The interest in esports has been skyrocketing around the globe. Tournaments have been played at major venues around the world, such as the “Bird’s Nest” in Beijing, China, and Madison Square Garden in New York City, USA. Sponsors, both endemic and non-endemic, have been flooding into the space. Students of all ages have been reaching directly out to their administrators in an attempt to get esports related classes, camps, and programs started at their respective schools. It’s undeniable that esports has passed becoming a fad, and is on it’s way to becoming the next big thing. Despite this, it can be notoriously hard to “break into the scene.” This basically means that you either have a hard time getting your first esports job, or that you have a hard time taking your current career and transitioning it over to esports. So what do you look for, and how do you go about doing it?
The key to success in esports career opportunities is first understanding all of the possibilities that are available. When the public generally hears the term “esports”, they think only of the people getting paid to play videos games. While this is partially true, there is so much more that goes into making esports the amazing opportunity that it is, so it’s worth taking the time to investigate what’s needed in the sector.
“Esports” is typically meant to define the competitive side of video games. There are an extremely large amount of jobs that cover video games, such as you would find in creating the game itself, but for the focus of this article we’ll be talking about careers that link directly to the competitive nature of video games.
One way to get into esports is to work for an esports organization. Depending on their size and investment, these organizations can be involved in anywhere from one to ten esports. The more esports that they are involved in, the more staff they typically need. One thing to look out for when it comes to working for an organization is how professional they are. Technically speaking anyone could start an organization, so it’s important to do your research about career opportunities with one.
Organizations will function as a smaller version of a company. You’ll have your typical company jobs, such as CEO, CFO, COO, and the like. These people are integral to running and making the decisions of the organization. Then you’ll have the staff that directly works with the professional teams. Imagine what sort of staff one would have on a professional football, basketball, or baseball team, and you’ll see a lot of similarities in esports organizations. There’s general managers, team managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, positional coaches that work directly with the team in one capacity. You also then have all of the careers that focus on a player’s wellbeing: Sports psychologists, nutritionists, personal trainers, translators, chefs, and more. Finally, you have all of the other jobs required in order to make your organization successful: Lawyers, accountants, social media managers, content production, ESL teachers (many players can be foreign), marketing, and more.
Each one of these jobs is a cog that comes together with the other cogs to make an esports organization successful. Not every esports organization will have one of everything, as they will hire to fit their own individual needs. Despite this, they are a great source to look at, and they’re located geographically all around the world.
Game developers that have a large esport following will typically have a smaller section of the company dedicated to esports. These jobs can range from being the commissioner of the esports league, to creating content to market the league, to translating for the professional players that take part in the league. Huge companies like Riot Games and Blizzard are constantly looking for passionate, skilled employees that want to be a part of esports.
Outside the Professional Scene and Into Education
It’s important to understand that esports careers no longer center around just the professional scene. With the influx of attention, investment, and willingness of the education sector to get involved, esports careers have now drastically expanded to places where they weren’t previously. Collegiate esports is in the process of exploding, with almost seventy different colleges offering varisty esports at the time of this article being written. This in turn means more people being needed to run these esports programs. Tournaments are being set up around the nation for high schools and colleges alike. Running tournaments, and understanding the work that goes behind them, is another huge subsector of esports opportunities. Educational camps are being jumpstarted to help students realize they can take what they learned from school and apply it to esports! The possibilities keep increasing as the public, and specifically the schools, realize that they can reach their students in a whole new way.
When looking at these possible esports career opportunities, the biggest thing to remember is to focus on what you’re interested in and start producing work around it. If you want to be a coach, create content showing your coaching methods. If you want to be a tournament organizer, create a small tournament in your local area. If you’re a school administrator, be open to creating esports camps that can help your students see they can combine their education with their hobbies. It’s all about taking your current skillset and applying it so that people can see your work. Good luck!
About the Author
Chad Smeltz, also known as “History Teacher”, a native of Harrisburg, PA, has been working full-time in esports for the last three years, initially as a pro League of Legends coach for Team 8 in the North American League Championship Series (NALCS), and then working his way up to General Manager for established esports organizations such as NRG and Phoenix1. Smeltz spearheaded player acquisition, negotiated team sponsorships, directed content, and much more during his time with professional teams. With a background in education, he is seeking to create opportunities for the next generation of aspiring esports professionals.
Smeltz entered the collegiate scene as the ”Overview of Esports” instructor for UCI’s founding class of Esports Business scholars. In conjunction with teaching, Smeltz is now the Esports Program Director of Harrisburg University, where he is bringing academia and professional esports from the West Coast to the East!