For many it sounds like a dream to earn money with gaming, but there is more to it than sitting at your computer.

Renzo Oemrawsingh's father (25) showed him FIFA 98 as a little boy, but for a long time he played the football game with friends.

Until he was approached in 2017 to play professionally in the eDivision, the e-sport competition of the Eredivisie. The result: two hours of training per day, live streaming and tournaments for Fortuna Sittard. "Eventually you will end up with a six-hour working day."

"Eventually you will end up with a six-hour working day." Renzo Oemrawsingh

The master's degree in sociology that he is also following at the VU University Amsterdam can be combined by a top-level sports scholarship with his work as an e-athlete.

"I am the first e-athlete to receive something like that at VU University Amsterdam," he says with some pride. "That way I can catch up with exams later if I have a recording day at the same time."

E-sports are gaining ground

It is not the only sign that e-sports are taken more seriously. According to a survey of a thousand young people from market research agency Nielsen Sports, four in ten Dutch people between the ages of 14 and 35 are involved in game competitions.

They watch it, visit events or play games themselves. 15 percent of this group started three years ago.

Sidney Lehmann, co-founder of ECV esports, sees the group of gamers with the dream of becoming an e-athlete growing daily. The manager of e-athletes who play FIFA and Fortnite receives e-mails from players who consider themselves suitable to be among the top. "Besides YouTuber and influencer, it has become a popular dream."

Game days where scouting is popular

One of the ways to find a good e-athlete is to check the rankings. Whoever plays online tournaments can see how good he is compared to the rest of the Netherlands.

But organizing game days that people can sign up for and scouting for are also popular. The first recruitment day for the popular game Fortnite in 2017 gave ECV esports eight thousand responses.

"Those people invite you, you assess their potential to reach the top and you build teams in which they will play together." The Dutchman Dave Jong won in a team with an Englishman last month 1 million euros in prize money by finishing second at the World Championship Fortnite .

These sums are more common internationally: 28-year-old Tyler Blevins manages to reach some fourteen million followers by playing games such as League of Legends and Fortnite . His income via YouTube alone would already earn him around $ 500,000 a week.

You don't always get a full-time salary

Lehmann emphasizes that only a small part of the gamers in the Netherlands can live on the income. Oemrawsingh "may not complain as a student". "But, certainly excluding prize money, it is not yet comparable to a full-time salary."

Gamer Mathia Koolhout will succeed. "Although I can't drive around in a Lamborghini yet," she laughs. "If I really wanted to earn a lot of money, I would have been better off looking for a job after my Master in Plant Biotechnology. But I am well off this."

She started playing online five years ago. "None of my friends played games and it seemed fun to meet like-minded people."

"I can't imagine that I will ever stop gaming." Mathia Koolhout, gamer

In the meantime, a few thousand people watch Koolhout every day as they stream live for about eight hours via the Twitch platform. "I play League of Legends , but also Fortnite , Teamfight Tactics or even The Sims . It's all about coming together."

From IT recruiters to builders of headphones

Those viewers are interesting for sponsors, Lehmann explains. "Companies see that they can approach many young people in this way."

Sponsors range from game manufacturers to companies that offer equipment such as webcams, headphones, keyboards or computers. "But also IT recruiters, who can already play a prominent role here with young people who spend a lot of time behind their computers."

"I can't drive a Lamborghini yet." Mathia Koolhout, gamer

Koolhout also found a sponsor who is interested in the target group who likes to watch games. "I also fitnes a lot myself and found out that many gamers do that too." She approached a company that sells sports supplements. The company is now sponsoring her while she is playing. "That target group of men between the ages of 18 and 34 is difficult to reach. They are not on Facebook or Instagram."

Do the gamers keep doing this? "I play until FIFA 20 anyway, then I would like to become a coach of other e-athletes," says Oemrawsingh. Koolhout sees himself combining the work with presentation jobs. "But I can't imagine that I will ever stop playing."