I have a burning desire to exemplify all of the lessons I have learned and show others, like myself, that competitive gaming can be so much more than its current state. There is a very small group of elite competitive or “Pro” gamers that are privileged enough to make decent living staring at a screen, changing their rosters every other day, or filling stadiums based on their actions per minute. There are thousands upon thousands of gamers all over the world that have or are currently attempting to join this small group of elite players.
The problem, like so many other similar situations, is that there is a barrier to entry with very little guidance and information on how to get there. Competitive gaming is filled with ill-informed adolescents that, with all due respect, are being taken advantage of by the leagues they so desperately want to be in their lives. I do not fully blame the leagues because the “sport” of gaming is still in its infancy stages, however the state of this continued, widespread misinformation needs to end. The elite players involved need to change their mindset, the leagues need to provide guidance, and the community as a whole needs to embrace change. That’s where Part Three of my Knowledge is Power series takes us — Sharing Knowledge.
Knowledge is Power Series:
I consider myself a craftsman, more specifically I considered Gears of War to be a game that I wanted to perfect my craft. I can honestly say, after three consecutive years of playing a single game, one becomes highly skilled in that specific game — a craftsman of sorts. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), as fate would have it, the Gears of War franchise is not exactly what I am supposed to perfect. The game isn’t currently a part of the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit, yet somehow I am still here and my voice within the competitive gaming community seems to have significantly grown.
It was a bit surprising to think about for some, but the removal of Gears of War 2 from the Pro Circuit came as no surprise to me; in fact I warned others that it would not likely return to because of how poorly the game performed at the competitive level. The thing is, I took action prior to the end of the 2009 championship and created ReflectzYn. This was my way to build upon something I haven’t quite finished. I was preparing myself and my team for the inevitable and two months after the 2009 National Championship, in March of 2010, Major League Gaming announced the removal of Gears of War from the Pro Circuit.
What I find odd is that so many players seemed surprised and became angry at the league. And when you think about it, they have every right in the world to be angry. The game had been on the circuit for three years, there were teams in place that could have been “the next” yada, yada, yada. Instead, MLG stripped their livelihood and gave those players the option to play Halo 3, Tekken, Super Smash Bros, and StarCraft II. The Pro Players received very, very little support from the leaugue. There was no guidance, there was no manual to read, and there certainly wasn’t much sympathy. The community, fans and supporters that rallied around the Gears of War Pro Players were left with a lot of questions, and like the players themselves not a lot of answers.
Not a lot of answers…that’s seems to be one of the reasons this particular blog has blossomed. I realized that there are not a lot of answers for Pro Players; not a lot of guidance for the generation of aspiring MLG Pro Players; not a lot of anything from anyone really in the whole competitive gaming scene. The trend is staggering really. How many Pro Players have you seen, willingly explain the process of acquiring a sponsor? How many Pro Players have you seen, willingly explain how they managed to penny their way to their first event? How many Pro Players have you seen, willingly provide useful information?
Okay how about this: MLG Pro Players, how many times has Major Leaugue Gaming introduced you to one of their sponsors, you know…the ones that handle team/player sponsorships? MLG Pro Players, how many times has Major League Gaming explained to you the benefits of creating other sources of income to sustain a gaming career? I honestly believe Sundance wants 100 players to be able to make a living off of gaming, but it’s not happening anytime soon.
Let’s for the sake of this article, hypothetically, state that in any given season there are over 150 Pro Players within the league. Based on the current allocation of resources and information, maybe 25-30 of those players are receiving any beneficial information from the league to further improve their careers as gamers. If we were talking percentage, that’s a whopping 16% of the Pro Players. Of that 16% there are maybe four players that the majority of gamers, not specific to that game, recognize in terms of public image and only two that I consider noteworthy: Tsquared and Walshy.
The reality of the situation is that there is not anyone providing the type of information one would need to thrive — not by a Pro Player or by staff within the League. There is this continued notion that winning equates to sponsorships, money and the preservation of gaming as a career. Take into account that the NSAN3Z, quite possibly the most marketable non-Halo team to ever grace the MLG Pro circuit, received very little of the League’s help to preserve their place amongst the elite. Two National Championships and not a whole lot to show for it. Information and guidance need to intervene at some point, either from the Leauge or from the Pro Players. Make no mistake, I’ve been to the Pro Player meetings and the discussion is never one that is truly fulfilling, nor beneficial especially to some of the players that could truly benefit.
The notion of sharing knowledge and information about how I have managed to suffice without my “craft” dawned shortly after I had written one of my Guide articles. The particular article is, “Two Way Communication: How To Get Friends And Family Involved In Your Gaming Career.” When I wrote that article, something changed. The only way I can describe it is that I realized how vulnerable our young-minded age group really is when in pursuit of a dream.
The vast majority don’t have parents, family or friends telling them the right or wrong decisions to make in Competitive Gaming. Just think, what is Competitive Gaming to family and friends? The league is not stepping up to the plate and getting involved with families — I’m sure there are some cases, but Raymond Lau doesn’t know my mom. Competitive Gaming does not have coaches at every level mentoring the progression of a gamer’s individual career, like say Football, Basketball or any other sport. There are no classes for accepting sponsorships, no one to explain how to handle tournament winnings, or tell you about the true expenses of traveling to year’s worth of events. If there is a FAQ page with that information, I would love to see it. There is just a bunch of forum posts in the MLG General Forums with half baked information that is distorted and filled with additional misinformation, trolls, and random discussion.
I decided to share my knowledge about managing my team and my general disposition towards competitive gaming because no one else is really doing it. I can literally count on one hand, the number of useful, informative resources out there for the competitive gaming communities. I’m calling out the true Pro Players to step up to the plate and inspire the youth that looks up to them. I’m tired of seeing Pro Players tweet to 3,000 of their followers about hot dogs and lollipops. That’s fine sometimes but realistically…do better. It’s time for the League to hire people that explain the ins and outs of being a representative of a Major League and to prolong the Pro Players longevity in the league.
They don’t mess around at any level for the sports that nurture future Pro players — the ones I played growing up. So MLG don’t create rules and stipulations that create a false sense of security (Halo: Reach is a perfect example). Do not deter the aspirations of a young, talented group of individuals. Instead show them guidance, give them information and share the knowledge! This year I’m going to fill your minds with knowledge, and if you aren’t reading it, you are not doing yourself justice.