How to become a pro gamer, according to G2's pyth
Playing video games for a living isn’t something a careers advisor would recommend. For that advice, you need a proven esports superstar…
Right now, students across the world are studying for a big test, but not the kind you’d expect. Red Bull Campus Clutch is a global esports tournament for university-aged players competing in Valorant, a tactical team-based first-person shooter. Before it had even launched last year, the first livestreamed playtest broke the record for the most hours of a single game watched in a day (34m, with 1.7m concurrent spectators at one point). It has grown into one of the biggest esports, drawing star players from rival games such as Fortnite and Overwatch.
Campus Clutch competitors might not be in the same league, but the winning teams from each country will play off in May’s world final for a prize of €20,000 and a state-of-the-art gaming hub for their campus. It might also kickstart a lucrative career they hadn’t previously studied for – pro esports athlete.
Jacob ‘pyth’ Mourujärvi could teach them a thing or two. The 27-year-old Swede, part of the elite G2 Esports team, is one of the world’s best Valorant players, but nine years ago he was studying IT at school. “I had no career ideas, but I enjoyed working with computers," he says.
He was playing the newly released Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at the time when some fellow players asked him to join a team. “Now I work with computers every day.”
Here are some valuable lessons pyth learned on his unorthodox career path...
Focus your passion
When he left education at 18, Mourujärvi was playing CS:GO for 15 hours a day. “Sleeping at 8am, waking at 5pm and grinding again,” he recalls. “But when I knew there could be a career in it, I changed my routine and began thinking like a pro. I also stopped shit-talking. I’ve been a nice guy for 14 years now."
Play to your strengths
The Swede is a master of ‘clutch’ play – the ability to turn a game around in the final seconds – which he proved this February when G2 won the first Red Bull Home Grounds competition, and earlier in his career when he singlehandedly defeated rivals Ninjas in Pyjamas in a 2014 four-against-one CS:GO match. Two years later, he was playing for them. “Prove yourself and people will see you,” he says. “But there are no shortcuts – you have to build your way up. And have fun or you’ll get nowhere."
Exit your comfort zone
In 2015, pyth explored uncharted territory, helping to build new Canadian CS:GO team Luminosity Gaming. “I was teamless and wanted to prove myself,” he says. “I learned a lot. Before, I was just shooting and focused on good stats; I didn’t talk a lot. But I became a better team player, more open and honest.” This successful move inspired another one when he left CS:GO. “I was caught in a bad cycle with teams I didn’t believe in. I thought, ‘I’m going to gamble at being one of Valorant’s best players.’ It was a challenge and it was awesome."
“The people who hate on you are the loudest,” says pyth. “Playing CS:GO, I was abused on Twitter and got death threats mid-game. I practised some focusing exercises, but then forgot to do them.” He turned to training software to shut out stress – “I’d practise shooting ranges in [training program] AimLab, with music on to get good vibes” – but the answer lay in a change of scene. “Valorant has one of the most supportive fanbases,” he says, adding that good workmates are also vital. “In G2, we’re friends in and out of the game.”
At 27, Mourujärvi is an esports veteran. But he’s confident that when his competitive time is up, his career won’t be. “I still want to work in esports, maybe as a coach. A lot of players just practise their aim every day, but they need to understand teamwork and strategy. You can’t just have the same players in the team. It’s like how [Premier League football team] Liverpool became better when they bought [defender] Virgil van Dijk. He’s not an official captain, but he brought leadership and confidence that fed into the team. That’s a good quality to have."