When your kid tells you that they want nothing more than to become a professional gamer when they grow up, try your best not to roll your eyes. Instead, keep an open mind and do some research. Having their sights set on being a professional esports player is certainly a lofty goal, but it’s not impossible. It takes hard work and dedication just like any professional athlete.
Just ask self-made former pro-gamer, YouTube content creator, founder, and CEO of 100 Thieves, Matt “NaDeShot” Haag. What Nadeshot was able to accomplish during and after his esports career is nothing short of incredible.
Nadeshot earned his recognition in the game Call of Duty playing mostly for OpTic Gaming from 2008 to 2015. What set him apart from other esport players, was his entrepreneurial mindset combining his competitive career with content creation. Nadeshot helped bridge the gap between the esports and gaming audiences by offering a glimpse into his personal life, something that had not been done before. Considered one of the biggest personalities in esports at the time, Nadeshot told YouTube’s theScore Esports in a 2018 interview, “I wanted people to recognize me, I wanted people to know, ‘hey that’s Nadeshot.’”
He admits that his mother was not always on board with his passion for gaming and even made him get a job at McDonald's just to get him away from the screen. “I think when any parent sees their child doing something that’s really out of the ordinary you know that’s gonna raise a lot of red flags. So I can imagine what they thought about it (pro gaming) and I think that’s the main reason why my mom made me get a job because she was worried that I was just going to waste my life away behind my computer screen,” Nade says. His mom was expressing common concerns shared by many parents of esports hopeful gamers. Eventually, she would become his biggest supporter until her untimely death in 2012. “I realized that no matter where I went, my family, where I come from, and the love of my mom, are a huge part of what I do.”
Nadeshot had a rollercoaster career with OpTic Gaming. However, his biggest success on the team came in 2011 when OpTic Gaming defeated Team Kaliber 3-2, winning the gold medal in Call of Duty at the Major League Gaming (MLG) XGames finals. When he announced his retirement in 2015, Nadeshot was determined to stay relevant in the industry. In 2017, Nadeshot would go on to form 100 Thieves, an esports organization and lifestyle brand.
Almost overnight, 100 Thieves went from an idea with a name and a logo to a multimillion-dollar esports organization with a solid foot in the door to the world's biggest game, League of Legends. In a very short time, 100 Thieves would become synonymous with some of the biggest names in gaming, music, and fashion. Nadeshot’s career serves as an inspiration to all aspiring esports players and is a great example of what an esports career can look like and where it can go once the competition is over.
The reality, however, is that out of the thousands of young gamers who dream of making it big and earning a living doing what they love, only a few actually “make it”. For those who don’t go pro, there are multiple ways they can continue to work within the industry they love so much. An entire esports ecosystem was created from the enormous growth it's seen over the years, providing many different types of jobs within the industry.
Nico Besombes, an esports and social researcher, created a detailed map of careers within the esports ecosystem. He says in his article, Esports Related Professions, “It is therefore with the objective of filling this gap that I am gradually trying to identify the numerous professions related to esports in order to show the different possibilities,” he said. “To help train organizations/schools/colleges to identify the professions they need to focus on, and thus define the appropriate educational content and relevant speakers/teachers/instructors.”
Pro players can go on to become on-stage hosts or even shoutcasters for the same circuits they used to compete in themselves. Some become coaches for teams while others get signed to organizations as content creators.
These opportunities are not just for former pro players. There are multiple ways to enter the esports industry even if you don’t have a background in gaming. There are jobs in operations, sales, management, event planning, broadcast, and merchandising, just to name a few. If you visit gaming and esports jobs platform, Hitmarker, you will quickly see the high demand the industry has for qualified professionals from multiple disciplines, proving that anyone with the right set of skills can make a living in esports.