Ankit Panth is one of India’s best known esports athletes.
He started his professional gaming career in 2008 after a few years of trying his hand at multiple game titles.
His launch of Team Brutality and commitment to being the best in Counter-Strike titles showed his intent to become one of India’s best gamers. And he has learnt a lot through his career as a professional gamer.
Here he draws from personal experience and overall knowledge to list out some tips for anyone looking to make a professional career as a gamer.
Start your esports career young
Ankit advocates for education and a balance between working hard in studies and in games. He suggests that if you are considering a career as a pro gamer, get started on it early as long as you don’t neglect being a student.
“In esports, there are a lot of advantages to starting out young. The scene has grown so much that you get opportunities a lot quicker if you're truly talented,” says Ankit.
Set a career target for yourself
Most professional athletes have personal goals they want to achieve when they get into a sport. Having a personal goal can keep you motivated throughout your esports career.
“When I started gaming, it was with one simple motivation. I wanted to represent India in a sport and I realized that I could do it in gaming. At the time, we had the World Cyber Games. So I was able to fulfil that dream of lifting the Indian flag on an international stage,” says Ankit.
Try to make the right contacts
Ankit decided to form Team Brutality early in his career as a way to take the initiative towards his professional career. But not everyone would be able to set up their own team, so having the right connections in the community becomes vital.
“I noticed in India that there is no established academy or team structure to scout and pick players from. If you know any pro player or organisation, then maybe you’ll have a chance to be big,” says Ankit.
Beat the best if you want to be the best
“When I started Counter-Strike 1.6, I knew I had to defeat India’s number 1 team otherwise I’d have no chance. I had to defeat them within a year or two, or no one would ever care about my games. I defeated them, I turned the cards and then everyone started noticing. I always tell my fans that firstly, you have to prepare to defeat the top teams,” says Ankit.
Keep practicing, even if you are the best
“You cannot get complacent and play just 30 minutes every day to become a pro player. Being an esports athlete is not easy. You have to give it a lot of time,” says Ankit.
Speaking about the Indian community, Ankit says: “Things are looking good and I hope this stays consistent and the gamers who are thinking of levelling up keep practicing and putting in the hard work. Once you stop practicing, you stop growing and others overtake you in no time.”
Learn to bounce back from difficult situations
Everyone has their own challenges to overcome. Being able to face those challenges and succeed is the mark of a professional.
Ankit provides an example: “Even if one of your teammates has to leave, the other four players will definitely get noticed if they're talented. Even if they aren’t, the team can add another good player in the empty slot and keep competing. The same way as your teammate got a chance, you will too if you're capable and can prove that you're here to win.”
You are only as good as your last victory
Esports is all about winning. Every win is a chance to improve your stature as an athlete, and every defeat is a chance to learn.
“No matter how much I speak, I know I still have to prove myself on the server. If you're an athlete, your performance really matters,” says Ankit.
Participate in tournaments that can get you recognition
Streaming has made it possible for gamers of all levels to get noticed. But the best athletes are the ones that win big tournaments.
“Nowadays, social media and YouTube have grown so much that you can stream and show people your game. It’s important to target the big tournaments and only if you perform well there can you think about getting offers,” says Ankit.
Have a strong ecosystem around you
Ankit says the support of your family is extremely important if you want to be a pro gamer.
“I had to balance my time, convince my parents that I’m serious, and at the same time I kept up my performance. Basically, I created a situation where no one had a problem with me,” says Ankit.
He suggests not fighting with your parents if they don’t want you to be a gamer. Instead, try to make them understand what you love about gaming, the career opportunities, and how big the community is in India.
“If I had fought with my parents about studies and all back then, maybe I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. If you try and live normally, you will succeed. You don’t need to rebel and choose a different path,” he says.