Professional esports players have intense focus and devotion. They’re able to dedicate most of their waking hours to training their skills, without losing motivation. They’re fully locked onto a target, of becoming the best player or winning a major tournament. And no matter what, they’re unwilling to stray from this goal until they achieve it.
As an ambitious gamer you’ve probably been inspired by a pro players who are like this, and thought to yourself “I want to become a pro gamer”. But chances are, your next step was to hop into a normal match, where you played as usual, and slowly let that goal drift into the back of your mind. This process isn’t uncommon. Most ambitious competitive players are aimlessly playing with a distant hope of reaching the pro scene, yet are on-track to get distracted, hit obstacles and lose their motivation.
And the reason is that they don’t have an actual plan or proper goal for achieving their dream. And the first step to becoming a pro gamer is creating a proper plan to get there. Think of the journey to the pro scene like an adventure across the ocean. You need to properly set your course, identify your path to success, and implement the proper plan to getting there.
Without setting your course or having a plan of action, you are essentially sailing off in a random direction without a clear path or destination. But when you know exactly where you want to go, and how to get there, the journey becomes much easier and much faster. So if you have the ambition or distant dream of becoming a professional esports player, then it’s time to start turning that dream into action, it’s time to plan your path to the pro scene!
A human brain is a complex machine, collecting tons of information through each of our senses. But if we were constantly aware of all this incoming data, constantly noticing every inch of our skin, every slight scent, everything we heard and saw, the mind would be overwhelmed with information. And so through a section of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS), the brain determines what information is relevant and worth keeping, and what we can ignore. A perfect example of your RAC at work is when you discover something new and you start noticing it everywhere. Like when someone in your family gets a new car, and suddenly you seem to see that exact car all the time.
And this part of the brain is what makes setting goals so powerful. When you set a compelling goal and constantly keep it in your focus, you begin to influence your RAC to help you achieve that goal faster. Your RAC begins to filter out other distractions and increases your awareness of opportunities in favor of your goal. In other words, by setting a goal, you can essentially program your brain to enhance your focus and discover new opportunities to get closer to a pro level.
So the first step to becoming a pro gamer is to define your objectives, then clarify what it will take to achieve them. A by-product of this process is that you will program your brain to subconsciously discover new opportunities and stay focused on improving.
But the biggest problem that most people make when setting their goals is that they set their aim too low. Because most people are convinced they can only accomplish mediocre things, they tend to set mediocre goals, and then struggle to actually achieve them. And this rarely works for the simple reason that if we choose a realistic goal, we won’t have the enthusiasm to jump over the smallest hurdles to accomplish it. But if we have a clear, exciting goal, we will be willing to battle through anything in order to achieve it.
So the first step to setting your goals is to make sure you’re setting your aims high and creating plans to reach an exciting destination: whether that’s to win a specific LAN tournament, get a college scholarship for esports, or make it onto a prestigious team. Let this big goal be your guiding star for your smaller goals. Let it act as the compelling destination that will make all the effort worth it! The second step is to break this big, long-term goals into smaller steps. What steps do you need to take in order to get to this point?
For example, step one might consist of achieving a certain rank and level of skill. Step two may be to find a semi-pro team that you can enter tournaments with. Step three might be to enter local tournaments or online tournaments to build a track record. And step four may be to reach out to pro level teams once you have a tournament track record and leaderboard ranking that they can’t refuse.
So once you have your overarching long-term goal and your general steps to achieve it, it’s time to break down each step into immediate, measurable goals that you can begin working towards right away.
Taking the first step as an example, you may decide that you need to achieve a master-rank in order to reach step two. With this step in mind, start brainstorming what exactly you need to do in order to achieve this rank.
Of course, to rank up you need to improve your game knowledge and mechanical skill. So consider how exactly you can do this: How many hours do you need to put in each day? What pros can you watch an emulate to learn from? What out-of-game things can you do to improve your learning ability or performance?
From this, you might identify that you can start watching a specific youtube channel that has focused guides for improvement in your game. You might watch one guide from this channel every 3 days, then dedicate the 3 days to the skill focused on in that video. You might also dedicate an average of 5 hours each day to practicing that specific skill until you’re confident in your improvement.
Alternatively, you might identify specific in-game skills such as creep score (LoL) or gun accuracy (FPS game). You know that your average accuracy is a very specific number like 18%. And you make a short-term goal to practice in a bot match for at least an hour a day, until you can improve that number by 20%.
The key here is to break down your larger goal into much smaller, immediate goals that you can actively measure and work towards each day. Since most of becoming a pro are about the skill development process, I highly recommend that you check out our 2 part series on developing your skills, which will help a bit more with this process.
So to sum up the process of creating your plan: Set a compelling, exciting, long-term goal. Like getting sponsored by a gaming organization.
Then break down that big goal into smaller steps such as: Climbing from Diamond rank to Master, then using online platforms to enter tournaments, and finally reaching out to an org, once you have a strong rank and track record. And finally, break those steps into smaller goals that you can work towards every day. Training specific skills in a measurable way, or dedicating a set amount of time each day to studying game knowledge.
To take this a step further write it all down and display it somewhere where you’ll see it every day. My personal favorite is taking a picture of my current goal and using it as the wallpaper of the lock screen on my cell phone. By displaying your goals, you are constantly reminded throughout the day of what you need to accomplish next, and you’re programming your brain to be attracted towards achievement. And of course, have something to accomplish every day – something that you can work on to get closer to your goal.
In the realm of esports, it’s hard to find an ambitious player who is equipped with the mental skills to make their dream a reality. As a result, they gain a surge of inspiration and an idea that they want to become a pro. But this dream quickly becomes a distant idea, a fleeting vision that just fizzles out. But with the proper plan of action, and conscious effort to set goals and make progress every day, an ambitious player like yourself is much more likely to discover the path to the pro scene, navigate past the biggest hurdles and actually become a professional player.