and esports orgs alike, WaWa’s Boot Camp is taking steps toward ensuring that the future foundation of Overwatch esports is a strong one.
Skill-Capped: LoL and WoW player development with a dash of neuroscience
As the esports industry continues to evolve, we will continue to see more advanced methods of player development take form. Skill-Capped is among the most cutting-edge companies offering players a scientific edge when it comes to improving game sense and raw skill. Now that Riot is migrating toward a franchised model for LCS teams, the importance of services like Skill-Capped is quite high for both players and orgs. Alex Darling is a Product Manager at Skill-Capped, and he’s been playing League of Legends since season one. “Our information is the most up-to-date, from names they can trust and presented in easily understood ways,” says Darling. “Going through sets of videos on Skill-Capped is akin to having your own personal challenger coach walking you through concept after concept – without the hit to your wallet.” Indeed, Skill-Capped has a simple goal in mind: Provide the best content for the price of a LoL skin. The player instructional platform has over 200,000 users, with 94% of them saying the service was helpful and that they’d recommend it to anyone. “We’ve worked with over a hundred top tier players including Imaqtpie, Voyboy, and Bigfatlp,” says Darling. “We’re constantly grabbing talent from the top of the ladder and offering them a tangible payoff for the time they’ve invested into mastering the game.” How they’ve achieved such a high level of success is quite exciting for the esports industry. “We’ve just finished user-testing with a research group of over 200 participants between bronze and platinum ranking,” says Darling. “It’s impossible to argue with the results. Our upcoming daily video system is backed by neuroscience techniques and has players mastering their roles faster than ever before. Our content is crafted hours of analysis from players ranked at the top 0.01%. Many players spend hundreds of hours to master concepts that we parse down to ten minutes.” Skill-Capped represents the future of esports analytics and training as the industry sits on the brink of cultural normality. It’s only a matter of time before these high standards for developmental services “become more embedded,” as Darling suggests.
Tomorrow seems closer than ever
Esports is here to stay, and, much like with traditional sports, there is a huge market for players seeking assistance in attaining their goals. Everything is more connected than ever before, with services like WaWa’s Boot Camp and Skill-Cappped helping players catch the eyes of esports orgs like Circa eSports. Being a pro gamer these days means being better than the best on the ladder, and these trailblazers are making sure that everyone has their shot at attaining that level of greatness.