What does it take to go eSport pro?
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.
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.
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.
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?