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The Intel Extreme Masters tournament has now grown enormously since it began in 2007 into a global event with millions of fans following.  Esports in general have also grown exponentially.   Gamers are competing all over the world for huge prizes and take part in events like the International DOTA 2 championships and also the IEM grand finals.  Today there are even universities that are offering Esports scholarships.

It is possible for anyone to become a Pro Gamer, whether you want to get into solo or team competitions.  The following 10 steps may help to launch your gaming career.

1. Find what motivates you

Playing Esports for the right reasons is important, as is doing most things in life.  There are many valid reasons for playing Esports, like the joy of competition, the sense of satisfaction as you grow as a player, and the enjoyment and feeling of fulfillment you get from being part of a team and community.

These things will keep you motivated and involved.   Those players who are only attracted by the money, quick success, and fame are not likely to last long.  They may get to win the progressive jackpot but they will probably never become a pro gamer. If you truly love the game, the daily practice will be a labor of love and slowly you will gain the skills necessary for you to become a pro.

2. Choose your game

Once you have figured out what your motivation is you need to pick your game of choice.   You basically have two choices: choose a game that is trending or on the up and up or go with a more established game.  The advantage of choosing a well- established game is that everything you need, all the resources and infrastructure, is already there to support you in your goal.    Well-established games like League of Legenda, and Dota 2 have large followers and therefore many sponsored tournaments with worthwhile prizes.  However, these games are much harder for newcomers to access.

When a game is trending, players have the chance to participate in excavating the game and advancing the meta.   The original players of Rocket League and Player Unknowns’ Battlegrounds, for example, were pushed right up to the top of the Esports chart. Of course, it could be that the game you choose fails to thrive in the competitive scene and you will have to choose a different game.  The best thing to do is try a few games out and pick the one that really “speaks’ to you.

3. Joining a community

Pro gaming is of course about the person playing the game and his or her talent.  However, it is also about the culture that encompasses the game.   It is important to spend some time visiting the various forums and other spaces where players meet up.  It will give you an idea of where you are heading and if the path of the pro gamer which you are on is actually in line with who you are and your goals.

Getting involved in the community is important if you want to move forward with your career, getting to know the other players.   Being involved in the community you will learn the finer points of the game which are discussed in the forums and message boards. In order to keep up with the continual meta, it is important to go over it again and again and share it with the community you are connected to.  Being connected to a community will also keep you motivated to stay for the long haul.

4. Get the right gear

It is important to play using the right equipment. A good mouse and mechanical keyboard. There are a lot to choose from and you should pick those that work best for you.   You should practice regularly using the same mouse and keyboard every game. Pro gamers will use the same gear they use in the gaming house as they will to compete with on stage.   Getting used to your peripherals will help you to move to a tournament environment where it is more pressure.

Your hardware should also be consistent.  Those organizing pro gaming events, are very particular about choosing system components that are compatible with the gameplay.

5. Making time for practice

It is easy to find people to play with and against with services like ESEA and with in game matchmaking.   Winning is all about practice.

The first thing to do is to get a handle on the game’s mechanics.  Learn the specific skills needed for the game until they are rote.  Pro players are continually practicing in order to keep their skills sharp and even to make tiny improvements.  For new players, practice will make a huge difference as to how you improve your game.

At the same time that you are improving your skills you should begin to study the game’s main strategy. A good Esport will have a number of levels. Knowing your role in a particular level is a good start.  Often the meta used by pro gamers may be very difficult for those starting out to coordinate.

But it is actually good to watch top players. You can learn so much from watching videos and live streams, learning good habits and watching how a game should be played.   As you improve, you can go over your own games and review them and learn how you can, and have improved.

6. Moving up the ladder

If you have a strong desire to win at every stage of competition, you may became a pro player.  It would be necessary to top the scoreboard in pick-up groups, moving up the matchmaking ladder and being the only team remaining in tournaments.

Learn about the different hierarchies and levels of competition.  Each Esport has its own specific way of bringing in new players. For instance, CS:GO players generally progress from public games to matchmaking before going on to leagues and tournaments. Each Esport will have different paths.

As you climb the ladder, you will slowly make a name for yourself.  This may help you to get onto an amateur team and then maybe a pro gaming organization.

7. Locate a team

Finding a team is your next step.   Playing together with players that are more experienced than you and have a different range of skills is a really valuable. The truth is, if you are good and have built up a reputation, a team will likely approach you. But you can search for a team.  The site, Teamfind is worth looking into. It has forums for players to interact.

Being a good team player is obviously a requirement for team games lie CS:GO and Dota.  Find the position that you like and the players that you feel you have a connection with.   However, even playing solo games it is good to connect with people that share your passion.

8. Get noticed – compete

You need to make connections with others in order to move up the competitive ladder.  Networking is important at this stage.  You need to find players to compete with.   Developing relationships with better players can propel you into bigger and better places where you may meet the real elite players.  This is where you may get to break into a pro organization.

9. Keep Balanced

Learn to live a balanced life.  Professional gamers look after themselves.  They continue to live a balanced life of practice and regular non-gaming activities. Good nutrition, exercise, enjoying a good social life along with practice.  A healthy lifestyle includes all of these things and will help to keep you stay motivated.

10. Live as if you are already a pro

Becoming a pro does not happen overnight. It takes hard work and much practice. But it should not be all work and no play.  Learn as much as you can about the game, work on your social skills, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.