How to Start an eSports Team
Wondering how to get started within an eSport? Are you looking for ways to build the best eSports team and go after the next tournament prizes?
If the answer to the above questions is YES, then stick around to learn all the must-know details.
What you need to know about eSport Teams
Most of us who love eSports have only dreamed about competing with the best teams in the world. If you are here though, it seems like watching others compete is no longer enough for you. You want more.
If you have always envisioned yourself under the bright lights of the ring and can’t wait to bring home the cup of the next League of Legends tournament, then you don’t need to say anything more.
Nonetheless, if you are not just looking to compete with the best, but also crave to own your own squad, then things are even more serious. If up to this point you weren’t sure how to start your own team, then keep reading below.
Start with the basics when building your eSports Team
Before you start recruiting players for your team, make sure that you are a 100% positive on the game you want to build a career on. Find out more about getting into eSports as an individual pro player here.
It is superlative that you focus on just one game. You will want to pick a game that you love playing already, that you understand more than the basics and one that you excel at. Don’t bother building different squads for different games, as this will be a waste of time all together.
To be a squad leader, you don’t just need to be skilled in the game. You will also need to carry a lot of knowledge about the mechanics, the secrets and the long-term strategies that can help you and others along this long way. Keep in mind that nobody will want to join your team unless you carry all of the above essential elements as an eSports leader.
Pick your GEO
The next major step in building the dream eSports team is to select your geographical location – or, in other words, the location you will be representing as a team. Start small. Pick a city, a town or a country, as this will allow you the ability to travel easily and compete in tournaments with the other teams in the same GEO.
The above tip is also cost-effective, as the local tournaments even for the best eSports teams don’t tend to cost too much in terms of travel expenses.
Another argument in favor of the above advise is the ability to practice with your team members. Yes, you can always stream and have live communication, but to build a true team you will need to play on a local network quite often.
Building locally will also strongly help you to get an initial following amongst fans of eSports. You might even get some free advertising through this route!
Turn your team into a Brand
If you are aiming big within the eSports niche, then it is essential that you turn your squad into a brand. Things you will need:
- A great name
- A logo
- A website
All of the above have to be quite unique and distinguishable. There are many teams and many beautiful logos out there. My personal favourite is Cloud9, which is also descriptive of the team and the eSport they are competing in.
Having a cool gaming website, a tasteful logo and a catchy name will definitely get some attention to your team. The website is also very useful, as it will help you create a fanbase and interact with other pros in the eSports market your team is also competing. Check out some awesome website themes here.
Putting your Team Together
The above are all the basics a squad leader in eSports has to settle early on. Now, the next step is to get players to compete with others.
Finding the members for your team is the hardest part in my opinion. It is not easy for a brand new organization with zero funding to attract others. A way to begin is to pick the best amongst your social circle and the best players you have contact with during your eSport matches.
Not all of them will be positive and some might even make fun of your aspirations. Nonetheless, it is important that you highlight the commitment they would be putting themselves into.
A great way to expand your reach is to also ask your current contacts about potential pros, who could join your team and go after the next eSports tournament on your side.
If the above outreach attempt has been really successful and many friends and other local gamers want to become part of your team – then you have to implement some type of competition.
You can set up an online or live tournament and those that perform the best could be the initial members of your team. You will also be able to judge their personality besides their skills in this way. This is not a small element, as an eSports team spends on average 30 hours per week together.
Make sure that you also have a bench. The bench should consist from an equal number of players as the basic team. This is a great way to practice together and grow simultaneously. Having a bench will also make you feel secure before big tournaments and you won’t have to rely too much on specific individuals.
Essential Equipment for your Team
At this point, your team must have been assembled. The next big step is setting up the infrastructure, as you will all need to be able to practice efficiently.
The hardware equipment is essential if you want to compete in eSports. For this purpose, hardware refers to all the gaming physical elements, namely: computer or console, screen/s, mouse and a keyboard. Chairs, headsets and microphones are also useful accessories.
To get the money for this equipment could be a bit challenging though. There are 4 different ways to establish that each player of your team has the essential hardware equipment:
- Every member pays for their own
- You compete in tournaments and you create a money pool that will help those who can’t buy the equipment themselves
- The squad leader buys all the equipment (well, you wanted to build the team in the first place)
- Every player visits a HubSpot, like an Internet Café or a Lan gaming center in order to practice
Getting this step right is pretty important, as many players fail due to Internet or hardware issues. If you want to compete professionally, you must find a way to bring every player on the same level in terms of equipment.
Rent a Game Server
Doesn’t it suck when you are knee-deep in an FPS game and that lag beast ruins all the fun? Nothing can be worst for a professional team than having issues like this.
Most professional teams never face issues like this, because they upgrade their memberships for a dedicated server. These are usually provided by third-party companies and ensure perfect gaming experience.
It has to be noted that this is not expensive, even though it might sound like a very specialized thing to someone without much knowledge. Nonetheless, the type of server also affects the price range. Keep in mind that you won’t need to purchase a whole server, rather enough slots for your team members.
Select a Team Meeting Location
As the leader of your eSports team, it is your job to be able to manage the meetings. These don’t have to be very common, as your team will be practicing daily online, but they are a good way to build camaraderie.
If someone has a big house, a business or a garage, it should be enough to fit all of the team for a casual meeting. If your team is growing massively, then you can even rent a legitimate space.
Whichever of the above options works for you, this is something you will need to settle early on as the team leader.
Practice, Practice and Practice
In eSports, there are two different types of practicing, skill training and team training. The skill training is more of a personal thing. You must keep learning more about your game, new strategies, new ways to become better and keep trying and failing. This is a part that each individual member should build upon daily.
The team training is more about coordination, rather skill level alone. Indifferently to how skilled a player is – there is no way to carry the whole team alone (at least in the long run). Learning how to communicate effectively, the strengths and weaknesses of each other and also pointing out weak points are the ultimate benefits of team playing.
There are some good ways to help you keep on top of your team and make sure that you are constantly trying to improve:
- Build a team schedule – this must be communicated to everyone in the team and agreed upon. Messages a few hours or a day before a training session to inform others will only create tension amongst the members.
- Decide on a communications’ medium – to be able to practice with your team, arrange your meetings or just hang out – you are going to need an app that makes it possible. Discord and teamspeak are amongst the most popular tools for messaging or speaking to each other during your games.
Utilize Competitive Platforms for Gaming
Practice is great for any team, but to gain real experience you will need to compete with others too. If you get too used to the gameplay of your team members, practicing alone won’t be enough to get you to a championship level team.
Platforms like ESEA and Faceit offer multiple leagues across various eSports games, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 (tf2). On these platforms you will be able to choose across different skill ladders.
If you are not willing to pay the monthly fee, then you can join Facebook groups, Discord chats or Reddit groups to find competitors. The experience won’t probably be the same though.
Get on the Next Level
After enough time of training with your team and only if you have reached a top level within the platforms you compete, then you should start aiming higher.
High level competitions would allow you to see if you actually stand a chance against the strongest teams in your GEO and how you perform against other high level teams.
Competing on high-level tournaments within your favorite eSport will also allow you to build a name around your team. In addition, you could also make some money that will act as a reinforcement to keep improving. Some prizes will definitely raise the moral of the team!
To be recognized a solid team worldwide, you will need to win quite a few of these tournaments.
Promoting your team
This is the final step within our guide, but it is a very important one. We will break it down into smaller part in order to highlight the different steps you will need to take to promote your eSports team in a holistic fashion.
- Creating a Fan Base
Getting fans isn’t something that you can buy. It happens naturally and it will grow if your team’s skill is growing. As you compete more and more in different tournaments, you will find that you are beginning to gain fans – especially if you win often.
If you have established your team’s brand successfully, then promoting it further won’t require much other than skill. Your logo and team name will stick on viewers minds.
You should also go big with social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. Establish an official page and advertise your website page there too. Make sure that you check out Skywarrior themes for your eSport website, as they are amongst the best in the industry.
Never miss a thread on Reddit related to your eSport. Twitch is also a good place to increase your fan base by streaming live matches.
Posters and flyers could also be featured in Lan centers. It is always good to be recognized by players, even if they are some local newbies.
- Go After Sponsorships
If you are successful in high level tournaments, it shouldn’t be hard to secure some low value sponsorships. Contact the right people through LinkedIn and be open to messages that you get on your social media and website.
Always remember that you must highlight what they will win if they give you a sponsorship, rather than focusing on what you will get out of it.
A sponsor is not paying you to become better, rather they pay you because they think you are amongst the best and have potential to reach the top!
- Find an Agent
When money is involved, it is always important to have some protection. An agent will be able to explain all the details regarding contracts, tournament prizes and how your team will manage the internal finances.
They might also be able to secure further sponsorships for your team.
Remember that you Could Always Recruit More Players
A last, but very important, point is that you should never stop looking for new opportunities to strengthen your team.
You might be friends with the peers you started the eSports team, but to rise victorious amongst the best teams in the world – you need to be at your best shape.
There is a great chance that one or more players from your team is not up to the same standards as others. You will need to see each competition as an opportunity to acquire new players for your team.
Once in a while you should also join amateur leagues and look for new talent. This will also help you attract even more fans to your brand.
The above steps should be more than enough to help you along this challenging road. Building an eSports team and aiming for the top is not something that many achieve.
You should try to follow our steps as closely as possible and remember that as the leader you will need to be by the side of each member. Sometimes this might consume a lot of your time, but it is your duty if you want to keep the team together and strong.
We suggest that you also conduct some in-depth research to the particular eSport you will go after early on, as there might be some intricacies that we have not covered here.
Moving back to you, what do you think is the most important quality a leader of an eSports team should have?