For players who dream of making money from their passion for gaming, becoming a member of a team and/or being sponsored is one of the best ways to go pro. Many players have some misconceptions about what it means to be sponsored and by changing their perspective just a little they can really discover many ways that they can become good sponsor prospects, if they put in the time and effort to do so.
Traditional sports have many different revenue streams that can keep players and teams paid and happy, but in esports there is really only one major revenue stream and that’s sponsorship for the purpose of advertising. Companies want to advertise their products, players and teams offer to get the word out on their products for a price. If you play your cards right you too could have a huge logo tattooed on your forehead while you play grand finals. What you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of one of these companies and ask, “Why would they pay ME to advertise for them?”. Well first imagine that you are literally a walking billboard for their product. How are people gonna see that billboard?
“Easy!”, you say, “I’ll just win.” That’s a good start, winning is always a great way to advertise and for many it’s the best or only way to get noticed. The more events you win the more you’ll appear on stream, the more times your name and sponsor tag will appear on strangers computer monitors. Winning, no matter how you do it or how little people like how you did it, is always good advertising. So one of your goals should be to be the best or one of the best at whatever your game is so you stand out and get attention.
“Alright, I’ll work on winning, what else can I be doing?” Winning isn’t the only way you can get your face and name in front of people. Commentators get attention and tons of stream time so if you can get on that mic. Being funny, smart, or professional in front of a camera is going to earn you a lot of points with potential sponsors. Sponsors love to make advertisements and being able to put you in there helps you and them. If you can show that you are great on camera or can even make your own ads then that looks great!
Social media is amazing for advertising so having a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube is a huge plus. Even if you don’t have the followers yet, just showing that you can act the ways sponsors would want you to is points for you. Most sponsors want some combination of professional, funny and insightful, so start making connections and posting as much as you can.
Ultimately the mindset you should cultivate is that pretending you are already sponsored and imagining what a sponsor would ask of you will help guide you to be the professional you aim to be. This will also allow you to get creative and even find ways of increasing your potential value to teams by finding new ways to get noticed. Every win (or top 8) you get, every popular tweet, funny video, or personal connection you form will help. Imagine each connection or piece of content on an esports resume that you could show to Cloud 9 or TSM. If what you did sounds like it could get eyes on you, you are heading in the right direction.