Professional Gamer Playing in First-Person Shooter

A day in the life of an esports gamer

August 10, 2021

A day in the life of an esports gamer

Synopsis
4 Minute Read

What does the average day look like for an esports gamer during competition? Keagan Smith takes you behind the scenes.

Partner, Assurance & Accounting
Senior Manager, General Practice

In April, Parabellum Esports, a Rainbow Six team based in Canada, was invited to the prestigious Six Invitational, the world championship for Rainbow Six: Siege in Paris, France. Parabellum competed with players from all over the world, shutting down criticism from U.S. division players that Canada was a “bad region” for esports.

“The population isn't as big as the States — the States have a lot more people, so they generate a lot more players,” Keagan Smith, who plays as P3NGU1N on Parabellum, explains. “Whereas Europe and parts of Asia have already accepted that esports is a really big thing.”

Since 2015, Smith has played Rainbow Six Siege, moving through the ranks as a Tier 3 player competing in local community events, a Tier 2 amateur player where professional leagues are often scouting, and eventually becoming a Tier 1 professional player. Tier 1 players compete on international stages, representing esports teams, and battling for significant amounts of winnings.

“I've been playing video games since I was two years old,” says Smith. At 13, he took his passion for competition from hockey to gaming.

It took several years to get to this point, and now, Smith is a full-time professional esports player. MNP spoke to him about what it’s like to be a pro player, and how to better support aspiring players in Canada.

A day in the life

Esports can be a lucrative career path, especially for players that earn a large following and can turn that following into endorsements and sponsorships. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who has the most followers on Twitch, made $17 million in 2019 even though he won less than $100,000 from competing.

As part of an esports organization, Smith gets paid an annual salary to play professionally, and wins prize money from competitions. While a typical day depends on the time of year — whether the team is off-season or preparing for competitions — during competition time, a typical day is about 12 hours of practice time.

During the Six Invitational, “We wake up around noon, go over strategies and game footage. and then do a scrimmage. The scrimmage is usually three hours, and then we go over that game, and like figuring out what we can improve on,” Smith says. “Then we scrimmage again, and then go over that game and review and then also review our opponents.”

With 12 hours of learning new things, it’s an intense and time-consuming process, and there are several experts to help with that. “We have an analyst, there’s sometimes strategic coaching, and there's also mental coaches and sports psychologists for the team,” Smith says. “The mental coaches can also refer us to nutritionists to improve our diets to make sure that we're at our best.”

Sports psychologists help the team members mentally; as a team with only five people, even one person feeling off can affect the team. “They’re making sure you're staying healthy and at your peak, because there's a lot of pressure to perform,” he says.

Smith says being a professional player is not a lifelong career, for a variety of reasons. Players can burn out from the long days of training and the stress associated with competing against the world’s best. Esports players can also develop serious repetitive strain injuries from the hours of competition. Games trend up and down, and the game an athlete was strong at could fall out of popularity. But there are other opportunities beyond competing — former esports players can become coaches or join organizations if they still want to continue in the industry.

Support from parents is key

While Canada is not yet a leading destination for esports, there is a lot of potential and excitement in the area, and Smith says parents play an important role in fostering that. Parents can support their child’s hobbies, bringing them to tournaments or helping them connect with other players.

Unfortunately, there is still a stereotype that gaming isn’t a lucrative or worthwhile career. “It's a huge help because there's nothing worse than parents not supporting their child because they want to play a video game professionally,” says Smith. “You wouldn't do that for a hockey player or a football player.”

Esports is on track to surpass traditional sports, and many traditional sports organizations are embracing it, especially in Canada. The National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens, Phil Kessel, and Carl Hagelin have an ownership stake in OverActive Media, a major Toronto-based esports organization, while the Toronto Raptors have their own esports team.

There are also efforts to build important infrastructure within Canada to support esports development. Vancouver is working hard to make esports a pillar of the economy with a formal esports strategy — the only in Canada so far — and OverActive Media has planned a Toronto-based 7,000-seat esports venue in 2025 that will only foster more connections in the ecosystem.

“Whether people like it or not, esports is becoming a really big thing,” says Smith.

To learn more about the esports industry, contact Reece Hiland, CPA, CA, Partner, at 647.943.4048 or [email protected], or David Campbell, Senior Manager, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications at 647.480.8437 or [email protected].

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