Babe Ruth, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Joe Namath. Just a few of the no-doubt-about-it athletes that have crossed over into mainstream popularity throughout history.
Many of them did it by dominating their sports, but others did it with engaging personalities, backstories or interests. Something about their personal brand helped elevate them from the field into the kitchens, campuses and offices of everyday life. So far, an esports star hasn’t done that. Some of the top talent in esports and streaming are making bank – Ninja makes $500,000 a month – and racking up engagement on social media, but it’s mostly been from esports fans.
Video games and esports aren’t going anywhere, but the titles often ebb and flow in popularity which can help a star rise or fade away. If esports athletes want to be on the same stage as the top names in sports that crossover into pop culture, there are three big questions at hand:
Do they want it?
Ten years ago, the only people making big money in video games were the developers. Now, thousands of teams and players are raking. Maybe they’re happy with where they’re at and don’t care about the fame or money that comes with bigger stardom.
Do they get it?
If they want it, do they understand what goes into reaching a wider audience? It’s not just being the best at LOL or Rocket League. It’s sharing their interests outside of video games, putting themselves out as the face of a game to an unfamiliar audience. It can be scary at first.
Will they work it?
Part of the popularity of esports is access. When the top players aren’t competing, they’re often streaming. That takes up a ton of time and doesn’t leave a lot for everything else. The lifestyles of the rich and famous often take them away from their sport, their families and eat away at their free time.
If the answers to those questions are yes, yes and yes, there’s a chance you, your player or your endorsee can be the first crossover esports star. It takes more than just being the best with the sticks.