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The time is now to start an eSports team.
Do you want to learn how to start an eSports team? This article will go through all the steps to help you assemble your championship squad.
For years, you’ve been sitting in the stands watching those shiny League of Legends championship trophies go to some of the best eSports teams from around the world. But this year, being a casual spectator is no longer good enough. You want more.
You’ve always envisioned yourself under the bright lights, on the jumbotron demolishing your opponents in League of Legends and bringing home the championship trophy for yourself.
However, you don’t just want to be a pro gamer on any professional eSports team. In fact, you have bigger aspirations. You want to form your own eSports squad, filled with some of the most elite gamers you hand-picked yourself.
But you’ve always been hesitant to start your own eSports team because you don’t even know where to begin. It seems like such a monumental task and an unattainable goal. Well, look no further. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this article, which will give you the steps of how to start an eSports team.
So what are the steps to start an eSports team?
- Start with the basics
- Choose and focus on one game, to begin with
- Select your geographic area
- Establish your team branding
- Put your team together
- Find potential team members
- Select players for your team
- Set up your team infrastructure
- Make sure you have the appropriate hardware
- Rent a team game server
- Protect the eyes..No seriously
- Create your eSports website
- Select a team meeting location
- Compete at a higher level
- Promote the team
- Create a fan base
- Secure sponsorships
- Find an agent
- Consider other recruitment options
- Cost of starting a professional esports team or franchise
- Bonus Tips: What To Do If You Get Banned From Streaming
The rest of this article will go over all these steps of how to start an eSports team in detail.
Start with the basics to learn how to start an eSports team.
To start an eSports team, you must first begin with the basics. You have to go through all these initial steps before even considering finding and recruiting players for your new eSports team. But remember, great things started from humble beginnings. Let’s get to work.
Choose and focus on one game, to begin with
If you want to learn how to start an eSports team, one of the most important decisions is picking the best game.
When starting an eSports team, you don’t want to form several teams for multiple games initially. Having numerous teams means you’ll have less time to spend on managing and focusing on each one, which will lessen the quality of the team.
Instead, you should begin by creating a single team for a single game. Starting small will eventually help you grow and expand. You should build up your first team to succeed before even thinking about creating a second team for a second game.
So which game should you choose for your eSports team? The golden question!
You’ll want to select a game that you know and understand both the primary and advanced mechanics and gameplay. This means, at the very least, you should have played the game before.
It’s vital to understand all of the game’s rules, characters, objectives, and other relevant details. You need to be somewhat of an expert on the game. Not necessarily in terms of playing it, but more so knowing how to play it.
But if you’re looking to become part of the team yourself, either as a player or coach, being decent at the game you play is crucial.
You will have to have excellent skills and gameplay when it comes to whatever game you are thinking of choosing. Gamers are always looking to play with other good players, and having an in-depth knowledge of the game and vast experience playing it means you will be able to coach or play with other decent gamers.
Nobody will join an eSports team that you play on or coach if you are terrible at what you preach. If you need some inspiration for choosing a game, check out our post on the biggest eSports games to date.
Select your geographic area
If possible, build up a local team, represent your local area, and gain experience competing in regional competitions.
The next important step in creating your eSports team is choosing your geography, meaning the local area that your team will represent. We recommend selecting a city, town, or county, which are all relatively small geographic areas.
Why do we recommend starting small?
Because when you first start an eSports team, it’s much easier to coordinate live competitions with other teams in a local area versus traveling to national competitions. Going this route will ultimately help keep your costs down and optimize your time practicing with the team.
It’s much easier to meet, communicate, and practice with the team if everyone lives in the same area. And sure, you can start an eSports team with members living across the country.
However, remember the importance of camaraderie and never underestimate the collective power of each member being physically present during practices.
Your team’s geographic area can also help you in creating your team branding. In some cases, you’ll want to include this in your team name. Think of the Overwatch League, for example, in which all the team names include the city they play in, such as the New York Excelsior and the Dallas Fuel.
Build up your local rank to the point that everyone in your area knows what your team can do. If you start local, you will begin to build an organic following, eventually leading to national recognition!
Establish your team branding
Your team brand establishes your identity, so take the time to consider the right logo.
Team branding is an essential part of creating an eSports team. Having a great name for your new team will definitely build awareness of your team and help attract more people.
Your name and logo will become the face of your team quickly and will help people recognize your team a lot easier.
For example, look at the eSports team Cloud9. They have a unique and distinguishable name and have an excellent team logo that combines elements of both a cloud and the number nine. It’s hard to forget a team name and logo like Cloud9.
A great team name and logo will also help you gain more interest for your team, whether from fans who want to support you or gamers who want to play. Your team’s branding could eventually help you find more players interested in playing on your eSports team.
Having a unique name, a well-designed logo, and a professional-looking website for your team will help it become easily publicized and recognized.
You’ll want to avoid copying other logos and team names as you could run into copyright issues and negative public perception. It’s unbecoming, and you’re better than that!
Instead, create something unique and different from others. Strive to choose a name and logo that will ring a bell whenever it is brought up. Imagine it as something you’d want to see and wear on a t-shirt or sweater.
Look for artists and content creators that can help you design your logo and team website.
Having a website is crucial for the team’s success since it will help the fanbase get to know your team better and have one central place to find information and details related to your eSports organization.
Finally, be sure to keep all aspects of your branding as professional and clean as possible as you want to avoid any extremities or PR nightmares that could put your team and brand in danger.
Pull your eSports team together.
Once the basics are out of the way, you’ll want to assemble your team with enough players so you can compete in scrums and tournaments.
Find potential team members.
Before you get in front of the bright lights, you will need an elite squad backing you up.
To compete in eSports, you’ll need the players to do so. That might sound obvious, but it is one of the most challenging steps to beginning your eSports team. When you first start, you don’t want to be a no-name organization trying to reach out to professional players, especially without funding.
It’s not like you can email the top pro gamers like Sneaky, Faker, and Ninja and expect that they will want to join your team. So you’ll have to look to more grassroots efforts to find and recruit players.
Your eSports team doesn’t have to be significantly large. At first, it could be just you and a bunch of your gamer friends playing together.
We highly recommend not to bite off more than you can chew when creating an eSports team. Start small, think baby steps. Going after the big dogs may hurt your reputation as an organization which ultimately can lead to the team’s downfall.
If you don’t already have friends or people in mind who are willing to join your team, this part may be a significantly challenging task. Finding a team full of players that are just as equally dedicated as you at your preferred game is tough.
The best place to start looking is online. You can look to Reddit, Facebook, and other social media platforms to find players in your geographic area who may be interested in joining a team. You can even utilize Facebook advertisements to help find new members for your eSports team.
Utilize websites like Seek Team, which are entirely dedicated to finding you the perfect teammate(s) to suit your needs as a player.
Networking and asking about your connections is another excellent way to find potential teammates. You probably don’t know every gamer in your area, but chances are you can get the word out through your connections.
Ask around and see if the idea rings relevant to anyone you know, or ask if they know of any gamers looking to join an eSports team. Word of mouth is a great way to recruit for your team!
Going to local gaming events or gaming centers (LAN gaming centers) is also a fabulous way to get the word out that you are recruiting. If you can hang up posters advertising your team recruitment, that is an excellent method to get noticed at local gaming hang-out spots.
Select players for your eSports team
If you get a massive response from local gamers who’d like to join your team, it probably will make sense to hold tryouts, as they will allow you to see how each interested gamer plays in real-time. Tryouts will also give you the chance to hand-pick the exact players you would like for your team.
Tryouts are a great way to judge how gamers perform in real life and are highly recommended when starting an eSports team, so you know the exact player you are getting.
If you can’t hold a tryout because you don’t have enough people interested, you should at least make sure to fill up all the spots on your team, which will include alternates and subs. It’s always a good and safe idea to have more players than you need. You never know when someone will get sick or abruptly leave the team, and you don’t want to have to frantically search for a new player in the middle of the season.
For example, if you only need five players to compete in a particular game like League of Legends, we recommend having at least seven people on your team.
Did you think that choosing the best team members was only about skill level? Think again. Remember that certain intangible qualities may be more critical than just gaming skills.
You want to pick team members who share your passion for success and have no problem dedicating themselves to team success. The road to eSports glory can be a long one, with more ups than downs. You need members who can persevere through the tough times.
What good is having a great sniper on the team if they get taken out with the first shot at the first sign of adversity?
Set up your team infrastructure
Now that your team is fully assembled, you’ll need to set up the infrastructure that will enable your team to practice, play, and work together.
Make sure you have the appropriate hardware.
When it comes to eSports, make sure to use gaming hardware that is as tough as your spirit.
To compete in eSports, your team will need the proper hardware. In this case, hardware refers to the physical equipment one needs to play the eSports games at the heart of it all.
- Best Gaming PCs Under $2000
- Best Gaming PCs Under $1500
- Best Gaming PCs Under $1000
- Best Wireless Gaming Headsets Under $200
- Best Gaming Headsets Under $100
At the very least, this will include a gaming computer or console, a monitor screen, a mouse (or controller), and a keyboard. It also includes other helpful accessories like gaming chairs, headsets, and more.
When it comes to hardware for your team, you have three options.
The first option is to rely on the team members’ hardware. Meaning your team will use whatever gaming setup they already own. It is the cheapest and easiest way to get things started. Still, the downside is that everyone will likely use a different manufacturer’s hardware, and this could potentially cause issues in the future with team gameplay consistency.
Most gaming setups are not designed to be mobile or easily moveable unless each gamer has a gaming laptop, though this is generally not recommended for competitive eSports players.
Each player would have to play from their own house, and everyone would connect and practice together online and communicate via headsets. It’s not necessarily ideal, but it is an option to get started.
The second option is to find a local LAN gaming center, a location where one can use a computer connected over a LAN to other computers, primarily to play multiplayer computer games. While a LAN gaming center is certainly not free, it does provide a physical place for your team to meet and practice together in person.
It also means you get access to decent gaming equipment. This type of facility helps ensure your team is equipped with the proper gaming gear before going into battle.
The third option is to fund everything fully and to purchase all the hardware and equipment yourself. While not necessarily a cost-effective option and will set you back a few thousand dollars, it does give you full control over the hardware your team will practice and compete on.
Having a team use subpar or defective equipment isn’t the best option when creating an eSports team. Common issues like lagging and frame drops are the last thing you want to be thinking about in a hectic match.
Having great hardware will only benefit the players’ gameplay. For example, better hardware means lower input lag, which could change the outcome of a gunfight in certain first-person shooter games.
Furthermore, using gaming headsets, keyboards, mice, headsets, and more will allow your team members to perform consistently at a high level. Gaming peripherals such as these can be just as critical to performance as the PC or console.
With certain games, having a better quality monitor will give you a higher refresh rate, meaning the graphics you see on the screen will be more accurate. In turn, this can decrease the amount of ghosting that occurs, which is when your screen is outputting an image that isn’t actually happening on the game’s server-side.
Having a high refresh rate creates a more accurate image more often, reducing ghosting from the servers. Also, gaming headsets are an essential factor because you want to communicate with the rest of your team clearly and quickly. Using high-quality headsets with mics attached will help your team communicate more often and easily.
When you thoroughly purchase all of your gaming hardware, you have way more control over what the team plays on and with. And this could ultimately help your team become even more competitive.
Rent a local team dedicated game server
Don’t you hate it when you are knee-deep in an FPS game, and then the “lag monster” decides to take a big bite out of the fun? Nothing can produce more inconsistent and sloppy gameplay faster than server lag.
Many of the best eSports teams in the world rarely deal with server lag in their practice environments because they have upgraded to a dedicated game server. Game servers are typically hosted by third-party companies, known as game service providers (GSPs), providing gaming performance resources for a monthly fee.
When possible, it’s recommended to purchase your own shared or dedicated game server because it allows your team to practice on hardware designed to reduce lag and optimize in-game performance. It’s often also protected from DDoS threats and is accessible 24/7, and it doesn’t rely on your computer staying turned on.
The best part is that game servers can be very inexpensive for the performance you receive in return. The cost can depend on several factors, including the number of player slots you want to host. For example, in most cases, a 12 player-slot server will be cheaper than a 40-slot player server.
However, other factors can also influence prices, such as the server being a dedicated machine or shared instance. Dedicated servers are typically more expensive, but the entire physical server and all its’ computing resources are allocated to only your team.
While shared servers are much less costly, hosts will have multiple customers using the same hardware, thus competing for resources. Both are excellent options and an upgrade, regardless of which route you choose!
Tips for choosing the best game server hosting:
- Save money by purchasing the number of player slots necessary to support your current team size because you can always scale up at a later date.
- Rather than purchase all the extra bells and whistle options upfront, start with the lowest plan and see how many resources you need for a smooth and reliable experience.
- Host your server in a location that is the most centrally located to all your team members. This is mainly due to performance issues surrounding latency. For example, if your CS:GO team members live in Seattle, San Diego, Miami, and New York, then you should try to host your server in cities like St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, or the most centrally located option available.
Protect the eyes, seriously
Now that you are waist-deep in pursuing eSports glory, you may think that your team’s greatest asset is your collective gaming skills, sweet upgraded hardware, or even branding.
However, you would likely be incorrect! Everything may look good on the surface; however, you may be leaving one of your most critical assets extremely vulnerable. Your eyesight!
It’s effortless to take your eyesight for granted and not consider the potential consequences of staring at LED screens for hours on end each day, several days a week. But, what you may not have known is that LED screens emit something called Blue light, a high-energy short-length wavelength that is naturally occurring in the spectrum of visible light.
Prolonged exposure could put your eye health at risk; however, a good pair of gaming glasses can help significantly reduce the effects of Blue light on your eyes. Gaming glasses are an excellent investment for your squad, both in the short-term and long-run of your eSports team.
Create your own eSports website
Believe it or not, your eSports website is one of your most valuable brand assets. Why? Because if all of your team’s brand presence is only available on social media and streaming platforms, then your gaming future is at serious risk.
Read further to find out why your team’s future success could depend on the decision to launch your eSports website from day one.
Top Quick eSports Website Hosting Recommendations:
- SiteGround – Best all-around traditional website builder
- Vidnami – Best affordable and easy to use option for making simple YouTube videos
- Uscreen – Best for creating your own content and video streaming platform
Select a team meeting location
If possible, pick a dedicated location for training and team meetings.
Setting up in-person meetings for the team is an essential part of managing an eSports team. Seeing each other face-to-face is arguably the best way to build team camaraderie.
That’s why having a team meeting location is so important. This location should ideally a place where the team can practice, compete, and hang out.
The location might start at someone’s house. Starting off this way may be the most cost-effective option in most cases, but someone will need to be willing to host the team semi-frequently. It also could be a bit too scrappy and chaotic, depending on the unique situation.
Consider also looking into holding team meetings and practices at a LAN gaming center. Utilizing a LAN gaming center will cost money, but it eliminates many headaches, such as finding the physical space for it and setting up the hardware on your own.
If you have enough funding, it might be a great idea to find legitimate office space for the team. This will be the most expensive option but will give your team all the privacy they need to train, practice, and compete.
It also gives you more flexibility because you can use the office space whenever you please, rather than relying on someone else’s schedule. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll want to ensure that you have a team meeting location sorted out before you start practicing and training as a team.
Practice makes perfect
Remember this when you aren’t training someone else in the world is.
Once your team infrastructure is set, you’ll want to get your team practicing and competing as soon as possible.
Determine your training regiment
In eSports, there are two main types of training: skill training and team training. Skill training relates to efforts to improve the fundamentals and overall knowledge and proficiency of your team’s game.
- A famous example of skill training, seen in CS:GO, where the mechanics are so developed that entire community-made maps are explicitly dedicated to learning and mastering every gun’s shooting and recoil patterns.
- Following that, there are even maps to learn and develop unique arcs for elaborate smokescreens or molotovs that offer your team wholly new opportunities and advantages.
Though these types of training are usually practiced alone (like in SoloQ), they are intended to hone one’s skills. There are maps involving one-on-one duels or even deathmatch servers consisting of many players made for conditioning players to be alert and cautious in preparation for real games.
Although skill training may seem overwhelming at first, it is much easier to tackle piece by piece than all at once, so it is advisable to make a routine skill training. Keep in mind that patience is the key to improvement in gaming.
The other type of training is focused on team coordination rather than individual skill level alone. No matter how good a particular player is, they are practically nothing without the rest of the team in a competitive game.
This is where the other type of training comes in. Working on improving team communication is vital so that everyone can perform to the best of their abilities. Individual gamers will get crushed by an enemy team with undoubtedly more coordination than their own.
The first step in team building is to establish a camaraderie with the team and create a lasting goal that everyone can all work towards. After all, a machine isn’t exactly helpful if the gears aren’t all working in tandem. Part of this training is usually playing together in the game, working on techniques, and scrimmaging to notice and work on flaws as individual players.
There are also many other aspects of team training, including physical and mental training to keep everyone’s physical performance and decision-making as sharp as a razor.
These two are staples of practice in any team-based field, even outside of gaming. Staying in good physical shape will keep the team both physically and mentally healthy, which will ultimately help enable them to compete at a higher level in eSports.
Create a team schedule
It’s essential to create a team schedule to make sure the entire team is on the same page. This schedule should have all team-related activities documented, including:
- Other gatherings
We suggest creating a team calendar on Google Calendar, a free online application that allows multiple people to view, add, and edit the same calendar.
This practice will help each team member know the dates, times, and locations of all team-related activities and ultimately ensure that everyone shows up where they are supposed to be on time.
Establish good team communication
Communication is everything in team-based competitions. If the team does not communicate well, they will fail fast.
This is why it’s crucial to establish good team communication early on. All members of the eSports team should work on team communication skills during training and practice. That is the best time to sort out all of the effective ways each player individual player prefers to communicate.
For example, you may find during practice that the team works best when a “captain” manages the show by giving instructions and helpful information to the rest of the team.
It’s also a great idea to encourage the team to communicate outside of training and competition. Using social media and other communication applications is a fantastic way to start building teamwork.
The more comfortable the players on the team are with each other, the more this will show when it counts.
Utilize competitive gaming platforms
Practice is great, but the real and most quality experience comes with competition. If you want to expand the team’s knowledge and experience in competitive gaming, using a third-party platform is the best way to go.
Prebuilt matchmaking in a game can only take the team so far. Instead, third-party programs are much better for team play because they will allow you to play against other teams. There’s no better way to test the team’s skills, not only as individuals but also as a collective and cohesive unit.
- ESEA has CS:GO open ladders and lower ladders, and higher-ranking ladders such as Mountain Dew League, where semi-pro players play against each other.
- FACEIT has a system with team-based play similar to ESEA.
If you’re unwilling to pay the price for the paid system, you may want to resort to various amateur leagues on social channels such as Discord, Facebook groups, Reddit, and more. The competition in these leagues may vary but can provide a great learning experience.
Compete at a higher level
As the great hip-hop group Outkast once said, “You can’t be the king of the parking lot forever.” Make sure to push your team’s competitive boundaries often.
Once the team has trained together for a while and meets a certain threshold of success, the next step is to enter higher-level competitions. These competitions include various leagues, tournaments, and ladders that offer prize money to winning teams.
High-level competitions are a great way to establish your eSports team’s legitimacy. Some teams have turned into eSports sensations by winning or doing well in a tournament or league.
These competitions will also help you on your way to earning the title of a legitimate professional team. A team will only earn the distinction of being professional once they have consistently won sanctioned competitions.
Promote the team to eSports audiences
Your team is now at the point where they are training and competing against other teams.
This means it’s time for the final step in starting an eSports team, promoting your team to create a passionate fan base, and lock in potential sponsorship and financial opportunities.
Create a fan base
Fans come with success. Keep developing your team’s skills, and the fans will take notice over time. Don’t expect immediate results, as it’s a long-term relationship you’re building, and you will make small gains with every step forward.
Finding fans isn’t something that you can buy. Instead, it has to happen somewhat naturally. You can’t force people to like and respect your team. Your entire team must earn this respect.
As your eSports team starts to compete and play more and more, you’ll find that you’ll begin to gain fans, especially if your team is successful. We all know that the better your team is and the more they win, the more fans they will have.
The one thing you can control is getting the name of your team out there. And this is why the team’s branding that we spoke about earlier is so important.
The best place to promote your team is on the internet. Your website will be instrumental in doing so because it’s a central place where anyone looking for information on your team can come to learn more. We recommend going big with social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr.
Make sure your team has an official page or account on all of those platforms and post regularly. Participate in subreddits relevant to eSports, gaming, the particular game your team plays, or even your geographic area.
Create YouTube videos with team gameplay and interviews. And consider starting a Twitch channel for your team so that you can live stream your practice and competitions!
Aside from promoting your team online, we suggest going to LAN gaming centers frequently and putting up posters or flyers with more information on your team. Attending various eSports events in your area is also a great way to network and get the name of your eSports team out there.
Hopefully, through all these methods, you can begin to build up your fanbase over time.
Secure sponsorships for your eSports team
Once your team starts to compete at a relatively high level and begins to build up a decent-sized fanbase, sponsorships can be a helpful way to increase revenue and exposure for your team. These sponsorships may be as small as an advertisement on the team’s website or sponsored product placements, clothing, and gear in your streams, social media, or other locations.
Even if you can find local companies or businesses to sponsor your team, it’s worth it! Every bit helps and aids the team in gaining recognition. Learning how to sell your company at local venues, like LAN centers or gaming-centric stores makes for great practice when the opportunity arises to work with an industry-specific sponsor. It’s important to know that it’s a two-way street. Get to understand the business side of sponsorships and make sure your team understands the concepts well.
For more information on this, check out our guide on how to get eSports sponsorships.
Find an eSports agent
Now that your team has become big-time and starting to receive and if lucky, secure sponsorships, you will want to begin considering getting an agent. A good eSports agent can help your team navigate the murky waters of contract negotiations, as well as provide a whole host of other benefits to your squad. For more in-depth information, check our article on Using eSports Agents to Level Up Your Career.
Consider other recruitment options.
Despite all of the previous success your squad has experienced up to this point, the need to one day part ways simply comes with the territory.
Even though you helped build something up from nothing, many new teams and leagues are popping up worldwide that could offer great career opportunities!
However, unless your individual play has caught the eye of eSports team scouts, you will need to find ways to get on their radar. Before you pack your bags, make sure you know more about eSports recruitment.
Cost of starting a professional eSports team or franchise
The overall cost of starting a professional esports team can be substantial, depending on the route you take. For example, as of 2018, the cost to buy into Riot Games’ North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) cost a whopping $10 million.
There are also eSports franchising options like Contender eSports that allow you to build out your own physical gaming center location with all the latest eSports bells and whistles.
This facility could provide your team with a dedicated training location and allow you to turn profits by renting out space to the general public. The cost will range anywhere from $200,000 to $350,000, depending on the upgrades you choose.
However, don’t get too discouraged because this is obviously the higher end of the spectrum in terms of fielding a pro team. The majority of people starting squads today don’t begin their journey on day one at the NA LCS.
Bonus eSports Tip
Bonus #1: What to do if you get banned from streaming
Many eSports teams and players use streaming services on platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, or other social media sites to increase their exposure and expand their marketing efforts. But often, in the heat of an exciting moment, they can have a lapse of judgment, causing them to get banned or suspended from the platform.
There has been an unprecedented rise in streamers getting the boot, effectively losing many or all of their fans overnight.
Although this can feel like a devastating loss on the surface, don’t worry because there is life after a ban. Check out our guide on what to do after a Twitch ban.
Now you know how to start an eSports team
While starting an eSports team is certainly not an easy task, it is totally possible! Creating, maintaining, and growing your team will undoubtedly take time, heart, and effort.
But if you start small and follow the steps outlined above, your team will eventually grow together and has the potential to be super successful.
Keeping a sharp mind and relentless attitude is the key to experiencing success with your eSports team.
How to start an eSports team Infographic
Now it’s time for you to get involved and keep this conversation going in the comments! What did we miss? Tell us about your eSports journey and remember to share on social media!