In this post, we’re going to focus on the things you can do outside of Overwatch in order to improve inside of Overwatch and increase your chances of going pro. Youtube and Reddit are full of in-game tips to boost performance, but what players can do outside of their esport is often neglected.
Here are the ten tips for becoming a pro Overwatch player:
- Hire a coach
- Get the right gear
- Get better at learning
- Start training like an athlete
- Develop a personality and reputation
- Become a team player
- Attend local tournaments
- Face the facts
- Consider varsity esports
- Learn from Biofrost & Fatal1ty
If you didn’t start playing Overwatch right at the beginning then you are behind many other players. One of the most crucial skills in esports is learning.
If you can cut down on the time it takes you to learn and improve you’ll be much better off at reaching a professional level or any sort of level that can offer you financial gain.
In a nutshell, becoming a pro Overwatch player requires you to do the following:
But accomplishing the above steps and being a pro gamer requires so much more than just playing Overwatch itself.
HIRE A COACH FOR OVERWATCH
I’m still unsure why so many competitive gamers are hesitant to hire a coach. People hire coaches/instructors for literally anything, even things that offer no path for a professional career.
Having an esports coach may be the best way for you to learn, or it may not be. But you won’t know until you’ve given it a fair chance.
You’re not going to get worse by hiring a coach, but you could get significantly better in a significantly shorter amount of time.
Personally, I learn best when someone is walking me through it, especially after trying to learn it myself first. It helps me “put the pieces together”.
Esports have a big learning curve. Like I discussed earlier, you have to spend unnecessary amounts of time practicing things you’re already good at in order to practice something you’re not good at.
Overwatch is a great example of having to spend a lot of time doing things you’re already good at for small opportunities to practice something you’re not good at.
That’s one of the issues with FPS games like Overwatch, you are constantly performing actions that you’re already good at and are unable to repeatedly practice specific skills you aren’t good at. Imagine if basketball players could only practice layups by playing full on games.
The biggest benefit I see to hiring a coach is reducing the amount of time necessary for improvement. Hiring a coach/player that is better and more experienced than you is an almost guaranteed way to improve faster.
An additional benefit is learning how to accept advice and critique, a skill that can be difficult for many to develop but is crucial if you are to become a pro gamer.
In fact, being coachable is a skill in itself. If you make it onto a high-level team but struggle to work as a team and listen to the IGL it won’t matter how good you are as some players won’t put up with it.
Saving time might not seem like a big deal to you if you’re younger but you need to realize that there are many other things you could be improving in your life that would also help you improve in Overwatch.
If you’re required to spend all of your time in-game other these areas are going to suffer. Do you really want to spend eight hours accomplishing something that could be accomplished in four hours?
Learning requires mistakes, and mistakes take time. An Overwatch coach has already gone down the path you’re currently going down and can help keep you from wandering off of that path.
Serious About Becoming A Pro?
Then hire a coach. GamerSensei focuses on recruiting top-level coaches whereas Fiverr is very affordable.
And don’t complain about having to pay for a coach. When I was 15 years old I got my first job dishwashing and I saved up for the latest Nvidia card (a laughable 128mb) just to ensure I had consistent and max fps in counter-strike 1.5.
Besides, in the business world, it’s common for people to work at a company for free just to learn from those with more experience.
If you do hire a coach, milk that opportunity and ask as many questions as you can. In fact, write down all the questions you can think of before starting your work with them to get the most bang for your buck.
Coaches are also great for helping Overwatch players break through plateaus. A coach may be able to better identify your weaknesses and what you need to work on.
They may also be able to help you see things you haven’t seen in yourself, like bad habits you’ve developed over time.
If you’re just not in a place where you can afford to pay for a coach/mentor, check out your esports subreddit. You may be able to find free coaches/mentors on Reddit Overwatch or its Discord channel. In fact, this is how a lot of the paid coaching services started and many gamers are happy to give a helping hand in their community.
Often, teaching is the best way to learn.
GET THE RIGHT GEAR FOR OVERWATCH
Using the right gear can have a drastic impact on in-game performance for Overwatch.
For those that say getting proper gaming gear is just hype, I would argue that you’ll never see a pro using a mouse with a ball in it (if those even exist anymore) and you’ll never see a pro using a monitor made in the 90s.
My point is that you’re going to eventually get high-end gaming gear, so if you can get it now, you’re training will be better off. It’s always best to train the way you’ll be competing.
I will say, however, that once you get into the actual higher-end gaming gear products, the differences between everything is pretty minuscule so there’s no need to complicate things.
A lot of it comes down to preference with either the shape/feel or the brand itself.
If you want to check out some of my recommended esports gaming gear then head on over to ‘Gaming Gear’ section in the Recommended Gear section.
Pro Player Setup – Taimu
Here is what pro Overwatch player “Taimu” uses:
Mouse: Zowie FK2
Keyboard: Vortex POK3R White LE Frosted
Mousepad: ZOWIE G-SR
Monitor: BenQ XL2540 – 240hz
Headset: Hyper X Cloud II
While you won’t see a pro Overwatch player using a ten dollar mouse and a basic wireless keyboard, you also won’t see them testing out every single keyboard, mouse and monitor on the market.
It’s pretty difficult to test out a lot of different gaming products. Gamers often stick with what was first comfortable or what was given to them by sponsors.
As long as you’re shopping within the gaming products line, the differences between everything is pretty minimal and subjective.
GET BETTER AT LEARNING IN OVERWATCH
Now that you’re geared up, let’s look at some more things you can start focusing on outside of Overwatch to start getting better inside of Overwatch.
When I ask gamers, “what’s the number one thing that separates esports from more traditional sports?” I get all sorts of answers. Some say it’s static, meaning the athletes don’t really move much.
Some say it’s more like chess as strategy trumps physical preparedness.
Whatever the answer I get, it’s almost always wrong (well, in my opinion).
The number one thing that separates esports from traditional sports is learning.
Hear me out. Let’s take chess for example since I already mentioned it. There are chess masters who have literally dedicated their lives to chess (but for some reason that’s more acceptable over gaming).
Chess can seem complicated at first, especially when learning as a child. But over time, you start to understand the fundamentals. Chess masters get to a point where they are more akin to a computer as they can visualize almost every possible move in the game.
Ok ok, so what’s my point? Well, imagine if chess received “patches” or “updates” every few weeks. Imagine if one month the horse moved in an “L” shape then the next month the horse moved in a “C” shape.
See where I’m going with this?
Overwatch gets patched/updated on a fairly regular basis. It doesn’t change as much as some games did. LoL, for example, used to get patched every two weeks requiring the players to constantly learn new meta.
The fundamental skill of learning is not required in more traditional sports the way it is in esports. Athletes are able to reach a certain point of mastery that results in less time spent on skill development.
This allows athletes to focus more on building up weaknesses to reduce injuries and to spend time in other meaningful activities outside of sports.
Not so much in esports. This explains why some Overwatch players feel the need to practice all day. If you want to be a professional Overwatch player it’s not enough to be the best at the current version, you need to continue being the best at every new version that comes out.
You can stay up to date on Overwatch updates by following their official Twitter account.
GET MORE EFFECTIVE AT PRACTICE IN OVERWATCH
Part of getting better at learning is getting better at practicing. Esports has a long way to go in its sport-specific training. If developers worked more closely with professional Overwatch players then training tools could be developed to allow players to practice specific skills rather than being forced to play entire matches for an opportunity to practice one thing.
Getting more effective at practice means getting more done in less time. It is trying to get the same amount accomplished in two hours instead of something like six hours.
Consider this. When you first started playing Overwatch, how much of it was new to you? All of it I assume. And what happened? You learned tons of stuff really fast.
Then, as you played more, the excitement of something new probably died off, you memorized all the maps and weapons and you probably started learning a lot less even though you were spending more time playing.
Now, think of why you were learning so much so fast at the beginning of Overwatch. What does a new game, especially a competitive one like Overwatch require from the very start?
Focus. You were 100% focused when you first started playing Overwatch because you had to be.
As time went on and you became much more proficient, you probably started focusing a lot less, you started developing muscle memory with various movements and you started to just sort of sleepwalk your way through practices and matches thinking that if you just put in the time you would automatically get better.
Most people have heard the old sports saying, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”. And what this quote is trying to get across is the point that practice requires so much more than just time.
Perfect practice means one must go into a practice or training session with motivation, focus, goals, intentions and a clear plan on what the training is for, and what is meant to be achieved with the training.
Powerlifters will often have every movement, every set and every rep mapped out for several months of their training and there is clear reasoning behind all of it.
Competitive gamers, especially Overwatch players, often just go through match after match after match with no real intentions. They might think that if they play ten hours instead of five they are going to become better.
What they neglect to consider is that those extra five hours could be forming bad habits and are most likely responsible for burnout and injury.
There is something called “the law of accommodation”. Vladimir M Zatsiorsky, a renowned biochemist, stated that the response of a biological object to a given constant stimulus decreases over time.
What does this mean in the sports world? When an athlete does the same activity over and over, they will plateau, and potentially get worse at the activity. A basketball player doesn’t just shoot a three-pointer and run layup drills for eight hours a day, and an Olympic weightlifter doesn’t just do snatches and clean and jerks.
In the esports world, this could mean that spending more time in a game is not necessarily better than spending less (in fact, it could be worse). There is an optimal range for practicing any given activity.
If you could get the same results with 3 hours of practice instead of 8, you’ve now gained 5 hours to spend on injury prevention, demo watching and recovery.
START TRAINING LIKE AN ATHLETE FOR OVERWATCH
If esports are real sports and if gamers are athletes then start training like one.
This is an area where I see many Overwatch players go wrong. They still think “more is better” with regard to playing Overwatch and often neglect all other areas of competitive training.
If you disagree with my initial statement about sports and athletes, I suggest you check out my post Should Pro Gaming be Considered a Real Sport?
In that post, I discuss some of the findings from Professor Ingo Froböse who has been studying esports and esports athletes at the German Sports University of Cologne for over five years now.
I think you may be surprised to find out how demanding competitive gaming really is, especially at the elite level. And you may be shocked to realize just how unprepared esports athletes are both physically and mentally for their esport.
Now, similar to my discussion on how to learn better, training like an athlete may require you to learn how an athlete trains. Regarding esports, psychology and the mental side of things is very important.
Professional esports teams are starting to recognize the value of hiring sports psychologists.
I’m a registered social worker with a master’s in social work. I’ve practiced psychotherapy and have been amazed at the amount of baggage the average person walks around with day to day.
For an athlete, this can be extremely detrimental to performance. It can sometimes be the explanation for why a top-level player chokes during finals.
There’s also the physical side of training like an athlete. Is physical training absolutely necessary for esports? Clearly no, as many pros neglect physical training but excel in their esport. But esports is still in its infancy stage and has a lot to learn with sport-specific training.
The truth is, esports careers can be short-lived. Some say the average pro career is less than 2 years for LoL. CS:GO and other FPS pros seem to last a little longer, but it’s still kind of rare to find someone approaching 30 years of age.
Could a lack of physical preparedness explain this? Possibly. For a more in-depth discussion on gaming injuries, check out my post Pro Gaming Injuries – What Gamers Need to Know.
Humans aren’t meant to use a computer for hours on end. If, after reading this, you still decide that exercising isn’t for you, at least try to move more often. Ten to fifteen minutes of walking around per every hour of sitting is a fantastic protocol, but you actually have to do it.
In case those esports injuries made you panic you can check out some esport specific training tips on the Cyber Athletiks Youtube channel.
DEVELOP A PERSONALITY AND REPUTATION IN OVERWATCH
You have to put your “print” on the game, every game, especially if you’re playing with top players. Even something as simple as Stewie2k who became known as the aggressive onliner who jumped through smokes for CS:GO.
Think about your favourite gamers, why do you like them? Is it just about their skill? Would you watch them on stream even if they were silent the whole time? If so, would you still watch a robot who had skill?
The point I’m trying to make is that there is probably a lot more to why you like your favourite esports athletes other than their ingame skill. Perhaps they always give funny interviews. Or maybe they’re a genuinely nice person on stream.
Heck, maybe you like the trash-talking “jock” type of player. Whatever the reason, there’s still a reason beyond them just being good.
START STREAMING OVERWATCH
This is a great way to help develop a personality. A lot of people are intimidated by streaming and for good reason. Streaming opens you up to the world. Even my first youtube video was very uncomfortable for me to make, I couldn’t stop thinking about who is going to be watching it.
But like most things, it will get easier with time and practice. Streaming is also a great way to start getting comfortable with an audience. Being a professional gamer means the additional stress of performing in front of others. This “performance” is a skill in itself.
It’s ok if you only have a few viewers for months on end. No one is going to notice you if they can’t find you. It could be a couple of years before you even have a respectable audience. This is online marketing 101, it takes time and patience, that’s why most people never make money online, they give up after they didn’t become a millionaire in two months.
BECOME A TEAM PLAYER IN OVERWATCH
Overwatch is a team-based game and you need to communicate. Over in my Recommended Gear ‘Knowledge’ section, I have some book recommendations for learning how to communicate better. One of which is “Say What You Mean” by Joseph Goldstein.
This book is often reviewed as the book for developing better interpersonal communication. Every Overwatch player should read this book if they’re serious about being competitive.
Learning how to communicate better also helps reduce player tension and problems between team members. Disputes are often caused by misunderstanding and inabilities to communicate what one really means.
This inability to truly communicate causes frustration within ourselves and for others. And don’t think I’m saying this because Overwatch has so many young professionals, most full-grown adults are terrible at communicating as well.
ATTEND LOCAL OVERWATCH TOURNAMENTS
Competing in tournaments is a skill in itself. There’s going to be a different kind of pressure and you’re going to need to play for extended periods of time while consistently performing well.
Having more tournament experience under your belt will make you more appealing to teams looking for new players. It’s one thing to dominate Overwatch in the comfort of your room or at home, but it’s a whole different game when you’re attending an actual tournament.
The last thing you want recruiters or scouts thinking is, “but can they do that on stage?”.
The same goes for other sports like powerlifting actually. Lots of people post their biggest lifts on Instagram or Youtube, but when it comes time to compete in a tournament, they choke because they haven’t practiced the skill of official competition enough.
I wrote a post with some tips for entering your first competitive gaming tournament that you can check out here. Since I don’t know where you live, I can’t really recommend a local tournament for you.
That’s going to be up to you, but I imagine your city’s Reddit page would have a posting for an Overwatch tournament. When in doubt, just google “[your city] Overwatch tournament”. If you’re looking to get some more online tournament experience try searching Battlefy’s listings by clicking here.
If you’re already a serious Overwatch player, hopefully, you know by now that your goal should be making it to the OWL and that you probably need to start with the Overwatch Open.
FACE THE FACTS FOR BECOMING A Overwatch PRO
In one of my early posts How To Become A Pro Gamer – What No One Ever Tells You I discuss some of the darker realities of being a pro gamer, or at least aspects of pro gaming that many young gamers don’t consider.
For a great inside look at the trials and tribulations of being a pro gamer, check out “Free to Play“, a documentary that follows three Dota 2 players: “Fear”, “hyhy” and “Dendi”.
Once you are a professional gamer getting paid by both an organization and sponsors, there are numerous expectations placed on you. Being a professional anything inherently means there are certain expectations placed on you and that you will have to make sacrifices.
Being a professional gamer requires an immense amount of dedication. Pro gamers competing in esports want to be the best, and if that doesn’t describe you, then you won’t last long.
At the time of writing this post (April 2019) Overwatch has an estimated 40 million users. Granted, many of these users aren’t “competitive” in the true sense, but there’s still a lot of players dreaming about making it to the OWL and winning some big tournament money one day.
The exact number of pro Overwatch players is difficult to determine. But let’s compare it to League of Legends which has roughly 100 million players and roughly a thousand professional players.
That means 1 out of every 100,000 players will become pro. That’s significantly less than a 1% chance. We can be generous and apply the same odds to Overwatch even though LoL has a much more established professional scene than Overwatch.
But think of it like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play. And even if you don’t become a professional Overwatch player in the “true” sense, there’s still plenty of money to be won.
HOW MUCH DO PRO OVERWATCH PLAYERS MAKE?
If you are trying to be a pro Overwatch player then you’re probably wondering if it’s even worth it. Here are some of the top earnings for pro Overwatch players. Keep in mind, this is purely tournament winnings:
Just in case you aren’t aware, Overwatch is by no means the “big player” in esports. Several other esports are far more lucrative if we’re talking about professional earnings and potential annual tournament winnings. This chart represents the total awarded money to date for each esport:
Overwatch is still really new to the scene but has already awarded almost $15,000,000 in tournament prize money.
CONSIDER VARSITY ESPORTS FOR OVERWATCH
Varsity esports has been exploding over the last few years. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was officially formed in July 2016. When they first formed, there were only 7 colleges/universities that had esports programs.
Over 100 institutions now have varsity esports teams. More and more schools in the US are contemplating how they can create their own teams and enter the esports industry. Hiring your own coach doesn’t seem so silly now does it?
Especially if it could help get you a scholarship specifically for Overwatch.
I also wrote a whole post on Scholarships for Gamers – Can Esports Pay for College? I go in depth more on the emerging varsity esports scene and why varsity esports may be a better option for gamers who are trying to become a pro.
CONSIDER LIFE AFTER ESPORTS AND OVERWATCH
Esports and Overwatch won’t fulfill you forever. As you continue to grow older and develop as a person you’re going to find that esports doesn’t fulfill you and your life in the same way that it does now. I’m not saying you’ll get bored of gaming, I’m merely pointing out that you are going to find yourself searching for other ways to find meaning in your life that aren’t esports. For a great book on how athletes can focus on what really matters in life while trying to be the best, check out Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden which I have in my Recommended Gear ‘Knowledge’ section.
LEARN FROM BIOFROST AND FATAL1TY
The typical guide, article or video on “how to become a pro gamer” often insinuates that one must give up everything and focus entirely on their esport.
This is just plain false and this kind of thinking isn’t found in the more traditional sports world (well, not to the same extreme).
Sure, there will be sacrifices. When I started this website I sacrificed a lot of my recreational time that would have otherwise been spent gaming or being outdoors. But if you sacrifice everything, you’re not really doing yourself any favours.
Humans try to live fulfilling lives and we often operate best the more fulfilled we are.
Unless your esport fulfills every facet of your life, you’re going to run into problems if you do nothing else except game. In fact, I would argue that your performance will suffer as your mental and physical health will start to decline.
The more you are able to stay productive in other areas of your life while still being competitive, the better off you’ll be. But figuring out how to do that is ultimately on you.
A great resource for learning how to become pro is to learn from those who have done it really well.
BIOFROST – MOBA
In case you think I’m just dreaming this stuff up I want to discuss a real-life example that can be found in the story of Vincent “Biofrost” Wang.
Biofrost was a rookie support player that made his debut on TSM and went on to place first at the LCS and competed at worlds in 2016.
While Biofrost was climbing the ranks he continued with University, completing two years before dropping out to become a professional gamer. He remained social and saw value in sustaining the friendships he had.
Biofrost juggled multiple responsibilities while still climbing the ranks of LoL and breaking into the professional scene.
This allowed Biofrost to be so much more than a “one-trick pony”. He effectively juggled multiple responsibilities with social skills, academic skills and more. He had the ability to focus on one thing, stop, then focus on another thing and achieve success in multiple areas.
Who do you think is more attractive to an organization, team, sponsor, or college? The person who’s always lived with their parents and spends sixteen hours a day practicing, or the person who has been able to achieve success both inside and outside of esports?
FATAL1TY – FPS
Nowadays, you don’t see players switching between games very often. Some streamers like Shroud have been successful, but they’re typically the exception.
Some of you may not be aware of one of the greatest esports athletes of all time, Fatal1ty. Fatal1ty was a professional gamer before professional gaming was “cool”. He turned pro in 1999 at the age of 18.
Fatal1ty won several world championships and won or placed extremely well in many more tournaments. Here’s a list of some of the games Fatal1ty competed in:
- Quake 2
- Quake 3
- Aliens versus Predator 2
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- Call of Duty 2
- Counter-Strike: Source
- Unreal Tournament 2003
- Doom 3
- Quake 4
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
For a more in-depth look at Fatl1ty’s legacy, check out the ‘Thorin’s Thoughts’ video below on him. You can also check the MTV’S True Life on Fatal1ty by clicking here.
It gives a good look into how serious Fatal1ty takes his training and the professional side of gaming. Show some support to an OG and go subscribe to his Youtube channel. He’s still active and fragging in many different titles.
Fatal1ty was extremely dedicated to esports.
He took it seriously and everything he did outside of gaming was done with the intention of boosting ingame performance. What strikes me, given his young age, is how “professional” he was with being a professional gamer.
If you didn’t know he was gaming you’d think he was an athlete in any other type of sport.
Keep in mind, Fatal1ty succeeded during a time when esports was still relatively underground.
There was no twitch or social media or sponsors actively looking for gamers (or even fancy gaming chairs).
So there you have it. This post focused primarily on what players can do outside of Overwatch in order to improve inside of Overwatch and increase their chances of becoming pro.
In fact, that’s what Cyber Athletiks is all about—Esport Specific Training. Every sport has a specific way to train for it and esports should be no different.
If you’re finding yourself stuck or plateauing even though you are increasing the amount of time you’re playing Overwatch, then consider implementing the above tips.
But if you liked these type of tips then check out my post How to Become a Pro Gamer – ULTIMATE Guide where I go a little deeper into this sort of stuff.
In case you came for more generic tips on how to be a pro Overwatch player, I’ve had someone write up some tips you can check out down below.
For many of us older folks, growing up as a gamer was hard. Our parents often scoffed at our mass of logged hours in-game. Our victories for beating tough levels were ignored by the “cool” kids. Who knew that just a decade or two later professional gaming would be a thing?
Duh. Gamers did! And here we are now with esports paying people to play, gathering endorsements from major corporations, and even handing out scholarships to the best of the best. Who’d of thought?
So, here are some tips on how to become a pro Overwatch player:
- Get a PC
- Take care of your body
- Diversify your practice
- Choose a role, not a character
- Study Overwatch
- Join a team
- Compete in tournaments
- Join Overwatch Open
Getting Started with Overwatch
This is a fast-track guide to becoming a pro esports player, so be prepared for some tough words. You won’t do this in one night, but if you follow this guide, you’ll be able to go pro in no time.
Get A PC
While I don’t have anything against consoles, there are no serious pro Overwatch leagues on the console. If you want to go pro, you will have to get on a PC.
The upside to this is that you don’t need a monster machine to begin training to become a pro Overwatch player. The game is designed to run on a PC with fairly low specs. That means you can still start out quickly even if you don’t have a lot of cash, sponsorships, or someone else funding it for you.
Minimum System Requirements for Overwatch
- Operating System: Windows Vista/7/ 8/10 64-bit with latest Service Pack
- Processor: Intel Core i3 or AMD Phenom X3 865
- Video Configuration: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460, ATI Radeon HD 4850, or Intel HD Graphics 4400
- RAM: 768 MB VRAM, 4GB Memory
- Space Required: 7200 RPM with 5GB Available Storage
Compared to today’s high-end gaming rigs, these minimum requirements should be easy and affordable to get. Purchase wisely, and you will be able to upgrade each part of your computer over time to eventually meet and exceed the recommended specs below.
Recommended System Requirements for Overwatch
- Operating system: Windows Vista/7/ 8/10 64-bit with latest Service Pack
- Processor: Intel Core i5 or AMD Phenom II X3, 2.8 GHz
- Video Configuration: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or ATI Radeon HD 7950
- RAM: 2 GB VRAM, 6 GB Memory
- Space Required: 7200 RPM with 5GB Available Storage
How to Get A Killer PC if You Are Poor
Long ago, back when I was washing dishes for $6.35 an hour, I had to scrimp and save to upgrade my gaming rig. I was serious about dominating Counter-Strike, so I made some sacrifices in the real world. Once I focused on my dream of going pro, it didn’t take long to save enough to upgrade my equipment.
If affording a high-end gaming PC seems out of reach for you, consider asking friends and family for donations toward your computer. You can ask for specific upgraded computer parts for holidays and birthdays, too.
Scour sale groups online for specific parts—many people will piece out their computers when they hit hard times. You might as well cash in on that.
Practice Until Your Eyes Bleed, Then Practice Some more
I’m not suggesting you actually play until you do bodily harm to yourself. I simply mean that going pro is going to take a lot of effort on your part. Assuming you love playing Overwatch, this shouldn’t be torture.
An hour a day isn’t going to cut it. If you’re serious about becoming a pro Overwatch player, you’re going to need to put in serious time to get better and climb the amateur ranks faster.
Job, family, and responsibilities will need to be taken into consideration, of course, but if you want to make money playing Overwatch, practice will need to move up your priority list, which inevitably means making sacrifices in other areas of your life.
Take Care of Your Body
Sitting in a chair or on your couch all day will make a mess of your body. You need to eat well, sleep well, and take the time for physical training. If you want to be considered an athlete, then start training like one. Athletes put in a lot of work outside of their sport.
The last thing you want is a preventable injury a few days before a tournament. Start here and here for some simple and basic health tips to start thinking about what you can improve outside of your gaming to boost performance inside of your gaming. Come back to our Athletiks page to see the latest posts about esport specific training.
Focus on stretches, breathing, and getting your blood moving. The last thing you need is a deep vein thrombosis sidelining you.
Diversify Your Practice Time
Playing at the same time on the same days each week isn’t going to help. You need to diversify your game time. That means you need to play at different times of day on different days of the week.
Why? Because when you go pro, you’ll be playing against people from all walks of life, all playstyles, and they’ll all have their own tricks up their sleeves. You need to practice playing against all those people and all those tricks before you go pro or you will be caught off guard and slaughtered.
Choose Your Role, Not Your Characters
Nobody wants to get stuck with characters they hate to play or a role that they’re just not good with. Pro Overwatch players will need to be versatile to fit in with a team, but most will need to focus on a single main role.
Try out every character in the game. After a few hours with each one, you should be able to narrow your favorite role down to just one or two. Now play every character in that role for another couple hours.
You can select a secondary role, but it’s not always wise at this stage. You’ll need to figure out what works for you and your available practice time.
The fewer roles you choose, the more time you’ll have to spend on perfecting each character in that role. However, choosing a secondary or tertiary role to focus on gives you more versatility and increases your worth in a professional esports league. Just don’t spread yourself too thin.
A Jack of all trades is a master of none.
Study Overwatch in All Forms
It’s going to take more than lots of practice to make it as a pro Overwatch player. The best of the best spend just as much time researching as they do playing. There will never be a time in your Overwatch career that you should not be watching other people play or looking up tricks, tips, and news.
Here’s how to study:
Learn the Basics, Even if You Think You Already Did
Even if you’ve been playing Overwatch for months or years, I guarantee you’ve missed something. Maybe you forgot a very basic tactic or didn’t quite get the hang of a character’s less-amazing abilities. Whatever it is, go back to the beginning and give yourself a refresher course.
Do that every few months. This is especially important for games like Overwatch that often do sweeping changes and updates.
The most basic step in preparing for your professional Overwatch career is to watch other players in-game. Fire up Youtube or Twitch to watch awesome players kick ass (I’ve really enjoyed watching”xQc” streams).
You can also learn a lot by watching newbies epically fail. Watch players who aren’t as good as you and see if you can spot their mistakes. Once you find the mistakes, pretend you’re going to help them. Teaching something is a great way to learn, as it forces you to think deeper about the subject…
Take notes of everything you see, good and bad. Graph out the plays, who beat who, what techniques worked well and which just blew.
Yeah, it sounds like homework… because it is homework. You can’t win if you don’t understand how other players play. Look for weaknesses, patterns, and problems. Then figure out how to exploit those human mistakes.
Even just checking out montages of amazing plays can give you some quick ideas on what to start working on.
Watch and Read Tutorials
Once you’ve selected your favorite characters, read every tutorial you can find. Watch every video tutorial ever created. Take more notes.
I don’t care how good you think you are. There will always be someone better than you. Don’t get yourself all worked up and angry over it, turn that rage into action and study their moves.
Join Teams or Start One
At some point, you’re going to begin making a name for yourself. Start adding friends, actively searching for new ones, and working on maintaining your in-game relationships. Your presence will grow and people will recognize you.
If you can, join a team and get serious about working together. If you’d rather skip the tryouts, you can start your own. Either method can work, but ditch a crappy team that doesn’t play well together or ends up dead last most of the time. For more on joining teams, check out my ‘How to Join Esports‘ post.
Scout Out and Compete in Online Tournaments
Once you have your team, look for online tournaments. These may or may not have monetary prizes. At this stage, however, don’t focus on just making money. This is a great time to expand your reach and network like a boss.
Meet new people, compete with new opponents, and get into the feel of how truly competitive play will look. Some of these are still amateur leagues, but you’re getting closer. This is where you start to make a real name for yourself.
If you can get into the lower end pro leagues at this stage, congratulate yourself. Then get your butt back on your rig and keep fighting. You’re so close.
Join the Overwatch Open Division
One of the newest fast-tracks to becoming a pro Overwatch player is the Overwatch Open Division. You can go in as a solo-queue player and work your way up the ladder. Overwatch League scouts are starting to pay attention here, so get your head in the game and make this happen.
Play well and dominate in the Open Division and you may be sitting pretty in the expanded Overwatch Contenders in no time. Keep pushing and you can impress the Overwatch League scouts. Even if you fall short of making a pro Overwatch esports team, you may still be able to get a scholarship for a varsity esports team.
Go for a Scholarship
You might be thinking you’re better off to invest your time and energy into esports and only esports. After all, if you’re going to be pro, why do you need to go to college as well?
The truth is, esports careers can be short-lived. Some say the average pro career is less than 2 years for LoL. CS:GO and other FPS pros seem to last a little longer, but it’s still rare to find someone approaching 30 years of age.
I firmly believe esports players could prolong their careers if their organizations and coaches treated esports players more like athletes. For a more detailed discussion on whether esports should be considered a sport, and whether gamers are athletes, check out this post.
Whatever the actual average is for a professional career in esports, most will agree it’s short. Don’t be disheartened, the average career for an NFL running back is barely over 3 years.
The odds of going pro in esports are slim and even if you make it, you may not last long. You need to have a plan B and an esports scholarship is a great opportunity. Not only will you get to compete on a varsity team, but you will be setting yourself up for life after esports.
You are going to be a different person when you’re in your 30’s, and although you’ll probably still love esports, they may not fulfill you in the same way they did when you were approaching your twenties.
Life after pro sports can suck for any athlete, so having opportunities to fulfill yourself and your life is an all-around good idea. If you can get an education while gaming, don’t pass that up, it is a much more lucrative option than pro gaming, at least statistically speaking.
Currently, over at University of California Irvine’s Esports, you need to be at least a Grandmaster in Overwatch. Hiring a coach (opens an affiliate link) may not be so silly after all if it could increase your odds of getting a scholarship for college.
Try out some of these suggestions and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a pro Overwatch player. Don’t be afraid to tweak these tips to fit your playstyle. And be sure you don’t ignore your physical health while you train, check out my Athletiks page for new content on esport specific training. Nobody wants to hear you gasping into your headset or complaining about a sore neck. Also, don’t forget to check out my discussion on whether being a pro gamer is right for you: How To Become A Pro Gamer – What No One Ever Tells You.
If any other tips come to mind, please, leave a comment down below!