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Top 5 mistakes to avoid during esports recruitment


College Recruitment is a time consuming and difficult process. There are many intricate factors into not only getting into a college, but getting into the program you'd like to compete athletically for. If you make even a few mistakes, the consequences could be very impactful.


In esports, I've seen a host of common mistakes made my many high school students. In this article, I've identified the top 5 to avoid making during your recruitment journey


1. applying too late

This is likely a given, but it's important to not underestimate what late applications mean in terms of your ability to get accepted into a program.


Every school has a different Fall application deadline - you need to know when applications open and end. In addition, you might consider options such as Early Decision/Early Action so that your application will be reviewed quicker.


Beyond not getting accepted into the university, late applications can severely hinder your ability to get into the esports program you are considering. Most coaches might already have their incoming graduation class scouted, meaning even if you get accepted, you would have to commit as a walk-on and lose out on esports scholarships.


2. Jack-of-all-trades, master of none

In order to get a starting varsity spot in many institutions, you need to have a unique role or skillset. In team-based games such as Overwatch or Valorant, you might find that there are many other recruits that play the same characters as you. This leads a lot of recruits to overcorrect and try to expand what they could get recruited for.

To clarify, this doesn't mean don't be flexible. The problem comes when you start to be too flexible. I've seen many kids try and get recruited for 3 different games. Even though some games carry very similar sets of skills, you cannot laterally transfer your game knowledge to a completely different game. In addition, if you only play flex or fill and don't have a specific role that sets you apart, you might end up becoming a substitute.


The best advice is to find what you are naturally talented at, and be willing to grow within your role instead of being concerned about being too narrow.


3. No Coach outreach / follow up

This is a case I see all too often. You send a cold email to a college coach introducing yourself and explaining that you are looking for a scholarship. Many recruits are not considering what a Coach has to do on a daily basis - coaching, recruiting, improving the mental/physical health of their players, negotiating with partners, working with their college administration/faculty, planning events, etc.


So, you send a basic 3 sentence message to a coach saying you're interested...why should they care?


You need to think about coach communication like you are applying for a job. People make this mistake in the job market all the time as well - you apply to 100 different companies thinking this will increase your likelihood of success. Wrong. Sending 100 short-detailed and uninteresting emails will get you little to no traction. What if, instead of 100 low effort emails, you created a strong and decisive message to 10 coaches and regularly followed up with them? You not only saved time, but you vastly increase the chances that you will get noticed.


The worst thing you can do, however, is have a great conversation with a coach and then never follow up. Coaches get very busy, and they will forget about you if you do not nurture the relationship. If you get a good phone call, have a consistent cadence of outreach, even if they don't reply to all of your messages. I would still highly encourage you to avoid low effort outreach, but any outreach is greater than zero.



4. Not enough research

Yet another case I see with a lot of students. Folks are often too concerned with things such as name-value (i.e. D1 institutions) or the amount of scholarships (even if tuition is outrageously high).


Research helps you do a few things:

a) test your assumptions - often, we rely on things like word of mouth or reputation. If you test your assumptions, you paint a much more cohesive picture.


b) understand pros/cons - there is no perfect school, period. In fact, all schools will advertise how great they are without ever explaining where they are lacking.


Our College Database tool is a great place for you to start your research. We offer you the ability to search through hundreds of club/varsity programs that have your title and have scholarships. Don't waste time researching schools that either don't compete in your title or don't have what you are looking for!


5. focused solely on esports

Repeat after me - never commit to a college purely on esports. Even if you really value competition and pursuing esports, you ultimately pay to go to college to receive an education.


Even though there are opportunities to take esports to a professional level outside of college, you need to be committing to a college for the right reasons. Think about things such as academic life, social life, region setting (urban/rural), cost of living, etc.


Best practices for esports recruitment

The best practice for enhancing your esports recruitment is finding a mentor. At Smith Talent Acquisition, we offer a yearly membership designed to connect you with college coaches, improve your in-game skills, and get you recruited to a program that fits your needs. We guarantee that you will get an esports scholarship, or you pay nothing. Get in touch to learn more!

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