(BPT) - You're more likely to be a gamer than you think! Do you match gems, launch birds, farm gold for virtual gear, or create words with your friends? You're a gamer - one of the estimated 2.5 billion in the world! Streaming gaming content is now nearly as popular as binge watching your favorite series.
Enter the rise of competitive gaming (esports) where glory and cash prizes are at stake.
Players are recruited to teams, rise up the ranks, and develop their own global fandoms just like professional athletes. As the popularity of esports grows, people are taking gaming more seriously - and even considering how they can break through into the major leagues.
Every esports star has something in common: they started honing their talent at home - working their way through online matches with friends and climbing to the top of the high score rankings to become superstars.
One team at the top of their game is the Call of Duty League's Chicago Huntsmen, currently competing with teams from across Europe and North America in huge matches broadcast on YouTube that would look right at home on ESPN. The team - Seth "Scump" Abner; Matthew "FormaL" Piper; Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson; Dylan "Envoy" Hannon; and Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson - are currently nearing the end of their bid to become victors of the Call of Duty League 2020.
The Huntsmen have joined up with Zippo - who have launched their first gaming performance product, the Zippo HeatBank 9s Rechargeable Hand Warmer - to give aspiring esports superstars their top tips to reaching the upper echelons.
If you've watched someone streaming their gameplay on Twitch, Facebook or YouTube, you'll have noticed they often have pretty impressive setups; but that's not what makes you a good streamer. It's practice and research.
Your first stop? Not hours at the library - YouTube videos. It's research that's already been done for you - so start there with 'best affordable streaming setup' and you're already on your way. Pull together your essential list and purchase what is within your means. No matter what your setup is, no matter what's missing, always take a picture of your first-ever setup - because more often than not, it will improve and you will want to see where you started!
When you start streaming, set out a schedule. As you start to build an audience, your followers will want to know when to catch you.
To get better, you're going to be playing anyway, so why not stream it? Even if your audience is small, it's practice, practice, practice. If you've just been playing with friends casually, you'll want to play 'ranked' games and build your standing within the game. Nothing builds confidence more than failing repeatedly and wanting to be better. It may sound like a strange approach, but it's a driving force. Once you know what it feels like to fail, it will fuel you to try and improve every day. It fuels us!
Don't be afraid to network - it may seem daunting, but it's worth it. Look at the other top amateurs in your game and watch their broadcasts. Interact with them and get to know them. Be the first in line for their 'community nights' where they play along with their followers. It's a great opportunity to learn and raise your profile.
Online tournaments are also a must. You can work your way onto a team in the amateur tournaments that run alongside the pro tournaments. Most players who are scouted are found in these amateur leagues. As you put in the hours, always remember: this is supposed to be fun and the struggle is part of the game. Enjoy every aspect of it.
Become The Best
When it comes to esports, games are won and lost in a matter of milliseconds. Warm hands can be the difference between victory and defeat (just imagine how hard it would be to play with cold digits!). Enter the Zippo HeatBank 9s Rechargeable Hand Warmer, which combines dependable and long-lasting warmth (up to nine hours of heat) with the convenient utility of a USB-compatible power bank, so gamers can focus on their performance and not their battery life.
Get your hands on the merch drop from Zippo and Chicago Huntsmen - a limited-edition collection of HeatBank 9s - available exclusively at www.zippo.com, as well as through each of the players' Twitch pages, for $59.95.