Waking up in the early afternoon. Spending the entire day at home on popular computer game CounterStrike – with like-minded people. Going to bed eventually around 2am.
This may sound like the dream life for many.
But for professional gamers, such as CounterStrike’s legendary Patrik “cArn” Sattermon and Jonatan “Devilwalk” Lundberg – who are both from the world’s best and most recognised eSports team, Fnatic – this childhood dream has become their reality.
MSI Beat IT Pro-Gamer’s Gathering was held earlier this week
Patrik and Jonatan were at the MSI Beat IT Pro-Gamer’s Gathering, which was held earlier this week at E2Max @ Cine, to meet and interact with fans, as well as to answer questions from the media about professional gaming.
They were also accompanied by Eugene “qu|kZ” Tay, from Bf.Nut – one of Singapore’s top eSports teams and Prasad “StrykerX” Paramajothi, formally a team captain of his own team called “TitaNs eSport”, which was the first and most successful professional gaming team in Singapore.
Eye opening to get a glimpse into a pro gamer’s lifestyle
It was indeed an eye-opener to get a glimpse into the lifestyles of these professional gamers – and the challenges that they have had to endure as well as the sacrifices required of them, to get to the top.
Necessary to make sacrifices to get to the top
All these pro-gamers have made many sacrifices, in terms of their personal and leisure lives, to achieve the successes that they are enjoying today.
Said Prasad, “Many people want to be a professional gamer, but they are not willing to make sacrifices to get to the top. But let me tell you that it is not possible to be a gamer and have a social life too. You are either a professional gamer, or you have a social life with a job like everyone else.”
Added Eugene, “Parents also think that gaming is a waste of time. They see it as an addiction and think their kids won’t be able to balance gaming with their other commitments.”
Pressure from parents
In fact, Eugene’s mother even used to search for him at LAN cafes in the past – and always used to angrily pull him up by the ear whenever she found him gaming. She would then tell him that he would have to stop playing, as she had thought that he did not have any future in gaming.
“But today, she says that she supports me. She’ll ask how it’s going and all, but at the end of the day, I suppose that she’s always wanted to see that I am surviving and that the money is coming in,” said Eugene.
Pressures he faced were from the society
For Patrik, who is from Sweden, the pressures that he had faced when embarking on his early gaming career were more from the society than his family.
He said, “When I started out, there were not many people doing gaming as a career. I used to play computer games every single day, about 10 hours a day, and people were asking me why I was wasting time by doing this.”
Many thought that eSports was like gambling
Patrik also added that up to about five or six years ago, many people thought that eSports was a form of gambling – but this stereotype too, is gradually changing, with eSports becoming more and more established around the world – especially in Europe and America.
Gaming addiction and eSports
Besides being associated with gambling, there are also the misconceptions that those who play games are addicted to it. Said Eugene, “People assume that a person is playing a game because he is addicted to it.”
Added Prasad, “But there is more structure to professional gaming than that. You can’t become a good gamer just by being addicted to a game.” Rather, professional gamers know how to take a break from playing the game – to discuss strategies with their team members and understand how the scene of eSports is changing – unlike game addicts.
Lack of physical activity
Apart from supposedly being ‘addicted’ to a game, many people also believe that pro gamers have a specific type of appearance, according to Jonatan. He said, “People also think that a pro gamer is someone with a pimply face and wears glasses and sits in the basement doing nothing but playing games all day.”
However, Patrik does admit that the physical inactivity and lack of good health is indeed one of the downsides to eSports. “But I think that is remedied by shifting gear and incorporating physical exercise, as well as not smoking and drinking,” he said.
Pro-Gamers face mental stress
In fact, Patrik himself has always put in the effort to go out for runs – to keep his own body healthy, and to provide escapism from the huge amounts of mental stress that a pro gamer typically faces.
Said Patrik, “Pro gaming is a sport of the mind and with many gamers playing about 12 to 14 hours per day with limited sleep, and surviving on Red Bull. That’s not healthy. At one moment in my career, my body was acting strange from the stress, too.”
Agreed Jonatan, “It can be mentally stressful when I’m practising very hard and I don’t get results. But it also happens to athletes in physical sports like tennis and football, as well – when their muscles get torn and they get injuries, from overexertion. But when I feel down during training sessions, I keep going and look at the things that motivates me.”
But despite the life of a pro-gamer not being as glamorous and exciting as it appears to be from the outside, these gamers have no regrets about the life that they have chosen to lead.
Said Patrik, “I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, realising that I did something that most people couldn’t. I pursued a dream of mine, to play computer games for a living – and I achieved it.”
Earnings of professional gamers
As a professional gamer, Patrik says that it’s possible to earn about USD$8,000 to USD$10,000 per month – with 85 to 90 per cent of this figure coming from sponsorships. However, this doesn’t include prize money for winning major tournaments – which can give a gamer about USD$100,000 extra, as a bonus.
“Over the past five or six years, the eSports landscape has changed, and earnings of gamers today are getting more and more ridiculous. Companies are also more loyal in terms of sponsoring a gamer they like these days,” Patrik added.
Tips from the experts
What tips do these professionals have, for aspiring youngsters who are hoping to make it big in eSports – and earn these exorbitant salaries at the same time?
Said Patrik, “It is all about having fun and finding the passion. Ask yourself if this is really what you want to do and the reasons why you really want a career in eSports. Most importantly, find people who are on the same page as you and who will support you.”
Agreed Jonatan, “You must like the game you are playing, too. Make sure that you put in effort and dedication to improve every day and you will keep on getting better. Also, if you want to be a champion, you must surround yourself with champions. You must also always remember that if you want to be successful, you must make a lot of sacrifices to get up there.”