It's a Different Time in Smash
Everyone wants to go pro. Esports is booming. And a popular game and series like the Super Smash Bros. series is as enticing as any. Seemingly one of the easier titles to learn and get good at it, it is inviting. How does one do it? Is there a set formula? Is it simple as winning?
There is a new formula on hand if you want to get sponsored. No longer can you get carried by your results (unless it's just super dominant). With the fact that Nintendo is essentially offering no help or assisting in the Super Smash Bros. series being a legitimate esport, you have to be multifaceted. You have to bring more to the table than just the competitive side and winning.
It’s all about your brand. You have to make one for yourself. It’s not something that can be done in a day. It’s no simple matter by any means at all. It’s something that takes constant and consistent maintenance. You have to build it across multiple platforms as well.
What do Teams look for?
One of the first things you must realize about being a sponsored player, is that you are a walking advertisement. Let’s put it into natural terms. If I’m Coca-Cola, why should I sponsor x-player? Because they win? Yes, they have good results, but how does that help promote my brand? Do they have a strong social media presence? How can they help advertise my brand?
Does this player represent the ideals and what this company stands on? What’s their backstory? How do they carry themselves, both on social media and in person? You must be able to represent a brand well. Do they do anything else besides compete?
One of the main selling points these days is the ability to create top-level content. We see so many top players who are sponsored now that have great Twitch and YouTube content. One, that provides excellent income outside of your salary with the team you’re signed to, and two it provides more exposure for a team + their brand and a place to showcase your personality and connect with fans, thus adding to your following and fanbase.
Why are the Top Players sponsored?
C9 | Mang0, Tempo | ZeRo, FOX | MVG | M2K, T1 | ANTi , TL | Hbox, ENVY | Wizzrobe, the CLG smash team, almost the entire Panda Global Smash team, Alliance | Armada, TL | Dabuz, and NRG | Nairo all have something in common. Go look them up on YouTube. You’ll see how active they are on there. Constant content coming from them. Massive subscriber counts and viewership. They also have great Twitch accounts too. Couple that with a great social media presence, now they're a must-have player. They bring multiple things to the table that a top team wants in a player. Now what's the flip side of that?
We have seen an unprecedented amount of players across esports realize this reality. Many are now becoming regular streamers and content creators. Their bottom line is secure through YouTube videos, Twitch highlights, and in some cases personal Patreon accounts that allow fans to support them directly.
The Dark Side
Let's take a look at the other side. ENVY | Wizzrobe. For years he was achieving excellent results, culminating in his finish as the number two player in the world in the Summer 2019 MPGR. But for years he was still in limbo, no sponsor, no team. Why? He had nothing to offer outside of it. He had to place top two to get signed because his entire value was in his placements. He was good with no brand to offer. Since signing him ENVY has him making way more content and things to get him more of a connection and presence with fans.
T1 | Jason "ANTi" Bates is the pioneer. After achieving top player status in Brawl, he maintained in Smash 4. He continued to grow his brand, and following, and got into content creation. What he brings to the table attracted one of the biggest teams in esports: T1. He and Larry Lurr became the first two smash signings for the esports dynasty.
Because he doesn't rely on placings ANTi remains a valuable commodity to T1 and any other org interested in a top smash player. He has good personality, content creation and more.
What is the difference between being sponsored and unsponsored?
It's simply this: sponsored players have security if you will. They can practice harder and with more comfort. A sponsored player typically gets flights and hotels paid for, and everything pertaining to travel. So essentially they just have to go perform. And that is besides the salary they get monthly. A good contract allows for you to consistently be supported as you go forth and compete and make content.
On the flip, unsponsored players have to pick and choose what they attend, and come out of pocket for it typically. There's twice as much pressure since it is your livelihood at stake. You're hungry yes, and motivated, but so much more is at stake or you're essentially blowing money down the toilet. Everything is on YOU. Paying for everything, handling bookings, all of that. You have to make a name for yourself and more.
That is why today, if you want to be a successful professional smash player and be a sponsored one at that – it means being successful outside the game just as much as in competition. Follow the blueprint that has been set:
- Achieve top level results
- Have a strong social media presence
- Be a strong content creator and an active one
- Be a social and likeable player