How to Recruit Players For Your Esports Team

New grassroots esports teams know the struggle behind trying to start up an esports team and recruit good players. Many don’t understand where to find players, let alone good enough players to help the teams acquire sponsorships.

As someone who has worked for a professional esports team and having been involved in the process of picking up professional players, I know exactly how grassroots teams can go ahead to acquire players.

In this article, I will go through exactly how your esports teams can find and recruit from a large pool of players, what characteristics you need to look at when evaluating if an esports player is worth picking up and what an esports team does once they’ve actually recruited a player.

How to Recruit Players for an Esports Team

To recruit esports players, you must:

  • Look at People Commenting on Other Esports Team’s Social Media
  • Scout Streams of Low-Watched Players
  • Scout Grassroots Tournaments for Unaffiliated Players
  • Use Tools Like GYO Score
  • Infiltrate Your Targetted Game’s Communities and Network
  • Scout and Network at Live Events
  • Promote On Social Media Platforms

Let’s break down exactly what each of these actions is and how you can use them to exactly identify, scout and recruit aspiring solid pro players and take your team to the next level.

One thing I want to make clear is that you will get a lot of “no”s when starting out. That’s to be expected, you don’t have a lot to offer teams, you are inexperienced and don’t really have much credibility.

That said, have your heart in the process and look to pick up anyone you can. Once you start getting people, you can start finally looking for sponsors to make you a bit of money. Once you get a bit of money, you can start offering things to players which will let you get more plays and you can scale from there.

Just don’t let hearing “no” or “your team sucks” stop you from scaling and growing. It’s a part of the process.

That said, let’s dive right in.

Look at People Commenting on Other Esports Team’s Social Media

This is literally a gold mine that most grassroots teams miss. I remember working for a professional esports team and I was talking with a bud about those people who keep asking to join the team through our Twitter feed.

I would also see people joining the Discord and with terrible English ask “i join team how”. My point is to not make fun of these people, but the fact that many people indeed are taking the time to ask teams if they can join.

Specifically posts that an esports team makes about a new member joining their team or when they tease that they are opening signups. There, you’ll notice that many people would say things like “I’m next”, or “Congrats, I hope to get on this team someday”.

Well, you aren’t the team they want, but clearly that’s an unaffiliated player that is trying to become a professional. Why would you not try your hand at them, especially when there are so many to choose from?

Go through some top esports teams, go through their social media feed and Discord server. Locate these aspiring players that the pro teams are ignoring and DM them about your growing esports team.

That’s how you, as a business owner, must be creative in order to be successful in business and esports.

Scout Streams of Low-Watched Players

One way that a professional esports team acquires players and content creators is by scouting the higher-end unaffiliated players and content creators on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

You can use the same tactic but pick up the leftovers. The low low-hanging fruit, the 2nd class streams and players that pro teams skip but have room for growth.

If you can recruit enough content creators, you can also start having decent metrics where you can actually get a decent bit of sponsorship dollars from sponsors.

To do this, I’m sure you’re aware of the Twitch and YouTube navigation functions, but basically ignore everyone with 200+ concurrent (you could honestly ignore people even further below that, but I’m trying to give you some decent option here) and run through the vetting criteria I included in the 2nd part of this article.

Scout Grassroots Tournaments for Unaffiliated Players

Pro esports teams are limited to scouting mostly online and occasionally larger esports events. No one is poaching around the small-fry community tournaments. But that is exactly where we may want to try to make our move.

Attend the events, maybe your local city FGC monthly, and see the type of skill present there. This will also give you the opportunity to practice selling your team in a live interaction to provide you with instant feedback and social queues on how your message is being received.

This isn’t limited to live grassroots tournaments, you can also scout from online grassroots tournaments since most esports teams will ignore these anyway due to the fact that good enough players aren’t usually taking part in these.

You could even end up finding some really solid players that may or may not join you on your venture of starting up your own esports team.

Use Tools Like GYO Score

Tools like GYO Score are meant to allow teams to scout for aspiring pro players and free-agent players.

This can also be a tool your team uses to try to poach and acquire players. The nice thing about this platform is that all the stats of a player is broken out. That bad thing about is that since it’s so transparent, all the clearly or relatively good players are getting offers elsewhere.

That said, we don’t need amazing or even decent players, you just need any players and have that as a starting point. I’m not saying to reserve yourself to trash players, but reach out to all you can and we will go through how you can separate the wheat from the chaff and get the best possible options available to you.

Infiltrate Your Targetted Game’s Communities and Network

Another idea, although it’s risky considering most community-based servers look down upon this, but you could join specific communities centered around the game and see if anyone is interested in your team.

I’m not a massive advocate of this and definitely avoid places that prohibit this act, but it’s a strategy you can employ nonetheless (especially if you are desperate).

Scout and Network at Live Events

Remember when we said you should attend grassroots tournaments to scout players. Well, although pro teams may also scout bigger events, there’s nothing wrong with scouting in them as well.

Especially if you are targeting players that have placed lower in the bracket that no pro team generally wants. That could be your way in for a conversation and to build a relationship.

With these players, they likely already are in a team or aren’t interested in the small team you have currently. Therefore, you don’t want to burn the bridge but instead network with them.

Exchange contact information and sell them on your potential growth. Start nurturing a bit of a relationship. This will give you more comfort knowing that as you scale in the esports industry that there are players that know your existence and people you already started a conversation with.

These players particularly will likely be trying to go pro for a long time so assuming they don’t end up becoming pro, they’ll likely be willing to join your team after several months to a few years once you’ve grown in assets and ability.

Promote On Social Media Platforms

This one is uncreative, overused and has terrible results. But since it is a method, I’d be remiss not to mention it here.

Posting on social media can have great reach and is a very easy (again, overused and not as valuable in terms of your conversions) way to promote the fact that you are looking for players.

You can do these kinds of promotions on places such as Reddit, your team’s social media, eFuse and Hitmarker.com. eFuse and Hitmarker for sure are 2 really good places to go, but both are also very overpopulated and crowded.

That said, you may still have success. I couldn’t speak too much on if you’d really get success since I haven’t personally used either, but I know colleagues who used both with varying success.

What Characteristics to Look for In Players You Recruit

Okay, now that you know the various ways of recruiting people, you have to know exactly what type of people will actually be good people to recruit.

The characteristics that you should consider are:

  • Skill Level
  • Mindset and Attitude
  • General Personality
  • Personality Meshing with Team
  • Communication Skills
  • Willingness to Learn, Change and Grow
  • Team Player
  • IGN and Social Media Background

Once again, let’s go through a deep dive into each of these so you have a better understanding of exactly what you need to watch out for when scouting and recruiting players.

Skill Level

Obviously without a doubt, one of the biggest factors would be skill level. I wouldn’t call this the biggest reason for a few reasons.

Firstly, because your biggest return-on-investment from your players would actually be their social media scalability, not actually their skill level. This is because if you really think about it, you aren’t going to get anyone really good on your grassroots team.

Anyone that proves to be really good that others missed will sooner or later get poached from you by an actual professional or at least semi-professional team that can actually provide benefits. This will happen the moment they start scaling in a tournament, which is the only time skill levels would provide value.

So, once the skill level starts yielding ROI, you lose it. However, their streaming metrics provide ROI throughout that scalability. Especially if the player is happy with your organization, they won’t necessarily be overly eager to find a new team, opposed to if they were good on the competitive sphere and understood how they stand.

With that, a player with decent scalability metrics will provide a better ROI over their CLV (if you looked at them as a means to an end, which in business, players technically are) and you can use those metrics to provide more stable sponsorships to start paying those players.

That said, the skill level is helpful but definitely not as important as you think starting off.

To evaluate skill level, go to sites like GYO Score if they are registered there, watch their streams and look at their in-game metrics.

With all that was said above, the following bullet points are actually about what makes a good player. I talk more about how to identify a good content creator in this article here.

Essentially, your best bet is to look at your players as content creators right at the start. However, once you start breaking some ground, you’ll need to break that mentality and that’s where the rest of the article actually comes into play.

Mindset and Attitude

Mindset and attitude are important aspects, specifically if your team is at a point where they seriously want to win or rep your organization. Having players, even if they were skillful, with the wrong mindset and attitude will not only fail to actually grow and win but also root your organization from the inside out.

Players need a winner’s mindset and an ownership mindset. These will result in players actually looking at how they can win and fix their mistakes instead of wasting time being unproductive and making excuses as to why they lose.

“It’s my team’s fault”, if that’s a mentality the player is carrying on stream, you definitely bring that into your own organization if they start losing.

This will make all the other players sour and will slowly kill the motivation of the team to play and win.

This is why if the player is streaming, you have to investigate it hard. If they aren’t, you will want to really grind them during the vetting process to learn about them.

Checking their social media as well, as we will mention in the last characteristic here, is a helpful tool to see any obvious red flags.

General Personality

Personality as a whole is important. Is the person aggressive? Are they commanding? Do they refuse to listen or are unable to do anything without being led?

None of these are good or bad. As long as they aren’t toxic, which is also a massive team-killing attitude, you need to see how the person generally reacts.

All that plays into the next point that we will talk about which is how players mesh together.

But for a general personality, you want a sense of competency, maturity and being non-toxic. All these can easily and quickly be identified on their streams and through their social media posts/messages.

Personality Meshing with Team

Now, as per how the personality mesh with the team is important.

You don’t want a team with too much of the same, but they need to be on a similar wavelength. If the team is the type of team that is super hyped throughout the game, you don’t want a non-hyped person because they will struggle to translate into that environment.

Likewise, if the team is more communicative and calm, having a crazy hype guy can work from times, but it may not if the hype guy is overly hyped or he is used to playing in a hyper-hyped environment.

Also, when it comes to diversity of personality, you don’t want everyone who is a follower or an observer. You need a leader who calls the shots. You don’t want 2 leaders.

Considering all that, you want to make sure your team is similar in energy but diverse in function.

Communication Skills

This one is teachable, therefore not to be overly concerned about, but helps to find someone who actually is strong at communication.

Communication is one of the key things that differ between low elo play and high elo play. If players aren’t communicating, they will struggle to be competitive where everyone else knows what everyone else on their team sees and is thinking.

Communication skills are trainable as I’ve said, but coming with them is a massive plus for teams.

Willingness to Learn, Change and Grow

This one, however, is not trainable. In fact, in order to be trained you must be willing to be as such. You must actually have this trait to learn communication skills.

Players that come from a solo-queue background with larger egos sometimes struggle to accept that they aren’t the best or that other’s feedback isn’t as good as their own judgement.

At times, that’s the right mindset to have. But as a general rule of thumb, you want players to cooperate and improve in the direction the coach is leading them.

Credit: Metrifit. A good read for anyone interested.

You can really get a feel for how a person is receptive or not through your vetting process. Be meticulous in terms of the questions you ask and see exactly how they respond.

It’s hard to explain how exactly you’ll identify this over a call, but once you figure it out, you’ll instantly notice who is a bit hard to communicate to and who is a lot more open-minded to being coached and wants to really improve.

Team Player

Most players are molded by solo queue to be solo players. If a team wants to win, all players need to deflate their own egos and play as a team, not as solo players.

That means not trying to be the hero, showing up for practice, taking the short end of the stick for the betterment and the success of the team.

This one is harder to evaluate in a player and can more often be trained out of a player through time and effort on the coach’s part (assuming the player is willing to learn and grow).

It sometimes even takes a player to crash and burn prior to them ever becoming more team-oriented. That said, not being team-oriented will hurt the overall team because their mentality isn’t team-first, it’s themselves-first.

IGN and Social Media Background

Lastly, you can learn a lot about a person from their social media feeds. Do a full social media background check.

Especially if this player will start to rep your organization, the last thing you want is for massive problems down the line with publishers and tournament organizers due to a rogue player causing damage to your brand image.

This is why you should try to keep your social media clean and relatively professional. Or stray away from social media like what I’ve mostly have done.

Also if they have some really bad IGN, you’ll have to make a judgement call on if you want to take them on. Obviously, you can ask them to change their IGN, but depending on what it is, they may or may not have the right mentality for your team.

What Should You Do Once You Recruit a Player

Once you recruit the player, you want to have them promote your esports team by having it included on their social media, banner, graphics and stream.

Once your team starts to become more professional and makes money, you’ll want a contract with a salary, tournament prizing rev-splits, benefits and incentives. In that contract, you also want to make sure you include all that the player is obligated to do to be entitled to those benefits.

You want to keep good players for as long as possible, especially if they are joining you for free. If it’s a paid player, you will always want to evaluate their ROI for your organization and determine on a case-by-case basis the utility of that player and if it makes sense to keep them or not.

Run your esports team like a business because in the end, that’s exactly what it is.