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Dear Parents: What You Need to Know about Your Kid Going Pro

Despite gaming’s insistent stigma, it is not necessarily an inferior alternative to other activities like art, music, or sports. Gaming has become a significant part of youth culture that can even lead to future careers and unique branding opportunities.

Enter esports—competitive video gaming. Just like any other profession, one cannot simply become a professional gamer from nothing. If someone has the opportunity to become a pro gamer, it is because they have true skill. Likewise, if your child can be a pro gamer, then they have the opportunity to join one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.

Here’s what parents need to know about their kids going pro.

It is a globally recognized profession

Highest-Earning countries in Esports in 2019. Source: Repeat.gg

The ascension of esports in recent years has given new meaning to playing video games—it is no longer just a casual activity done for fun. For some, it is a very lucrative career path. Esports has cultivated a massive, passionate following and has become a global phenomenon, so much so that esports viewership is expected to surpass all pro sports other than the NFL as early as 2021.  Multi-billion dollar brands such as Honda, Geico, Coca-Cola, and Marvel among many others have recognized the growing influence of professional gaming and have invested millions into it. Additionally, some of the world’s biggest esports organizations come from regions all across the globe.And yes Mom and Dad, professional gaming is even considered a sport now (Oh, it’s true!) Naturally, esports is also covered by the sports haven itself, ESPN, and has become a routine part of its coverage since 2016. There’s even talk about the inclusion of esports in the Olympics.

 Source: Newzoo

There’s money involved (And lots of it)

Source: Newzoo

Professional gamers are at the top of the gaming food chain and thus possess skill that far surpasses the average gamer. They offer a service and set of skills that make them highly coveted assets in the booming esports industry. Thus, the hours you thought your kid had wasted on video games can actually be leveraged into a fruitful career in pro gaming, giving them significant earning potential. Most financial rewards come after signing with a team (more on that later).  

It is important to note that in professional gaming—just like any other profession (or any other act in life really)—results may or rather will vary. Not everyone will see the success of professional gamer turned internet sensation Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who has a net worth of 25 million.  On average, players stand to make the most money from streaming ad revenue, with many pro gamers earning more than half their annual income from that source. Sponsorship deals, Twitch and YouTube subscriptions, salaries from pro esports teams, and prize money from tournaments and other competitions make up the bulk of the rest of their income.

Source: Interpret

A further breakdown of how esports players make money looks a little something like this:

Prizes: There is no shortage of prize money for esports participants. Some tournaments offer prize pools that can reach millions of dollars, though the amount is typically divided among the five or six members of a winning team. In 2019, the International Dota 2 tournament had a record $34,292,599 prize pool in which the winning team received over 15 million (Have to split 15 mill between a few people? Ohhhh, the pain!! (-_-)

Regular Salaries: Salaries vary for each team and player. The regular monthly salaries of average pro gamers can range from $1,000 to $5,000 apart from the money they earn in prizes, sponsorships, etc. Some teams even offer their players perks like health insurance and retirement plans. There’s a lack of transparency regarding the full scope of player salaries, but in 2015, the now-disbanded esports team Ember released that their players made a base salary range of $57,000 to $65,000 per year. In 2018, Forbes reported that the average North America League of Legends Championship Series (NALCS) player salary was over $320,000.

It is now believed that the average annual income for a pro gamer is around $60-$65,000.

Sponsors: Sponsors provide the bulk of esports money both for players and teams. As mentioned earlier, many high-profile brands have invested millions into pro gaming, thus sweetening the pot for those lucky enough to be in the industry. Sponsors comprised $456 million of the overall $1.1 billion in esports revenues in 2019, Newzoo reports, with an expected $584 million in 2020.

Streaming: Many esports pros establish themselves as respected figures in the gaming verse with many fans, and as a result, use online streaming as a way to supplement their salary. Twitch, YouTube and other streaming services allow streamers to monetize their streams with ads, taking donations from viewers.

Other opportunities in esports:

Michael Jordan invested in esports organization, Team Liquid’s parent company, aXiomatic in 2018. Source: Dexerto

As a parent, you’d be elated to know that your kid has several career options available to them in the professional gaming industry. Their value as a pro gamer goes far beyond the scope of just competitive gaming, so your beloved can carve a nice future for themselves in an industry they love well after their gaming career. Other careers include:

  • Host/broadcaster, with an average salary of $700 – $1,000 per broadcast
  • Coach, with an average salary of $69,000 – $83,750 a year
  • Journalist, with an average salary of $32,000 a year
  • Sales and marketing specialist, with an average salary of $90,000 a year
  • Coordinator, with an average rate of $21 per hour
  • Social media/community manager, with an average salary of $25,000 a year
  • Event manager, with an average salary varying from $20,000 to $40,000 a year, depending on the event

Esports organizations/teams

The FaZe Clan was ranked by fans as the best esports team according to Ranker.com. Photo courtesy of FaZe Clan

Professional gamers are usually involved with an esports organization in some way. Organizations divide players into teams based on rank and game, some of which have teams that compete in multiple games. If your kid is good enough, he/she may be recruited by one of the many organizations or teams and have the support of a super-influential esports brand.Some games have professional esports leagues, such as the Overwatch League produced by its developer Blizzard Entertainment. The NBA has its own league based on the NBA 2K series. The United States Armed Forces even have esports teams.

All 20 teams in the Overwatch League. Photo courtesy of the Overwatch League

Can lead to higher education

Rejoice parents, for the pursuit of becoming a professional gamer does not necessarily mean the absence of higher education—in fact, it could be a significant step towards that very goal. As of 2019, approximately 130 schools offer esports-based varsity athletics, many of which offer scholarships. In 2016, the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was founded as a governing organization of collegiate esports outside of the NCAA. As of 2019, 94% of all varsity esports programs in the U.S. are members of NACE, with 151 schools across the country. NACE athletes can even earn money from their play in tournament prizes, unlike NCAA collegiate athletes.

The NCSA has a great guide for college esports and scholarships that you should definitely check out.

Conclusion

I get it. When you envisioned your kid’s future, you likely didn’t imagine a career in professional-video-game-playing. But hopefully, those visions now at least accept that a future in gaming and esports is a viable career option. Remember that one day, your son or daughter can become a professional esports player and that your support is crucial for their success. Encourage, love, and support them in whatever pursuit they choose. They will appreciate you (even more than they already do) for it.

Best regards,

J

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