How to get a job in esports
Esports teams are hiring career-track employees at all levels of their organizations. They might hire you. But first, you have to help them find you.
An elite few will ever don a player’s uniform for top-flight esports franchises, such as Team Liquid or Team Fnatic. But thousands more will find careers in an international esports industry that is already approaching the $1 billion revenue threshold and is gaining steam, according to Global 2018 Esports Market Report Light published by Newzoo. With investors pouring money into esports, more teams are entering the fray, each needing social media experts, marketers, back-end staffers and beyond.
There are several ways to do that. Here are the stories of professionals that have risen to high-ranking positions within Fnatic and Liquid. They took opposite paths to get there, and both say their teams are hiring people like you.
Caleb Anderson’s newest title at Team Liquid suits the do-everything nature of his job. At 26, he runs four departments working behind the scenes to keep Liquid’s organizational engine churning. It also belies how hard Anderson had to work to rise from the lowest rung of the ladder.
He got in on the ground floor of esports by volunteering for Team Curse. He was a big Call of Duty fan around 2011 when esports was just starting to gain a following in the West. He emailed his resume after seeing an ad for a social media manager position on the Curse Twitter feed.
Anderson got the job, which quickly turned into others. He started by managing the team’s social media accounts as an unpaid volunteer, learning new skills and putting out fires as they popped up. As the complexity of his work grew, Team Curse added him as a permanent member of the team. He got involved with team sponsorships, then managed Curse’s three teams and 12 players in the Call of Duty department.
Anderson’s duties continued to snowball after Curse merged with Team Liquid in 2015. Today, he works remotely in Colorado Springs, Colo., but spends about one week each month visiting the team’s HQ and training facility in Santa Monica, Calif., attending esports events around the world, or meeting with sponsors.
Team Liquid has grown to 60 athletes as well as more than 100 full and part-time workers and volunteers. That’s an army of people supporting Team Liquid’s esports wins, including the Dota 2 team’s victory at The International 7 and 2018 NA LCS Spring Split Championship, among many others.
Esports organizations, including Team Liquid, are continuing to grow and add talented people as the teams continue to break viewership records and attract high-profile investors. Anderson, who sees most of the resumes sent to Team Liquid, says opportunities are out there for those wanting to break into the industry.
“As esports continues to grow and develop, there will be more opportunities available,” he says. “We’re going to need more account managers, graphic designers and people to help with commerce in new regions. Opening up more opportunities across the industry means even more entry points for people who are passionate and ambitious.”
In some cases, growing esports organizations are recruiting specialists from other industries to fill new roles. But Anderson says Team Liquid will continue to give chances to hungry and talented volunteers and part-time employees to turn their passions for gaming into full-fledged careers, just as he did.
“If you’re passionate about esports, and willing to put in the time, there’s every opportunity for you to learn and grow,” he says.
Those volunteers and part-timers are thrust into the mix and given a greater level of responsibility within esports organizations than in most industries, Anderson says. The gig isn’t just making copies or fetching coffee. They jump in and get involved with decision makers.
“I can’t think of another industry where you see a part-timer who was hired a month before working with the CEO, and working on a close level,” he says.
Director of Social Media, Commerce, Client Services, and Creative Services, Team Liquid
Landing a job in esports
CALEB ANDERSON’S ADVICE FOR GAMERS
Don’t wait for the
perfect job post
Regularly check for hiring posts on esports organizations’ websites, social media accounts, and LinkedIn pages. Apply for jobs even if you aren’t perfectly qualified. Anderson and other hiring managers at Liquid review every application and often consider previous applicants when new positions open.
“If you’re a qualified applicant, you’ll find a place in esports, even if it’s not the original job you tried to get,” he says.
Come ready to grind
Esports offices are hectic. Being willing to work long hours can open paths to careers, especially for those willing to take on new responsibilities on the fly.
“Esports can be a very cutthroat, 24-hour-a-day job, so you need to be comfortable working at the very limit of your capacity,” Anderson says. “A lot of things are out of our control and get done at the last minute. That’s the nature of the business. You have to not only be ready for that, but to excel when that happens.”
CALL IN THE SPECIALIST
Esports is no longer a fledgling industry.
As big-dollar investors streaming millions into esports programs, including many from the traditional pro sports world, esports teams are evolving from scrappy startups into major corporations. It takes dozens of workers working magic behind the scenes so that, come tournament time, the professional gamers can do their thing.
Some of those support professionals work directly with esports athletes, such as the managers, coaches or even nutritionists and psychoanalysts. But most serve roles typical in any office, and with esports growing, organizations are recruiting outsiders at the top of their fields. That means hiring, for example, a Jedi-level corporate accountant to be chief financial officer capable of overseeing how money flows in and out. Ditto for the business office. Ditto for human resources. And so on.
That’s why Team Fnatic plucked Róisín O’Shea, who had worked with athletes in professional soccer, rugby, Formula 1, Olympians and elsewhere, to be its Head of Partnerships.
O’Shea, who works in Fnatic’s London headquarters, coordinates all of Fnatic’s sponsorships, a critical role in an engine that employs up to 120 when hosting events and supports around 45 athletes on 10 teams. She’d done the same kind of work, as well as represented pro athletes as an agent.
O’Shea was hardly familiar with esports when Fnatic recruited her. She researched the industry and found that esports was growing incredibly fast in terms of viewership, investment and sponsor engagement. In short: esports was legitimate and with vast and global potential.
She was impressed by the professionalism of the Fnatic leaders, the sharpness of the team’s retail store and the quality of sponsors already under contract.
She wanted in.
“I had no idea what was happening within Fnatic and esports,” she says. “I had to do quite a bit of research, but it was a no-brainer for me to get into it.”
O’Shea’s first event quelled any lingering doubts. She remembers the EU League of Legends Spring Split final in Hamburg. She didn’t understand the chaotic gameplay, but the thousands of raucous fans pulled her into the action and helped her appreciate why esports was ascending.
“I had goosebumps watching, just like I get goosebumps watching a football game,” she says. “Even though I wasn’t a fan of one team or the other, I had the same rush and the same experience as a fan next to thousands of others.”
Much of O’Shea’s job of finding and promoting sponsors initially appeared similar on paper to the jobs she performed in traditional sports. It wasn’t. Esports fans are a more specific audience than merely targeting the 18-35 age demographic. They are more responsive than traditional fans when they see brands they connect to, including Ballistix Gaming.
But they roll their eyes at partnerships with brands posing as gamer-friendly.
“Within traditional sports, people in my position have become accustomed to not be too concerned about the fans,” she says. ”Here, it’s front-of-mind in everything we do with our partners. It’s the top priority.”
Today, O’Shea understands the in-game action. She’s a Fnatic fan.
“Before coming here, I had this preconception that esports wasn’t for me,” she says. “It turns out, I can’t help but get caught up in the drama. When your team wins, you feel it, and when your team loses, you feel that, too. When I became closer to the team, I couldn’t help but switch to Twitch at 2 a.m. to see what’s happening.”
Róisín O’Shea, Head
of Partnerships, Team Fnatic
Landing a job in esports
RÓISÍN O’SHEA’S ADVICE TO NON-GAMERS
Give it a shot
Too many people in the professional world have never considered moving into esports, O’Shea said. They should. Their skills are in demand, and the industry’s upward trajectory should make for long, rewarding careers for those with the foresight to get in early.
“Don’t rule it out,” O’Shea says. “That’s one of the first things people do, and it’s a mistake. Explore some of the bigger organizations. Also, don’t rule out the brands working with or within esports organizations. I’d encourage people either into gaming or who are bored in their 9 to 5 in whatever industry to consider esports as an option.”
That goes for women, too
O’Shea worked for a decade in the male-dominated world of professional sports. Esports offices skew heavily male, but O’Shea says teams, including Fnatic, are hiring more women.
“[Hiring women] is coming up more and more in the gaming community,” she says. “I’m one of many women at Fnatic’s London headquarters. If you are female, whether or not you are a gamer, if you like the idea of working in esports, 100 percent go for it.”
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