The Importance of Taking Risks in Esports

If you are reading this, you are likely interested in getting involved in the esports industry. My number one answer to those who are interested in getting involved in the esports industry is to just start doing stuff and investing your time and money into achieving your career goal (COMING SOON – How to Set A Career Goal To Get in The Esports Industry).

I am warning you now, attempting to get into the esports industry is a risky endeavour and you won’t have a clear path to make it, unlike most other career paths that have several clear pathways to success such as a formal post-secondary education. It all depends on how bad you want to make it into the esports industry, the amount of time and money you are willing to invest for your success and how you do it.

This was my League of Legends Worlds Championship finals viewing party that only got 2 people show up but we had a lot more signups. To learn more about that and why it happened, click here!

Why Does it Have to Be a Risk?

The esport industry only really started to pick up in popularity in 2013, and the industry lacks infrastructure in many parts of the world. Although the USA has been rapidly developing esports in the country, there’s still a huge lack of structure and a lot is left to be desired. Meanwhile Canada has nearly no esports besides in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Therefore, investing any of your time and money into this industry ends up being a risk; There is no clear path for success and any time and money you do put into making in esports could have been invested in getting yourself a job in a stable industry.

Risky Careers in the Esports Industry

Not convinced that getting into the esports industry is risky and requires extra effort in an unsure path? If you still think its all sunshine and rainbows, let’s look at the different career paths and the challenges they face.

Professional Esport Athletes

Everyone who understands esports knows the struggles that esport players have to endure in order to get where they are. They are risking all this time and energy continuously practicing instead of working towards getting a “real job”. Not to mention how many players spend countless hours only to become unsuccessful and are left devastated.

But look at how rewarding it is for the players that do make it, to become one of the best of a popular game and get paid to play video games while adoring fans cheer you on.

Tournament Coordinators and Event Organizers

Esports is not an established industry, as such organizing esports tournaments is a risk. How many signups will you get? Will sponsors want to support your event? Can you actually provide the sponsors with the return on their investment that they are seeking?

Not to mention as many new esport organizers, you are running a lot of events for free or for a loss of your own money. You have to build a portfolio before getting the trust of sponsors for your events or companies to hire you for a paid job. All that effort could have been invested towards studying and working in another industry.

But think of all those who made it. Not only are they supporting the community they love, but they are also interacting with popular gamers and every time they host a tournament, they get to see another esport event unfold and the outcome of all their hard work.

This tournament, the LC PUBG Mobile 1, cost us $100 without having to pay for the equipment or venue. This event lead us to run other events, but we had to pay a small price (and it could have been a lot more).

Streamers

Although streamers may not be directly involved in esports and its ecosystem, I included them here for the sake of explaining the point. 

A lot of people look at streamers and think “you are just recording yourself play video games, I can do that too, what an easy way to make money”. False. Becoming a streamer requires the business mindset, it requires you to continuously invest hours creating a unique stream, streaming with a lot of energy each time you go live, developing your brand, advertising yourself and repeating that every day. There’s no room for slacking off, if you don’t commit to your schedule, you will be letting your viewers down and you will lose your shot at success.

You may read this and wonder how streamers are taking a risk. If you haven’t caught on at this point, time is a valuable resource. And think about all the time a streamer is working on their stream even beyond their weekly hours of streaming. But they take that risk to do what they love, even if it’s a hard and uncertain path.

Esports Team Owners and Managers

Have you read the book Good Luck Have Fun by Roland Li? If not, I recommend anyone trying to go into esports to read it. The book follows Alexander Garfield as he creates the esport teams Evil Geniuses and Alliance and develops them to the level of success they have today (it also has a chapter about the development of Twitch.tv and League of Legends, I recommend checking it out). Through that book, you learn the struggles that not only Alexander Garfield but also other esports teams’ managers deal with when it comes to managing their team in esports.

Click the image to get the book on Amazon

Having an esports team requires a lot of time and financial backing, and it’s a high-risk investment that many people fail to succeed in. But those who make it receive a high-return and get all the additional perks of managing an esports team.

Everything

Seriously, everything in esports has some form of risk and requires having done things to build a portfolio. I haven’t even gotten started on esport stadium owners, esports gambling services, coaching and everything else in the esports industry. Sure, you can get a standard human resource or digital marketing job in a stable esports organization, but even those require you to have a portfolio of work and experiences that will validate you to work in those companies (although I will admit there is a clearer path to become a human resource member or digital marketer in the esport industry than many of the other positions).

Regardless of what your objective is in this industry, you need to start working towards it and start taking calculated risks.

What Kind of Things Should I Start Doing?

This depends on what your goal is (Hyperlink – Article Coming Soon), but in essence you will want to take steps in developing your portfolio and experience for your career of choice.

For example, if you want to become an esports tournament coordinator or event organizer, you may want to start by creating an online tournament or starting a community club. From that, you can start building a community and look to book out a venue to host a physical event. By continuously hosting and scaling up esport events, you will start developing a portfolio that will be desirable for organizations, or you could decide to create your own business at that point.

In that example, I did not touch on all the hardships and struggles that the individual will have to go through. He would have to learn how to organize an online event, how to advertise it and he will make a lot of mistakes along the way. Not to mention that he may have been funding that specific event from his own wallet. Afterwards, he will have to deal with venue managers, perhaps he will reach out to sponsors. He may get taken advantage of by his venue manager, he could get sued by his sponsors, or he could host an event that is hated by his participants.

During all this, he is spending his own personal time he could have been using to relax as he juggles schoolwork or a job with this side hustle.

As you can see, it may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. It depends on how smart you are with your plan. Perhaps if you understood the law, his sponsors would not have sued him. If he knew venue rates, maybe the venue manager wouldn’t have been able taken advantage of him.

He could have taken a different path altogether. He could have avoided all those risks by just volunteering with a locally established esports organization already. Would that provide the same return-on-investment, possibly? I could argue that it wouldn’t, but if all you want is to get a job in the industry, that may be the smarter path to take.

But as that individual, its not right to look at your mistakes as things to regret. Rather, after each occasion he has learned something he didn’t know prior. He got smarter and developed his understanding of the industry and the business world.

What If I Fail?

Let’s go back to the example I used prior. Let’s say you overpaid for your venue and everyone who attended your event hated it. Or better yet, after planning your event for 5 months, it had to get cancelled due to a number of issues you created including your venue manager changing your agreed deal (that actually happened to me (COMING SOON – How My Event Didn’t Run After 5 Months of Planning). After that, you have to understand one thing. You learned.

This was less than half of the team I worked with for over 5 months to plan an event that we never ended up running because of my poor choices as the lead organizer.

You have to understand that everyone fails, but you need to take away all you can from that experience and set yourself up to do better for your next project. Don’t think of a failure as a screw-up but think of it as a stepping-stone to your success.

Failure itself should not be a factor that you consider when you decide not to try something unless its because your expectations are completely unreasonable (but even then doing something is better than nothing).

A little Commitment Can Go a Long Way!

Note: This part does not directly correlate with people trying to become professional esport athletes or streamers. Nevertheless, it should provide you value from reading and you should change that information for your own context.

I want to end off one this last thing. I want to challenge you to invest at least 1 hour every day towards your goal. Only 1 hour, it could be more if you want for any specific day, but at the very least you must commit to an hour a day. And you have to make sure you do it every day, but at the same time if you miss a day don’t beat yourself over it and get back on track. I’m sure you can spare an hour (and if you cannot, you must be a crazy busy person).

Can you imagine working on a project for 365 hours? Well, after committing an hour a day, you have achieved that and on a project that you wanted to do. You will be blown away from the results, and you should start doing it today.

Here are some tips to keep you on the right track:

  • Try to choose the same period of time each day to do your hour-work. I would wake up about an hour and a half or two hours before you leave for your job or school and invest one of those hours towards your side hustle. Later in the day, not only do you get lazy, you may have to do something else that will cause you to miss your work window
    • To wake up early, try to sleep early at a regular interval. Waking up early may not be for everyone, but that has worked wonders for me
  • Turn off all distractions! Turn off notifications from your phone, social media, emails, etc. If you have to, let others know that this is your hour to work on your project
  • Devise some form of a business plan early on so you know the path you believe would help you achieve your goal. This will help you acknowledge where you are going and how much you accomplished
  • Pick one day of the week, ideally on the weekend, where you can decide what work you will do each day and when each thing should get done. If you are dedicating unrealistic expectations on yourself, re-evaluate your expectations for next week.

If you need some advice or guidance, feel free to send me an email at uzair.hasan@esporthow.com, now you better start working!