Becoming successful in any discipline takes a lot of dedication and commitment - and esports are no different. If you want to become a successful esports streamer, there are certain technical skills that you will need. In addition, you also need to develop the mental abilities required to become a top performer in your field.
But what skills do you need? And how do you go about perfecting them? To answer these and other key questions, it is worth taking a peek inside the world of poker.
At first, you might wonder what poker has got to do with esports or gaming. But watch any high-level poker game and you will start to understand why the skills developed by poker players often makes them great gamers and vice versa.
Playing poker requires a huge amount of self-control. It is all too easy to get caught up in the moment and make decisions based on impulse rather than logic. Instead, the best poker players are completely unaffected by what is going on around them - they just see the players, the cards and the stakes, and make calculated calls based on the information available. They avoid making rash decisions, following their gut instinct or betting on a whim. Every decision they make has a method and reason behind it. Only by retaining a high level of self-control can they learn to read the game and make the right calls at the right time.
Another skill that top poker players possess is the ability to stay focused under pressure. Having self-control is one thing but when the pressure starts to mount, some players may not be able to think clearly and start to make mistakes. Getting affected by pressure may be a different experience from getting overexcited but the results can be similar, with poor decision-making leading to a downward spiral of bad calls. Pressure can lead to a domino-like collapse of confidence and mental fortitude.
As you can see, many of the similarities between poker skills and esports are related to mentality, and this next one is no exception. Like esports streamers, poker players need to outwit their opponents. Mind-gaming is one of the most well-known features of poker. Players will attempt to bluff each other out of the game or hustle their opponents by under-playing a strong hand before striking when the time is right. When all eyes are on the pot, top players will use any skill at their disposal to be the last person standing.
The phrase "poker face" has entered into everyday language for good reason. In the 1920s, American sportswriters used it away from the card table for the first time to describe competitors who appeared totally calm under pressure. It has since been adopted by the corporate world to describe those who are adept at holding their nerve in sales negotiations; it has also, of course, been used in a well-known pop song.
But perhaps the best lesson esports streamer can learn from the poker world is the ability and willingness to grind out countless hours at a time to achieve their goals. Mental endurance is so important to online and live poker players that there have been many excellent articles written about it. The rise of online poker has given players 24/7 access to games such as Texas hold’em, 7-card stud, Omaha hi/lo and stud poker, so it is more important than ever for players to manage their mental energy correctly. Nobody has limitless energy and our daily lives can also affect the amount of energy and mental clarity we have available at any one time.
For players who are committed to a game but do not want to try and force things to happen, having the ability to mentally outpace their opponent is a massive asset. To achieve this level, top players engage in a kind of training regime where they build up their endurance to the level required. This involves getting the right amount of rest, slowly increasing the amount of time spent playing, identifying and correcting weaknesses in their game, and keeping track of their progress.
Making the crossover
The link between the skills required to compete in the two disciplines can best be highlighted by looking at players that have crossed over from one game to the other. Many players have made the switch but the best example is Bertrand Grospellier, also known as ElkY. The Frenchman started out playing esports such as Starcraft: Brood War and Warcraft III before making the switch to the poker circuit, where he became a Triple Crown winner by recording victories on the World Poker Tour (WPT), the World Series of Poker (WSOP) the European Poker Tour (EPT). He then returned to the esports scene joining Team Liquid as a Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft player in 2015.
Finding a sponsor
Once a player has mastered the skills required to be an esport streamer, the next step will be to find sponsorship. This can be harder than it sounds. Much like in the world of poker, there are plenty of other teams, streamers, and tournaments in the hunt for sponsors, so it might take some work to get the right backing. And in the current market, the sponsors have the upper hand.
Before a player reaches out to potential backers, they need to decide what they are looking for in a sponsor. A title sponsor will demand a high level of exclusiveness but will pay more. A general sponsor will pay less but give a little more flexibility in working with other brands. An official sponsor will pay even less but might help you cover basic costs. Finally, a technical sponsor might simply help out with clothes, equipment or services.
A player must decide what they want and also consider what they can offer a sponsor. The agreement has to be mutually beneficial. Once this has been established then it is time to reach out. This can be done by sending out comprehensive emails outlining your experience, achievements, fan base and ambitions and asking for more details about the brand’s sponsorship requirements.
As a final point, remember that brands are interested in professionalism as well as sportsmanship, so this has to come across in any communications. Players should also ensure that their activity on social media channels is not likely to cause controversy or offense as sponsors will vet your previous behavior. Now, do you have what it takes to be successful at esports?
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