Find Your Motivation
As with anything in life, it’s important to play college Esports for the right reasons. In the long run, positive motivations are what keep student and players engaged. For college esports players this means a combination of education, and the chance to play, and compete, in top-ranked tournaments.
Pick Your Game
The next step is to find your game. The value of picking a game that’s established as a college Esport is that the infrastructure and resources are already in place to support your college career. Longstanding Esports titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), for example, have large, dedicated player bases and, by extension, sponsored tournaments, college scholarships and strong support from the esports community and from the college system.
Join the Community
As much as college gaming is about individual talent, it’s also about the culture surrounding the game. Before investing too much time learning the nuts and bolts of a specific game, spend some time on forums and other places where players congregate. The experience will provide a better indication of the path ahead, and you’ll be able to judge if the college player journey aligns with your personal goals and motivations.
Make sure you’re playing on the right gear, starting with a good gaming mouse, and mechanical keyboard. There are a lot of options when it comes to peripherals — varying in size, form factor, and sensitivity — but it’s best to choose the one that works for you.
If you want to play college esports, you’ll need to practice.
First, master the game’s mechanics. Concentrate on learning game-specific skills until they become ingrained in your muscle memory. Whether that’s last-hitting in a MOBA, aiming with accuracy in an FPS, or maximizing actions-per-minute in an RTS, these skills never lose their importance.
The best college players, and pro players too, practice mechanics tirelessly to stay sharp and make minute improvements, but players who are just starting out should improve dramatically with practice.
Climb the Ladder
If you want to be a college varsity esports player, it takes a strong desire to win at every phase of competition. This means topping the scoreboard in pick-up groups, climbing the ladder in matchmaking, and being the last team standing in tournaments.
Familiarize yourself with the hierarchy of the levels of competition, as each Esport has its own system in place for bringing new players into the fold. In CS:GO, for example, a player typically progresses from public games to matchmaking and then on to leagues and tournaments. There will be different trajectories for different Esports.
Climbing the ladder allows young players to make a name for themselves. This can help them find a spot on an amateur team, which in turn can be a stepping stone to getting recruited to a good college team.
Find a Team
Once you build a reputation as a serious competitor, find a team. Playing alongside others — especially those who are better than you, or who have different skill sets — is one of the most valuable experiences a player can have.
Learning to play well with others is required for team-based games like CS:GO and Dota 2. So find a role that you like and a group of players that you gel with. But even for solo games like Hearthstone or StarCraft 2, there’s value in connecting with a like-minded sub-community.
Compete and Get Noticed
Getting good at the game is only half the battle. The other half is making connections that will help you ascend the competitive ladder. Once you’ve found your footing in more competitive lobbies, start networking.
Don’t forget your academics. Stay focused on school and your grades. Keep improving your English skills too. While the grind mentality looms large in Esports, prospective college players must learn how to balance their practice regimen and academic studies
In our next post we’ll introduce you the NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports. NACE is the primary governing body for college esports in the United States.
ACA is an Asian-based sports and esports consultancy that guides student athletes and their families through the complexities of the US college recruiting process. We help promote students to all colleges in the U.S. that have esports teams. We assist families and their esports athletes through every step of the process from putting together a profile and academic history all the way through to college application and visa requirements.