Gaming has prospered so wonderfully through time. In the 1990s and early 2000s, we barely had any gaming tournaments or competitions worth noting. The most classic example of tournaments in those days would be a bunch of college friends playing an inhouse tournament for a couple of beers as the prize.
12 years ago me and my buddies met on Halo 2 and have been gaming ever since. And for the first time ever, we all flew out to meet up for an extended weekend to have a Halo 2 LAN party! from r/xboxone
And now, we have evolved into Esports. A huge industry where organizations are ready to pump in millions of dollars into one single tournament. What a great era to live in. So great that I have the honor of writing an article titled “Everything You Want To Know About Careers in Esports”
So how did we get here? The main factor is the growth of multiplayer games in the mid-2000s, and the rising popularity of live-streaming platforms. Esports wouldn’t be as big as it is right now without the millions of gamers watching these amazing tournaments at home. A research by ESPN estimates that by 2019, around 427 million people will be watching some form of esports worldwide. This is mainly possible due to the convenience provided by live-streaming platforms like Twitch.
The other major factor that make Esports possible, is the professional players who practice day and night to become the best at the game. ‘Professional Gamer’ is the first thing that would come to anyone’s mind when the topic “Career in Esports” is brought up. But Esports is so huge right now that it has created a lot of different kinds of jobs and careers.
In this article, I am going to list out many of the well-known job opportunities that are available in Esports.
As someone who aspires to become a professional Dota 2 player, I can say that it is a very rough journey. None of the jobs listed here are easy to begin with, but becoming a professional player is a much harder task than all the others in my opinion.
Many believe that becoming a professional player requires exceptional talent. Pursuing a career as a professional player is almost equivalent to pursuing a career as an actor. It is excruciatingly difficult and only a very few make it to the top. According to a research, being a successful actor is only possible for 0.04% of the population. I believe that if a similar research was conducted for professional players, the numbers would be very similar.
Due to the immense number of people watching Esports tournaments, casting has become more and more mainstream. A caster is just another name for a commentator, who will speak over the action to inform and entertain the viewer.
Casters require good knowledge of the game and the teams/players that are competing in the tournament. All the biggest casters have their own style that brings a competitive match to life.
There are mainly two types of casters – play-by-play caster and analyst caster. The play-by-play caster provides running commentary and the analyst provides useful insight after noteworthy moments take place in the match.
A host is the main presenter of a tournament. He/she introduces the teams and may be required to interview the players and other experts. They are also responsible to keep the conversation going between the casters/panelists in-between matches if there is a panel. A panel is a group of experts/casters including the host, who have a conversation about the game and players, before and after every match, to provide content for the viewers.
There can be crossover between casters and hosts. Different tournaments have different formats.
“Casters and hosts have different skills but they’re a similar kind of experience. That said, a great analyst doesn’t necessarily make a great stage host, and vice versa.” – Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner, one of the best casters/hosts in the scene currently.
Although initially unheard of, Esports coaches have become very prominent recently. Being a coach for an Esports team is similar in a few aspects to being a coach for a regular sports team. The primary job is to improve all the players in the team through various means.
A coach for an Esports team has the following duties:
- Maintaining a positive and flourishing environment among the players.
- Solve conflicts among the players, if any.
- Helping individual players with their weaknesses and boosting their strengths.
- Analyzing the playstyles of opponents and coming up with strategies with the players to beat them. This also involves watching replays of the games played by significant opponents.
- Watching replays of all the matches played by the team to point out the mistakes that were made and coming up with methods on how to avoid them.
- Arranging scrims with other teams.
Being a coach requires exceptional knowledge of the game and the creativity to come up with new strategies. Due to this, it is quite noticeable that most of the coaches in the scene, were professional players before they became a coach.
However, there are a few coaches who started out their career as a coach. MnM Gaming’s (League of Legends) former coach FrozenDawn is a good example for someone who started out their career as a coach.
Gaming content creators have existed since the early days of YouTube. A content creator is someone who creates guides for an Esports title or videos for entertainment for all enthusiasts of the game.
Ninja is the biggest example of one of the most successful content creators recently. He started out as a Professional Halo player and after winning many different tournaments, he later settled down as a full-time Fortnite streamer.
In the early August of 2018, he became the first Twitch streamer to reach 10 million followers. Currently he has around 25,000 subscribers and he pulls a little over 35,000 live viewers per stream on average. He also has around 21 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.
Ninja also became the first ever gamer to be on the cover of a Sports magazine with ESPN. That moment was a huge stepping stone for Esports and gaming to become equivalent to mainstream sports like Football.
Generally, content creators require to have either exceptional skill at the game or a very charming personality that can attract viewers. There are also a lot of content creators who become famous just because of their nice and friendly personality.
SpaceLyon is a good example for this. He started streaming in March 2017 and is well known for the positivity he maintains on his stream even if he is on a losing streak. SpaceLyon had a steady growth on his channel when Fortnite became huge. He gets a lot of donations on his stream because people admire his humbleness and kind personality. Here’s a clip where he gets a crazy donation while streaming Fortnite.
Since Esports has become such a huge industry, there is news every day. This gives the opportunity for journalists like me to write an article about them.
Also, since Esports titles keep getting constant new updates and regular patches. Writers have something to showcase in their articles very frequently. After amassing a certain number of readers, opinions of these journalists also start getting significant amount of attention.
Relationships are of utmost value to Journalists. Having good connections with the insiders of the industry allows journalists to write exclusive stories and scoops about news before everyone else.
Journalists require a good sense of understanding as to which kind of news their readers would be interested in. Having good knowledge of all the top teams that compete in Esports tournaments is also mandatory.
Other Esports Careers
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to list all the Esports career opportunities in one article, but there are many more jobs out there if one is interested. These jobs not only require in depth knowledge of the game but other skills.
Jobs like ‘Community Manager’, and ‘Event Manager’ requires the employee to have good social skills. Jobs like ‘Sales Person’ and ‘Marketing Manager’ require you to have financial literacy.
There are also jobs like ‘Admin/Referee’ which require you to make important decisions in a small amount of time.
Now that we had a look at all the different kind of career opportunities that are available, lets look at the biggest titles in the Esports industry. These games are so huge that even after so many years, the number of people creating income out of them is still rapidly increasing.
Biggest Esports Titles
In terms of prize-pools, Dota 2 is the biggest Esport in the industry. Dota 2 is a MOBA or an action real time strategy game developed by Valve. The game is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients (DotA), which was a community-created mod for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion pack, The Frozen Throne. Development of Dota 2 began in 2009 when IceFrog, lead designer of the original Defense of the Ancients mod, was hired by Valve to create a modernized remake for them in the Source game engine.
The first ever Dota 2 tournament was hosted by Valve at Gamescom in August 2011 to ensure that enough Defense of the Ancients players would take up Dota 2 and to promote the game to a new audience. This later became an annually held event known as The International or TI. The International had a total prize-pool of $1,600,000 USD.
Starting from TI3, Valve introduced the “Compendium” as a means for all the Dota 2 players around the world to support the professional players. The Compendium is an in-game tool which provides a lot of unlockable bonuses like skins, emoticons, chat-wheel sounds and so-on. 25% of all the revenue made from Compendium purchases was added to the total prize-pool of TI. The first compendium raised over $2.8 million which made TI3 the largest prize pool tournament in esports history at the time. Each iteration of The International since then has surpassed the previous one’s prize pool, with the most recent one, The International 2018, having one at over $25 million.
Apart from that, many Esports organizers like ESL, Dreamhack and DreamLeague host Dota 2 tournaments regularly with massive prize-pools. According to esportsearnings, there have been 1061 Dota tournaments world-wide with a total of $174,267,037.22 in prize money.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve Corporation. It is the biggest Esport in terms of pro-player count. According to esportsearnings, CS:GO Tournaments were hosted world-wide with a total prize-pool of $69,754,679.31, and a total of 11,115 participating players.
The Global Offensive professional scene mainly consists of tournaments hosted by third-party organisations and Valve-organised or co-sponsored tournaments called Majors. Majors have a bigger prize-pool than regular tournaments. They originally started out with $250,000 USD with DreamHack Winter 2013. Later, the prize-pool for these Majors have been increased to $1 Million USD, starting from MLG Major Championship: Columbus 2016.
League of Legends
The second MOBA/ARTS game on the list is League of Legends. It was developed and published by Riot Games, and was released on October 27, 2009. According to esportsearnings, 2208 League of Legends tournaments have been hosted, with a total of $64,069,888.80 in prize money.
In the competitive scene, The League of Legends World Championship is the biggest tournament series for LoL. It is the annual professional League of Legends world championship tournament hosted by Riot Games. Teams compete for the champion title, the 70 pounds (32 kg) Summoner’s Cup, and a huge prize-pool. It started with Riot Season 1 Championship in 2011 with a prize-pool of $98,500 USD and the most recent iteration of it was the 2018 World Championship with a total prize-pool of $6,450,000 USD. The tournament is known to rotate its venues across different major countries and regions each year in a rotating manner, particularly in East Asia, Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia.
Starting from February 2013, Riot Games made a league system named the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) for Europe and North America regions. A total of 10 teams compete against each other to stay in the league. Every season consists of two splits, each split separated into a regular season and a playoff. The top three teams from each continent advance to the world championships. Similarly, leagues such as LPL for China and LCK for Korea are run by organizations independent of Riot Games.
StarCraft II is a science fiction real-time strategy video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the biggest RTS title in Esports.
StarCraft II has had $29,149,033.06 in prize money, 1890 Players, and 5300 tournaments. The game was widely considered the largest esport in the world during the early 2010s and has been credited as bringing esports to the rest of the world in the way the original brought it to South Korea.
The biggest competitive Starcraft II series are the StarCraft II World Championship Series, abbreviated as WCS. There’s two iterations of the WCS series, The World Championship Series Korea and The World Championship Series Global. They are designed to include three major StarCraft II broadcasters, AfreecaTV, DreamHack and ESL. The 2018 WCS Global Finals tournament had a total prize-pool of $700,000.
The most recent entry into the list is Fortnite. It is also the only Battle Royale game in the list. It was developed by Epic Games and was released in 2017.
Fortnite has two different game versions: Save the World and Battle Royale. Save the World is a player-versus-environment game, where four players cooperate towards a common objective on various missions. Fortnite: Battle Royale is a player-versus-player battle royale game for up to 100 players, allowing one to play alone, in a duo, or in a squad
The Battle Royale version started attaining a huge number of concurrent players starting from early 2018, overtaking the other big Battle Royale games like PUBG and H1Z1 by storm.
On 21st May 2018, Epic Games made an announcement that they are going to invest $100,000,000 for Fortnite Esports tournament prize pools in the first year of competitive play.
Epic started the Fortnite competitive scene with their Skirmish series of tournaments. The most recent iteration in the series was The Fall Skirmish Series. It was a 6 week long online event series which had a total prize-pool of $10,000,000.
In total, Fortnite has had $20,476,780.40 in prize money, 1412 Players, and 169 Tournaments. Considering that the number of tournaments is very low compared to the other games in the list, it is safe to say that all the major Fortnite tournaments have relatively huge prize-pools.
There are a few games that could not make it to the top 5, but are definitely noteworthy.
Heroes of the Storm is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It has had $17,916,897.73 in prize money, 1178 players, and 446 tournaments.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play online digital collectible card game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It has had $15,361,825.07 in prize money, 2116 players, and 821 tournaments.
Overwatch is a team-based multiplayer first-person shooter video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It has had $12,470,285.64 in prize money, 2925 players, and 631 tournaments.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is an online multiplayer battle royale game developed and published by PUBG Corporation. It has had $8,662,484.74 in prize money, 1319 players, and 115 tournaments.