Should you go Pro in TFT? If so, how?

A lot of people want to be pro players, streamers, or youtubers. What if I told you that TFT is probably the easiest game to go full time in? I’ll explain more later, but first let’s discuss how we achieve this. There are two ways, competitive pro and content creator pro. I will cover whether it is worth it to go pro, how sustainable this career path is, how much money you can expect to make, and present some options to go pro. No matter what game you are playing, the path is going to be risky, but in a lot of other games, the path to pro is pretty clear. Obviously, this all comes down to sustainability. What is a major factor of sustainability? Money. If you have a lot of savings or are able to work a different job while maintaining world class skill level in TFT, by all means go for it. However, most people are students or fresh out of college without much savings, and going pro is probably one of the worst things you can do even if you truly are the best TFT player, but maybe this can change in the future. If you compare certain career paths to a pro player career, the options become very clear, but it still doesn’t make the decision clear. Obviously if you are pursuing a highly in demand field, such as engineering, legal, or financial practices, the money is obviously going to be better in those careers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be better. If you are working a minimum wage job, the money question becomes more interesting. Of course the best way is to just have enough money to pursue whatever hobbies you have, but life sometimes doesn’t work like that. Let’s take a look at some prize pools.

TFT is pretty different from all other esports titles with an almost nonexistent tournament scene apart from the Worlds Circuit. Even the Worlds Circuit is highly region dependent, as Europe once had 0 cash prize pool while the China qualifier actually had a bigger prize pool than the World Championship. For this video, we will focus on North America which has the most developed scene for English speaking players. As for the actual championships, TFT has 2 of them per year, one for each major Set with an average payout of $11,250 per player. Keep in mind, there are limited spots per region. People have said the game is young, which is why tournament scenes are not developed, but if we look at the release date of TFT, we see that it came out on July 26, 2019, which means it is almost 2 years old at the time of posting. If we compare the development of tournament scenes of similar games 2 years after their launch, we can see much bigger prize pools, and much more frequent tournaments. It’s not like TFT is a small game, it is one of the most watched and played games in the world. We also have to consider that older games had less tournament infrastructure, yet were able to provide both more tournaments and larger prize pools. Perhaps the lack of events is due to global travel restrictions, which obviously didn’t help the pro scene (apart from increased viewership from people staying at home). I just want to make sure this is clear: it’s not the job of the developer to make a pro scene, BUT they heavily benefit from one because they can drive sales from it. I feel that both the developer and tournament organizers are either ripping players off (unlikely) or they don’t know how to negotiate to get big prize pools from sponsors. As a content creator, I’m pretty familiar with the advertising rates for overlays in TFT, and prize pools are definitely not reflective of that. I feel like the lack of a spectator client has hampered the growth of pro TFT. This was first announced when they gave the roadmap for Set 5, but we haven’t really heard anything since then. This may encourage more tournament organizers to come to TFT as they can stream and monetize on their own channel instead of relying on players streaming their individual streams.

Going back to sustainability, the question is pretty loaded. Everyone has different quality of life expectations and monetary expectations, but for most situations, you cannot rely solely on prize pools to ‘go pro.’ Therefore, you must turn to content creation. Right now, the most popular social media platforms for gaming are Twitch, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. No, i’m not counting Facebook.

  • If you stream on Twitch, you will probably need at least 750 concurrent viewers every time you turn on your stream, and these viewers need to be from countries with high disposable incomes. You will also want to take on a sponsor around once per month
  • If you do YouTube, you will probably need 25,000 subscribers with frequent videos (around 5 per week) with viewers from countries with high disposable incomes. You will want to take on a sponsor once a month
  • For Instagram, you will probably need 50,000 followers. You will want to take every single sponsorship you can get and create an enticing merch shop because there isn’t direct monetization on Instagram.
  • For Twitter and TikTok, you can easily make a following because discoverability is high on these platforms. However, it’s very difficult to actually make money from these platforms, but you can redirect your audience to other platforms.

Notice how I did not mention coaching. TFT coaching is probably the biggest waste of time, even if you charge $200 an hour. I’d rather spend an hour making content for the chance to grow exponentially than do coaching which is a 1 time deal–this is true even if I cannot make $200 an hour from content creation. Let’s go back to how sustainable pro TFT is.

Of course you can combine all the options above to make a lot more money, but not everyone has time for that. If you do ONE of the above, you will definitely be above poverty level, and depending on how much you optimize for income, you might even be around the US median salaries. However, the chance of success is pretty low and the space is highly competitive.

Short note, many high level TFT players have gone to top tier universities and have top tier job prospects–especially in quantitative fields such as software engineering. Here are the salaries at google: https://www.levels.fyi/company/Google/salaries/Software-Engineer/. You probably should work for 5 years then come back and go pro in TFT or whatever game you enjoy at that time.

So let’s go back to the original question–Should you go Pro in TFT? The short answer is no, but there are ways to make this a lot easier and viable. Pretty much without streaming or content creation, you simply will not be able to sustain yourself unless you have a lot of savings, but since most pro players are on the younger side, this is nearly impossible. In order to get a big stream, you need to be incredibly entertaining, which can consist of being good, funny, or attractive. Since you are trying to go pro, you really only need to focus on being good. However, there can only be one Rank 1 player at a time. Without being Rank 1, you will have a very hard time getting a sustainable living from streaming because the Rank 1 player gets raided by every streamer, which makes it pretty manageable to build a stream as long as you can keep Rank 1.

Options to go pro

There are many paths to go full time in TFT. Each caters to different types of people. You will need to be one of the following: be the best at the game, have the skillset required for content creation, or have enough money to sustain a ‘pro lifestyle’. A combination of these 3 makes it even easier.

So starting off, what does ‘being the best at the game’ mean? and how will it help you go pro? Two ways to do this. Win the world championship (very difficult), or get Rank 1 in your region (still difficult, but much more manageable), you will likely be able to start a stream. Qualifying for the World Championship is ‘easier than ever’ because almost none of the top players actually try that hard to qualify for it right now because the prize pool and tournaments leading up to the Qualifiers are very low. Obviously, this is still a very difficult feat, but compared to other games where the full time pros actually try to qualify, it is relatively easier. After this, you can have the lowest stream quality imaginable, but you will get views from both curiosity and hosts because of your rank or worlds qualification. One high ranking ladder player I worked with asked me how to grow their stream. I simply told them to get rank 1 and to maintain it. I think at the time they were a top 25 player. They eventually grew their stream after hitting rank 1–getting thousands of views and now averages around 500 concurrent viewers per stream. There have probably been around 20 people I’ve witnessed that experienced the same thing. These streams often get thousands of concurrent viewers, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000. The only downside is that it is difficult to sustain rank 1 and it can only affect one person at a time. Out of the 20 rank 1 players I’ve kept track of, maybe 3 of them have been able to transition into sustainable viewership levels. The views are fleeting. In order to solve this, you will need some of the other requirements such as the skillset required for content creation.

If we look at other games, there are so many content creators who have never been rank 1 in their respective games. The most important thing to do is to make engaging content. Engaging can be a lot of different things such as:

  • Being the best at the game (streaming rank 1 games)
  • Providing a lot of entertainment value (meme channels)
  • Providing educational content
  • Being attractive
  • Creating a unique community (cater to mobile players who HAVE NO ONE TO GO TO)
  • (This is not a comprehensive list)

In this day and age, there are SO MANY platforms to grow if you are able to create engaging content. Obviously for gaming, Twitch is the most straightforward. After that, YouTube is a great option followed by TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Here’s what I think are the easiest ways to grow on each platform if you play TFT

  • Twitch
    • Hit rank 1 and turn on your stream (difficult, but almost guaranteed success afterwards)
  • YouTube
    • Make meme clips (low barrier to entry, you can literally just hire a video editor or do it yourself if you know how)
  • TikTok
    • Make meme clips (same as above)
  • Instagram
    • Repost the top posts everyday on /r/teamfighttactics (literally anyone can do this)

Of course there are many other approaches to each of these platforms, but these are what I think are the easiest.

Should you go pro in TFT?

If you really enjoy the game, definitely try to go for it, and if it happens, it happens. However, don’t try to grief your life and career for the sake of TFT unless you have a pretty surefire way to get into TFT or if it doesn’t severely hurt your future options in other careers.

Unless playing TFT is your absolute dream and you would live with a huge regret for the rest of your life, don’t try to go pro in TFT if you have a 200k job out of college. The lower the salary, the more it becomes ‘worth it’ to go pro. If you are making minimum wage, I definitely recommend going at least the content creation route if you are very dedicated and have an at least adequate skillset. If you are living in your mom’s basement, there’s definitely nothing stopping you.

This was a waste of a video. I probably spent around 4 hours writing this, 2 hours recording this, and then sent it to my editor. We knew the answer already. TFT doesn’t pay much. Content creation is the same as any other game where only a few ‘make it’ and don’t skip a 200k starting salary out of college for a chance at going pro unless you have no care for money.

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