Welcome to Influenced, where we interview creators of all kinds about the gear they use to do their job — and their advice for folks looking to follow in their footsteps. This week, we caught up with NFL wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster about his love for streaming, his favorite gaming gear and his tips for aspiring content creators.
- Wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he’s set multiple league and franchise records since his debut in 2017 — including longest touchdown catch in team history.
- Avid gamer, streamer and content creator with 257,000 followers on Twitch and more than 1 million subscribers on YouTube.
- Founder and CEO of Team Diverge, a gaming and lifestyle organization that sponsors professional players and sells its own apparel.
- Sponsored by popular gaming peripherals company HyperX.
Smith-Schuster started streaming on Twitch and making YouTube videos during his rookie year in 2017, showing off his skills in games like Fortnite and Call of Duty while giving fans a glimpse at what he’s up to when he’s not breaking NFL records.
“I wanted to find a better way to connect with my fans and express my love for gaming and content, and once I started I just ran with it,” says Smith-Schuster.
Like many creators, Smith-Schuster started simple: broadcasting directly from his PS4 as hundreds of thousands of supporters tuned in. He’s upgraded his setup significantly over the years — thanks in large part to his sponsorship with gaming accessory maker HyperX — now producing streams in which his fans can see and hear him clearly as he snags those Victory Royales.
Here are some of the gaming gadgets that Smith-Schuster swears by both at home and on the road during football season — and his tips for anyone looking to put themselves out there on Twitch or YouTube.
For great sound on and off the field: HyperX Cloud Mix ($195; amazon.com)
Whether you tune into JuJu’s Twitch streams or catch a glimpse of him practicing for gameday, there’s a good chance you’ll see a HyperX Cloud Mix strapped to his head. As the “Mix” in its name implies, this hybrid headset can connect to your phone via Bluetooth and just about any gaming platform via its 3.5mm audio cable. Combine that with a low-profile design, and you’ve got a headset that’s held up throughout every part of Smith-Schuster’s long days on the road.
“I use my HyperX headphones when I’m on the road traveling, working out, and getting ready for a game,” says Smith-Schuster. “It’s great to have the same headset I use for gaming also [be] used for everything else. When I take my portable gaming case with me, it helps me save space that I only need 1 set of headphones.”
While the Cloud Mix can deliver great sound for both music and games, Smith-Schuster sometimes switches to the HyperX Cloud Alpha S ($99, originally $129; amazon.com
For gaming in comfort: HyperX Alloy Elite 2 keyboard ($109, originally $129; amazon.com)
Smith-Schuster’s go-to keyboard is the HyperX Alloy Elite 2, which checks off most of the major boxes we look for in a premium gaming keyboard. It has snappy mechanical keys, a durable steel body meant to stay in place during heated gaming sessions, and, of course, flashy RGB lighting that you can customize in all kinds of cool ways.
“Everything looks so sick and makes me feel super comfortable when I’m gaming and competing,” says Smith-Schuster, who also cites the similarly colorful HyperX Quadcast S microphone as a key part of his gaming setup.
While the Alloy Elite 2 didn’t quite make the cut in our best gaming keyboard rankings, we were impressed by its wealth of customization options and useful dedicated media controls. It’s also well-priced for a mechanical keyboard, often dipping below $100 during sales.
JuJu’s advice for those looking to jump into the world of Twitch and YouTube is simple: Focus on what you genuinely enjoy playing and streaming, and the rest will come naturally.
“Just do what you love and find a way to put it out [into] the world,” says Smith-Schuster. “Gaming and content is stuff I enjoy doing anyways and being able to just broadcast that to the world isn’t tough, time consuming work to me. It’s just who I am.”
Read more from CNN Underscored’s Influenced