Row 1 (left to right): Raunak Sen, Ankit Panth, Sid Joshi Row 2 (left to right): Sabyasachi Bose, Santany Basu, Sagar Vyas Image: Tapasri Saha
Slowly, yet steadily, gaming has established itself as a potent career choice across the world. Not only have gamers managed to earn fame and recognization through excelling at their passion, but they have also managed to turn what was once considered a hobby for leisure into a lucrative means of livelihood. And with more and more investors coming on board and professional gaming picking up serious traction, it may not be too long before the pipe dream of playing video games for a living may become as common as wanting to become a doctor or an engineer, or at least as feasible.
Pro gaming may be at a very nascent stage in India compared to other countries, but the idea of a pro gamer or a professional eSports team sponsored by one or multiple companies to represent them at big gaming events around the world isn't quite as rare as you thought.
So, what do you need to cut it as a pro gamer in this country? T2 Online talks to some of the prominent sponsored gamers and team owners in the country to bring you some 'pro tips'.
Dota 2 player, Team Signify
Follow the rules, learn how sponsors work, marketing, branding etc. Winning and being good at the game is one thing. But getting sponsored can depend on many things. Even if you are not a pro gamer, there are other ways to attract sponsors, even for amateur gamers. You can make YouTube videos and engage people. If you can keep your audience hooked and the content is relevant, there's a good chance you can attract sponsors.
FIFA Player, Sponsored by Circle
To secret to getting sponsorship from any brand is to be the best gamer. You must have a professional attitude and have good social media skills while interacting with fans and other gamers.
Personally, I struggled very hard in my days to get some good sponsors despite being the best in town, or at least one of the best. What I used to get as 'sponsorships' back then were goodies or gear, which were, honestly, of no use to me. Those days were different, but now if you are good enough to showcase your skills, it will be much easier to get some sponsors with monetary as well as goodie support.
To be honest, every company will only sponsor a Team/Player if he is famous enough on social media or they are unbeatable in the game. The tips I would like to give to the fellow gamers is to be more active in social media, be professional enough to handle fame and be the best at what you do. You are only a viable option for a brand until the brand gets good ROI on the investment they have made on you.
CS GO player, Team Brutality
What I have learned from my journey in Indian eSports is that you have to go with your gut at times and take risks. It was very difficult for me to get even a meeting with any brand initially due to the mindset they had for gamers. Once I started speaking to brands back then I realised it was not their fault completely to not sponsor or invest in this industry. We, as gamers, didn't know how to do things. I knew someone had to make things right and set an example. I worked really hard along with my team to gain their trust and deliver what we promised. I kept doing my research and started learning what exactly these brands look for. I am very happy that those hours that I had put in finding articles on the internet, following international teams, talking to corporates etc helped me a lot. It's a dynamic industry so you need to stay proactive and do your research well to draw up an action plan.
CS Go player, Team Eternal eSports
To be a sponsored pro player you need to thrive to learn about the game daily. Don't just sit and play the game, rather try to learn something new about the game every day and keep reinventing yourself. It will make you better and sponsors will follow.
Owner, Team Entity
There are a few qualities I look for in a gamer to decide whether or not I want to sign him/her for my team.
Primarily, I consider these questions. Is he good? How many wins does he have? Can he improve? Secondly, I consider- Is he toxic? If he is, he won’t be considered no matter how well he stacks up in the first round of criterion.
Besides that, we look for only talent. It's not a PR agency. It does not matter if the player is popular or not. We follow their solo games and use websites like Dota Buff and Gosugamers to track their history.
FIFA player, Team Tempo Storm
I get a lot of messages asking me how to be a sponsored pro gamer. How to get big brands to sign you up to represent the brand. I think the first step is just focussing on your game. If you are playing well and performing, things will fall into place. The most important thing is to be patient and keep practising and keep playing tournaments to stay visible. That's the biggest thing you need once you set your sights to become a pro gamer.