What does it take to game like a pro?


For those looking to top the league, you’ll know that this level of success goes beyond the number of hours played online. Team EXCEL’s Dani Gradl, aka “Jupi”, told us what really sets the pros apart.

When Dani was young, she loved playing video games with her mum and sister, but didn’t realise she could turn that love of gaming into a profession. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Jupi—as she’s known in-game—is now a pro Valorant player and key member of Team EXCEL, one of Britain’s premier esports teams. With the support of those closest to her, she’s channelled her passion into a career and is forging a path for women in esports.

Power up your gear


Any professional gamer needs the right equipment for the job, and a PC is the foundation of your setup. Building your own PC is a viable option that gives you more control over performance, and as Team EXCEL’s Jupi did, means you can gradually add better processors and cards over time, without having to pay a high price upfront.

Whether you build or buy, keep in mind a few important points about your new computer’s specifications:


  • Your processor, or CPU, should have at least eight cores. 10th generation Intel i5 processors or newer are ideal and more affordable.
  • Aim for an Nvidia RTX 2060 or higher for your graphics card—the GPU—so you can handle most modern games at high settings.
  • A Solid State Drive, or SSD, to process data quickly and efficiently.


Jupi gaming online in her bedroom


The best computer still needs the right accessories, though there’s more of a personal element in choosing peripherals like headphones and keyboards. For example, mechanical keyboards are ideal for pro gaming, thanks to their enhanced precision and tactile feedback, but you’ll want to find the right type of keys that suit your style.

In general, you should plan to purchase:


  • A mechanical keyboard with Cherry switches
  • A headset with quality audio feedback that you can comfortably wear for several hours
  • A mouse with weight options, additional buttons and button mapping, and fast response time
  • A monitor with a refresh rate of at least 140 Hz


If you’re looking for one place to get everything you need, the EE Game Store is packed with the latest products to help you build your ideal setup—across PC and console.

The right connections


The best equipment won’t get you far without a strong, fast internet connection. The last thing you need is a dropped connection in the middle of a heated match, so you’ll want to opt for a wired ethernet connection between your computer and your internet router. Losing your connection might be a nuisance during training matches, but if you drop out of matches too many times, you also run the risk of harming your competitive placement in ranked games like Overwatch 2 and Valorant.

Full fibre broadband packages like those offered on EE extend high-speed fibre optic cables directly to your home and cut down on the lag you often get from traditional fibre optic networks, making it the ideal choice for fast-paced, competitive gaming. Low latency means hardly any lag, so if you notice a longer-than-usual response time between your clicks and actions, make sure to check your ping. Few things are worse than watching your team’s best-laid plans fall apart while the server struggles to clock your moves.

Fortunately, EE’s 5G network package cuts your latency ping by 400% compared to 4G networks. And Game Mode prioritises the connection to your gaming device over other household connections, geofiltering for the most optimal servers and minimising buffering while you play. The result is a razor-sharp setup to see you through even the most demanding games.

You have to take care of each other. You have to look after each other, [and] make sure everybody is well. It's professionalism. It's good communication.

Jupi Team EXCEL

Find your tribe


Being a pro gamer is like being a pro at anything else: you need colleagues you can trust to help elevate the entire team. MVPs and plays of the game might get all the attention during tournaments, but teamwork and training are what make these exceptional moments possible.

“You have to take care of each other,” Team EXCEL’s Jupi says. “You have to look after each other, and make sure everybody is well. It’s professionalism. It’s good communication.”


Jupi winking at the camera


Finding your perfect team might be as simple as banding together with a group of friends who share your interests, goals and dedication. You could also try websites such as Teamfinder, TeamTavern, and Teams.gg to play a few matches and see who might be a good fit for you. There’s a role for everyone, no matter your strengths – the planner, the leader, or even the person who keeps morale high and checks in on everyone. Just make sure you stick to the online gaming code of conduct when you’re teaming up with people you don’t know.

But as Jupi shares through her own story, family support also plays a key role. “George was the one who ultimately told me to quit my job because I was so...depressed.” Encouragement from her partner has not only helped her recent journey into parenthood, but has also given her the chance to go to the BAFTA Game Awards—a ‘super proud moment’ for her mum.

F5 your perspective


If you thought professional, competitive gaming was all about, well, being competitive and gaming all the time, you might want to press the refresh button on this.

Team EXCEL’s Jupi recommends a balanced approach that leaves plenty of room for life off-screen. “It’s important that we rest, reset, and get away from screens,” says Jupi’s partner George.


Jupi's partner George, sitting at home surrounded by children's toys


Time practicing in-game obviously plays a big part, but this holistic mindset pays off in training too. Your team members need to be able to coordinate their approach, train and care for their bodies, and plan theories for how to handle upcoming matches. Add to this the extra barriers faced by many women in gaming, and you can see the sheer hard work and determination it takes for players like Jupi and her female teammates to get to where they are today.

EE hope to share this inspiration and more with aspiring professional gamers through Power Up—a four month programme designed to supercharge women Valorant players, working with esports stars to unlock their talent and launch their gaming dreams.

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