Surviving in eSports
As everyone knows, esports is growing insanely fast. Even 5 years ago the entire scene was in a completely different state. The market, environment, and industry as a whole is maturing at quite an exponential rate. But, esports hasn't yet reached the same pinnacle as traditional sports. Without a doubt, it'll one day reach that level but it's not quite there yet.
Where does that leave the hordes of people who are looking to make a career out of esports? Struggling, mostly. There are a handful of lucky few that have found their way into the industry one way or the other, but for the vast majority it's a series of volunteer or pro bono work. That's where I currently find myself. Fighting to survive in an industry that is brutal to sustain yourself in.
For me and my future, my mantra is "survive and grow." The funding for my field hasn't opened up yet like it has for traditional sports, and the value of having a mental performance consultant and skill acquisition coach isn't yet a priority. Because of that, I'm forced into a corner where I have to make some huge sacrifices to weather out the storm. That's what it's all about, though. Whether you're wanting to buy a house, save up money for travel, start a new career, or even become a pro-player on a team like TSM, it all requires sacrifice. You have to be willing to bleed a little for the things you want.
Quite honestly, I expected that when I brought my field into esports, I would have players and teams lining up and ready to start the mental grind with me. I had one hell of a reality check very quickly after entering esports. I held that belief because I've seen the incredible ways mental skills, skill acquisition, and team dynamics training has launched people into their careers. I've watched other mental performance consultants catalyze the skill development of athletes in traditional sports and even in the business world; helping them break through plateaus to reach the next level in their craft. When I entered esports, it caught me off-guard that people were often not even interested in mental skills training for free, let alone for my regular fees. I was confused at first, but I've realized it's because esports hasn't had much exposure to mental skills training yet and there isn't that value associated to it like there is in traditional sports. Traditional sports has had decades of results from mental skills coaching and now has an intrinsic value attached to it, whereas esports is still a new industry that hasn't been exposed to all the varieties of training yet.
I have a passion for esports and I can see the industry unfolding into this beautiful community. I want to help elevate the competitive level in esports, legitimize esports as "real," and establish value to working with mental performance consultants. Regardless of the sacrifice and hard work that it takes to break into esports, my passion for it will keep me dedicated to push past the obstacles that appear. There has been times where I've felt entirely defeated and demotivated to continue, and toyed with the idea of returning to traditional sports where it's easier to find clients. That would be the easy way out and would take me away from my true passion. As I mentioned earlier, you have to be willing to bleed a little to achieve your goals. Instead of throwing myself pity parties, I'll continue to pursue my goal of creating a healthier industry, helping esport athletes reach their peak potential, and bridge the gap between the general public and esports. At the end of the day, everything is a process and I'll eventually find my footing. And the beautiful silver lining is the friendships and partnerships I've formed along the way, such as the amazing people from SxD esports and Northern Esports Academy. But for now my take away message for everyone struggling in the esports scene: survive and grow. Your struggle now is what will make you more resilient later.