How To Qualify for eSports Tournaments

A gamer wearing a headset and looking at a large flat screen

As esports has grown, more and more big-money esports tournaments are cropping up. Playing video games is big business, especially if you know how to break into the competitive scene.

While only a handful of esports athletes end up making millions from tournaments, thousands of players earn cash prizes each year, and the industry is still growing rapidly. If you want to break into esports tournaments, here are some tips to get you started.

Pick The Right Game For You

Outside of a handful of world-class gamers, a majority of professional esports athletes focus on one game. You’re free to play whatever you like casually, but if you want to compete, you should choose the game where you excel. You need to hone your skills in one game instead of being OK in several games.

Start by weighing your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a good team player? League of Legends, Dota or Overwatch could be the right fit. Do you not play well with others? Battle Royale games like Fortnite and PUBG should be on your radar. Many of these games are featured in tournaments that have large cash prizes.

You should pick a game that you already have experience in or at least a genre you know well. Professional gamers have spent years to get to where they are, and trying to start a new game from scratch will put you another step behind top-tier athletes.

If you’re even considering entering competitive gaming, you probably have a sense of what game you’d like to play. Go with your gut and start training.

Free and Cheap Services To Get You Ready for an Esports Tournament

Even if you’re already great at a game, you won’t be able to just walk on the world stage and compete with other stars. Luckily there are a number of online services that allow you to match up with other gamers at no cost. This way you can get a sense of how good you are, what you need to improve on, and what truly competitive gaming feels like. Here are some of the best.

  • Challengermode: Designed to help gamers build their skills and experience competition, Challengermode offers free tournaments in the biggest esports games every day. While there are some pay-to-play tournaments, even the free ones offer cash prizes. One of the site’s best features is its leaderboard, which shows you where you rank among other players of the same game in real time. You’ll always match up against players with similar skill levels, and as you get better over time your opponents will too.
  • Players’ Lounge: Although it’s slightly more social than competitive, Players’ Lounge offers free tournaments for cash and prizes in most major games. Like Challengermode, Players’ Lounge gives you a simple way to quantify how good you are at a game relative to other players. Every player has a PLR, or Players’ Lounge Rating, based on their skill that determines what opponents they’ll be paired against.

Sites like these can really help you build your skills and develop winning strategies. If you want to eventually break into big tournaments, sites like Challengermode and Players’ Lounge are a great first step.

Level Up Your Gaming Skills

The old adage “practice makes perfect” is especially true in esports, but there are other ways you can get a competitive edge in gaming. Esports athletes train to game like professional athletes prep for their sport, and taking a page from their book can help you improve.

Some pros train for more than 10 hours every day, plus another hour of physical exercise away from the game. It’s tough to put in that kind of time if you’re not already a full-time gamer, but it shows the kind of dedication needed to really sharpen your talent.

In addition, esports athletes usually undergo some form of mental training to prepare for the stress that comes with competing. Most people don’t consider this aspect of professional gaming, but experts say it’s a major part of competing.

“In general, researchers in the field of performance psychology have found that the process of regulating and controlling unpleasant emotional reactions, such as anger, consumes a lot of mental resources,” writes Itzik Zur, Ph.D., Director at Mental Performance Consulting of New York. “As a result, eGamers may be prone to frequent emotional fluctuations, more so than athletes in other sports.”

The Final Word

Building your physical and mental strength over time can help prepare you to qualify for esports tournaments, and make you better suited to dominate on the biggest stages when you get there. For more specifics on how to fine-tune your gaming abilities, check out our guide on how to make money playing games without pro-level skills.