Digitalk: Pro Gaming

Ross Tibbles
Ross Tibbles

Gaming, as I’ve said before, is no longer just a mere hobby but a bustling global industry that rivals the big media giants of cinema and television.

Competitive gaming, known as Esports, now garners as many and frequently more viewers than big sporting events. As an example, the average Premier League Football match gets approximately 1 million viewers per match. Fortnite Friday, the weekly Keemstar Tournament, garners nearly 8 million viewers each week!

That’s more viewers than the popular prime time TV show, The Walking Dead, has had so far this season which averages 7 million views per episode!

With the increase of popularity and exposure, obviously the money follows as big brands and the player base itself helps fund the prize pools with tournaments such as the Dota 2 International posting a $24.7 million dollar prize pool and Epic (the creators of Fortnite) allocating $100 million in prize money for it’s first year of competitive tournaments.

Most tournaments are funded by the viewers, including the Dota International, by selling tickets to be able to watch, just like you do to go and watch your favourite football team in the stadium, or funded by the creators of the game or Esport organisers.

This gives rise to the pro players who now can earn a living, fame and fortune from competing in these tournaments just as pro sports athletes do.

Most pro players also stream on Twitch or YouTube both their tournament performances and their daily practice and training, to bolster their income as even the best player in the world can lose to a noob who happened to have his gun pointing the right way at the wrong moment. You can never be certain to win.

The best of the best get invited into gaming houses or teams such as Luminosity, FaZe Clan, Rogue, TSM, Cloud 9, Team EnVyUs and OpTic Gaming, who poach players that they see are posting consistently good performances in tournaments and leader boards, which seems to be the best way to get noticed. Most pro gamers start off under their own steam and several successful ones are still unsigned by teams.

Esport games aren’t just limited to first person shooters (FPS) although it does have the largest proportion of the market. All sorts of games fall into the competitive arena from sports games, fighting, RTS (real time strategy), racing, MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and many more.

Some of the most popular include:
• Doom (FPS)
• Quake (FPS)
• Call of Duty (FPS)
• Overwatch (FPS)
• Rainbow Six: Seige (FPS)
• Halo (FPS)
• Starcraft (RTS)
• Dota 2 (MOBA)
• League of Legends (MOBA)
• Smite (MOBA)
• Madden (American Football)
• Fifa (Real Football)
• Rocket League (Football played with cars)
• Street fighter (Fighting)
• Tekken (Fighting)
• Gears of War (Third Person Shooter)
• Hearthstone (Strategy Card Game)
• Pokemon

Despite all the recent attention and the previously mentioned Fortnite Friday tournaments, Fortnite, PUBG and other Battle Royales are yet to be classed as Esport games, as both the pro players and the developers agree that the games need work before they’re ready.

They’re using the current tournaments to iron out the kinks and see how they can improve the games and stabilise them to the point where it can be truly competitive.

If you want a glimpse into the competitive scene I recommend you look at some of the big players on Streaming platforms like Twitch.

For example, one of the most feared, Widowmaker mains in Overwatch, Kephrii, streams daily and players such as himself will narrate their game play to illustrate the factors they’re taking into account as they play which will in turn help you improve your game play.

Another good one to watch if you want to learn is SypherPK. He mostly streams Fortnite, but has a background in Quake and does a daily educational commentary where he’ll explain every single action and why.

And if after all this you’re sat there thinking, I could do that, maybe you can. Try entering a tournament and see what happens. You never know.

Photograph: Dota 2 league tournament ©