The 'Vainglory' pro has some advice about pursuing your esports ambitions in a realistic way.
Colin Wentworth started out as a basketball player, and that's not surprising if you read the way he talks about his current career in professional esports. He's maniacal about self-improvement and yet cautious when it comes to comparing his game to others. Watch the throne, he seems to say, and yet focus on your own abilities first and foremost. Being the best is a matter of will. A controller may be his basketball, but he talks like an athlete.
The professional Vainglory gamer plays for the esports organization Rogue and is a year and a half into his pro career. In the interview below, he discusses how to make it in the esports world without opening yourself up to unnecessary risk.
Find Your Grind: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an esports pro, Colin.
Colin Wentworth: I'm better known as "eVoL" from the professional Vainglory scene. I was born and raised in Costa Mesa, California and have been playing professionally for almost a year and a half. Growing up, I was an avid basketball player and sports enthusiast with a huge competitive drive. I always found solace within sports and played video games on the side. If I was out of school or basketball practice, I would play video games for the remainder of my time. I loved the competitive nature in many games and always believed in myself to "make it" if I put in the time and constant effort.
FYG: How would you describe your job to someone who knows nothing about what you do?
CW: It's like any other job, but with slight leniency. I still have to work a set amount of hours per day. I still have to show up and get things done on time. The scheduling is different than for a normal job, but you always have to be able to "clock in" and perform when necessary. You don't really have to worry about looking good for the outside world unless you're working with media that day. If you are nocturnal, then you can schedule your time towards the p.m. rather than the a.m. Most "work time" (scrimmages, video review, practicing) does not occur until the afternoon, so you could use that to your advantage.
FYG: What kind of experience or degree would someone need to get a job like yours? How did you obtain that experience/degree?
CW: You essentially need to befriend the right people and show your capabilities within your wanted profession to obtain a job like mine. I did not need a degree to become a professional gamer, but I did my best in terms of marketing myself toward the professional scene to get known. You need to make a name for yourself, and the best way to do that is to establish yourself within the "inner circle" of pro players. If you show that you are willing and able to balance your schedule and cater it toward the job you desire, then it helps. I personally worked my way up from the bottom to the top of the competitive scene, and this is generally how most players get noticed.
I did my best to always take advice from the well-known professionals and tried to outperform against them whenever I would match them. I then got to the point where I was playing with and against professionals and established myself into their "inner circle." From then on, I continued to grind the game and advance my skill level to the point where teams would look at me. The best advice is to not drop everything you have in order to succeed in one desire. Stay in school or work, for it will be a grind. Just like a job application, it might not work out, but it still can.
FYG: What advice would you give to kids in high school, especially kids from rural areas, who want to get into esports?
CW: If you're in high school and would like to get into esports, I suggest that you take the time to figure out how to balance your schedule. You need to continue your schooling and continue your outside activities with friends because it can be mentally draining sometimes (like most things). There are going to be times where you are stressed out of your mind, like that essay you have procrastinated until last minute to write, but it is extremely important that you keep doing what you have been doing before your esports dreams were conceived.
It is also very important to stay on top of your schooling because it is very easy to get behind and very hard to get back up and on top of things. Do not put yourself into an educational "hole" and keep games as a number-two priority until you receive offers from teams. You need to have something to fall back on in case things do not work out.
FYG: What kind of lifestyle does your career allow you to live? What sort of salary and work environment can people typically expect from a position or field like yours?
CW: I get to live a very sporadic lifestyle as a professional player, and it is the best part about being in esports. Who does not want to play video games for a living? It's that childhood dream come true. I get to travel the world for tournaments and compete to be the best (yes, the prize pools are nice too). I get to wake up and play video games with a salary, which is unbelievable. Depending on the popularity of your game, salaries vary between $1,000 to $1,000,000+. I believe that one of the most famous League of Legends players has a salary of $3 million! He is considered as one of the all-time greats, but you can be that as well if you work hard enough.
FYG: What strengths, skills, or character traits do you think are most important for your position?
CW: The most important is to be open-minded. You are a new player and need to welcome any insight or constructive criticism when trying to learn. You need to understand that you are not the best, but you can become the best with the correct mindset. If you are constantly angry at small things and always try to justify the actions you make, then it becomes extremely hard to work with you.
You should not be striving to get better for a stronger paycheck because it opens to complacency, which is one of the worst traits you can have. All of the other players are ready to take your professional spot, and they will if given the opportunity. You also need to stay hungry for competition. As for myself, I want to be the best.
FYG: What does it mean to you to Find Your Grind? Why is it important?
CW: To Find Your Grind is to establish your ultimate goal. Find an endpoint and working your absolute hardest to achieve that goal. Regardless whether you succeed or fail, you become satisfied with your results in knowing that you gave it your complete all. It's important to Find Your Grind because it's easy to become complacent with yourself. You should always be trying to better yourself in the long run, and it will sure as hell be a grind while doing so!
Chance Solem-Pfeifer is an editor, arts journalist, and radio/podcast host based out of Portland, Oregon.