Esports tournament provider Gfinity has just kicked off its fourth Challenger Series – a competition that’s populated by amateur players with a bid for some of them to be drafted into professional teams, discover a full-time career in esports and participate in Gfinity’s higher-tier Elite Series tournament.
We get asked often at the British Esports Association how players can go from amateur to pro, so here are four success stories from the Challenger Series:
Rannerz: ‘If I hadn’t entered I wouldn’t be playing for Fnatic’
A good example of a success story from the Challenger Series is Irish FIFA player, Rannerz. This time last year Rannerz was at college and just played FIFA as a bit of a hobby, albeit pretty damn well. He decided to give the Challenger Series a go and ended up racking up enough points to be drafted as a pro player for Team FNATIC.
He said: “The Challenger Series was interesting for me, I was only half playing at the start and must’ve been going into the last week and I was 50th. Then a tournament came round (they’re worth 3 or 4 times the number of G-points) and I got to the semi-final which gave me 200-300 points and put me into 34th position.
“Once the people already drafted into teams were discounted, I’d made it to the top 30 which took me through to the draft. If I hadn’t entered that tournament I wouldn’t have got drafted to FNATIC and kick-started my professional career!
“At the moment I’m only putting in about 30 hours of training per week but next year, when I’m doing it full time, I want to be doing about 50.”
Damie: ‘I practiced day after day to get to where I am now’
Damian Augustyniak, also known as ‘Damie’, grew up in Poland before moving to London where his language skills hindered his studies during college. Damie found his niche and came into his own when he discovered Gfinity’s Challenger Series which bolstered him into a full-time esports career within just one year.
Damie commented: “I was in Poland around three years ago, I moved to London with my mum and tried to get into esports, it took me one year to get onto the pro scene. I went to college for a while, but my language skills weren’t good enough to study in English.
“I discovered my love for FIFA. I played for 8 or 9 years without a team or a salary and I signed my first contract after the challenger series with Nordavind.
“I just practiced a lot, practiced day after day to get to where I am now. It’s all about motivation and hard practice. I entered the Gfinity Challenger Series at the start of the year, I had lots of ups and downs in the challenger, but I managed to qualify for the draft. Nordavind had the first pick and they chose me as their PS4 player which really surprised me, I knew three or four other teams wanted me but I didn’t expect to be first pick.
“With Nordavind I loved my time there and it was a great organization, I managed to get good results under their name and in the end I went for another bigger and better organization, it went really quickly and I’m so happy with how it worked out – I am now a full-time gamer.”
Klutch: ‘Being a pro gamer gives me a sense of purpose’
Kevin ‘Klutch’ Brooks always dreamed of becoming a footballer, until at the young age of 12 a terrible accident left his with two broken ankles and his football hopes shattered. Klutch couldn’t physically play the game, so he turned his hand to FIFA. Now, within the space of a year, Kevin has gone from playing FIFA in his bedroom, to battling it out on stage in front of millions of viewers.
Klutch said: “Before I started my career in esports I was at college studying business and accounting but didn’t really enjoy it.
“I never really realised I was better than everyone else, but the one defining moment would probably be when I finished 2nd in the Challenger Series and got picked for the Elite Series.
“I didn’t really make any steps to be a pro, I just played at home a lot and decided to give it a go, played in the Challenger Series and here I am now!
“Being a professional gamer has changed my life because it gives me a sense of purpose. It’s something I love and it’s an amazing career where you meet some incredible people!”
Packz: ‘My advice to aspiring pro gamers is that it’s all achievable’
Marcus Parker, known in the gaming-circle as Packz, went from pursuing a career as an electrician to becoming a Street Fighter V star. Packz has amazing tips and tricks on propelling your esports career and in the importance of self-discipline to survive in this industry.
Packz stated: “Before I was playing as a professional Street Fighter player (and even during the first 6 months I started) I was studying to become an electrician which I didn’t really enjoy very much.
“I’d be at work thinking of how to improve my game. New ideas to use in a match. Strategies. Everything but the work I was supposed to be doing. It got to the point where I wouldn’t put 100% in at work due to the high risk of injuring my hands. And I wasn’t going to let that happen!
“I got into gaming at a competitive level while I was in college, playing Street Fighter IV. A friend of mine from school, who went to the same college, told me about a tournament in Trocadero (the old arcade in Leicester Square, RIP). That’s where I met Problem, Logan, Fword etc.
“Playing and making a living from it wasn’t really a thing for the majority of players. Everyone just played because they enjoyed the competition. When sponsorships and the like were introduced to the Fighting Game Community (FGC), I was already at a level (in the UK) where I could be considered for sponsorship and that was due to my own willingness to work hard and travel and take part in tournaments off my own back.
“My advice for aspiring pro gamers is that it’s all achievable. Nobody made it to the top without grinding like crazy! Whatever game you play, watch your losses back and see how you can improve. Doesn’t have to be losses, can be your wins too! Just find something to improve on when you watch your games back.”