“Going Pro” Part Two:

We talked last time about making the switch from an amateur to a professional mindset and how that allows you to focus on what you want and exert control over your goals for the future. To illustrate this in reverse, let’s take the example of a fictional guy named Steve.

Steve attends local tournaments for his favorite Smash Bros game.  Steve is pretty good at the game, plays all the time, makes some money here or there at locals and wants to make PR sometime or even go pro one day.  Steve ‘trains’ (reads: plays for hours) with his friends and fellow gamers with high aspirations. If you’ve been to a tournament you’ve probably met like 10 Steves.  But Steve has an amateur mindset and it permeates his play and his goals.  

Steve plays a middle of the road character who can do well but doesn’t exactly set Steve up for growth.  Because of Steve’s character choice you’ll occasionally see Steve ranting on Twitter about how “character X is bullshit” because Steve’s game plan against those characters is basically praying to not run into them every time he enters a tournament.  Steve travels to tournaments but only when his friends are going and when it’s convenient for him.  

Now nothing is wrong with the way Steve views the game or his life if this is what he wants out of it.  If he wants more though, he would do well to adjust his mindset and treat the game he loves like a professional would.  Taking training seriously by setting goals and practicing execution like a pro would, treating every aspect the game with serious respect and expecting your opponent to do the same (i.e. no tactic is off limits or cheap), not limiting yourself by picking a sub-optimal character*, treating competition as a proving ground for what he’s trained to do, and never treating winning and losing as a roll of the dice.  Steve will even find that when you treat more parts of your life like a professional would that you begin to realize that you have so much more control over your life than you thought. He’ll gain a newfound confidence in himself that will spill over into other parts of his life too.

Acting like a professional isn’t just for hobbies, it can give new meaning and joy to his job, his relationships and his view of himself.  Taking action rather than making excuses just might become a little more of what Steve is all about.  Treating gaming as something that can’t be taken seriously isn’t Steve’s fault though, our society has been telling people for years that gaming can’t be taken seriously for years, but things have been changing for the better for a while now and they’ll continue to be more accepting of everyone’s hobbies and goals.  

My urging for you is to take a few minutes to sit and think about what it is that you want to accomplish today and in the coming months.  You don’t need grandiose goals, but without some kind of goal going forward you will quickly find yourself thinking “where did the time go?”.  If you focus on what matters to you and take steps you’ll be blown away by what you can accomplish one set at a time.



* Playing a mid or low tier character isn’t strictly a bad idea for a few reasons, but overall I think it’s a mistake for someone who wants to compete at a high level.  Some reasons for picking a non-top tier include gaining fans who want to see unique characters (being a low tier hero), believing that people have vastly underestimated the character, or the game is balanced enough that no characters really limit your potential.  Even granting these I think you’d be better off picking a top tier, I’ll write about this at a later time.

“Going Pro”

Taking something you love and enjoy like esports and turning it into a career that can support you is the goal of many people.  “Going Pro” is the dream, and at its base that means being a professional, someone who makes money doing what they love. Technically getting top three at your eight man local might get you your entry fee back, so pro status achieved!  But let’s be real, you want to make enough to support yourself and quit your job. This is a tough goal to achieve for most people, but it’s not completely unattainable and giving it a shot might just be fun, heck if it would just quiet the voice in your head that says, “What if” then trying is absolutely worth it! Just don’t rush to quit your job, and let’s start with how best to view this new goal of yours.  

I want to stress to you that “Going Pro” means more than just making money, the money part is realistically going to have to come later.  Before you are a professional in any endeavor, you are an amateur. Amateur is defined as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession”.  A huge majority of people engage in their hobbies and sports as an amateur, spending a portion of their time at it, not taking it too seriously and simply enjoying it.  By the way, there is nothing wrong with this way of viewing the things you love, but if you want to one day be a professional you need to work to make the switch in your own mind and your actions to treat it like a professional would.  

Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase “Fake it till you make it”? While I’m not telling you to read “The Secret”, on a very practical level anyone wanting to go pro needs to begin working in earnest to achieve their goal, or else their want of professional status is just a dream.  Being serious means setting goals for the day, week and month that are measurable and achievable, regularly practicing the way a professional would so that those combos won’t drop even if you tried, scheduling intense training sessions with players better than you, asking for advice and criticism, and making no excuses for your play. 

In my next post I’ll give some examples of amateur thinking versus professional thinking at work and how the difference can affect not just your hobbies but the way you view all of your personal endeavors.