An Open Letter to Players: Start Thinking About Your Life After Esports
Have you thought about your life after competitive gaming? If you haven’t, it might be time. With that wrist injury flaring up, that young gun getting good enough to replace you, and your title’s future up in the air, who knows when you’ll be out of a job.
I’ve spoken to many of you in different stages of your careers and I can confidently say that retirement and the post-pro life is something very few of you have considered. It might have to do with your youth, or that you’re too busy training, or that you simply want to ignore thinking about the world beyond tomorrow. I get it – this stuff’s not easy and often needs to come with a healthy dose of realism you may not yet possess.
But I think it’s time you start thinking about your future and consider leveraging the skill set and networks you have to create a fulfilling post-pro life for yourself.
I’ve aggregated my thoughts on possible career paths that might interest you. They take into consideration many of the things I’ve heard you be passionate about, but I’d love to hear from you directly how you envision your life.
Here are some thought starters:
Team Coach/Front Office
You are the best in your craft and have a strategic understanding of your game like few people on the planet. Your deep, extended network with other pros, team owners, game publishers, and league operators give you an edge in scouting, recruiting, and business intelligence. Your experience playing in high pressure situations and history of working with teammates can help you find and mold the next superstar into a team that plays your way and focuses on improving how you see fit.
If you can leverage these skills into a general manager or coaching position you may have a career lined up even before you play your final game.
On-Air Personality/Streamer-Content Creator
Does your team require you to stream regularly? Do you take it seriously? If you enjoy being in front of the camera and are confident in your ability to entertain or educate – either casually via stream or more seriously on an analyst desk — then this career path might be worthwhile exploring. Many pros have gone on to work in commentary and even more pros have taken the Twitch path. It’s a lucrative career, but the grind is real. Are you willing to put in the time?
If this seems like something that would interest you, ask your organization about tapping into internal team resources such as graphic design, social media, video editing, and branding support – you may be able to get more out of your org than a monthly check and it could help you develop a brand that survives more than just your playing years.
If on-screen analysis is just not conducive to you as a profession, the rapidly growing esports space is in need of high level talent. And although that might not initially mean becoming the head of a major publisher league or broadcast platform, helping with things like talent coordination, social media, and esports product might be right up your alley.
Your professional insight is invaluable, and while it may take you a while to grow into a traditional corporate role, your perspectives about the challenges of being a pro and about the responsibility attached to being a leader within your community can be instrumental shaping the growth of esports.
Some players have a desire for higher education while others want nothing to do with studies and tests – school isn’t for everyone. However, few applicants have better stories than you. ‘I played soccer for my high school’ just doesn’t have the same ring to ‘I competed in a sold out Madison Square Garden with millions of people watching live around the world’.
Leveraging your competitive experience to attend a top tier institution will enable you to explore many different career paths outside of gaming. And if you’re really unsure about what you want to do with your life, school might give you a few additional years to try new things and figure it all out. I’m not promising that you will, but if you never try you’ll never know.
I hope that this letter – if nothing else – has given you a sense of urgency. I’m not saying that it’s dire to make a decision tomorrow, but you want to be prepared for when the moment comes. Ask for advice from your family, friends, colleagues, and community members. Take in as much as you can and really ask yourself about the impact you want to have on the world. And then take the steps to making it happen – just like the steps you took to be in the position you are today.
Overwatch League Names its Third Team: A look into branding
After much anticipation, NRG eSports finally confirmed the naming of their new Overwatch League team yesterday. The San Francisco Shock is the third officially named team in Blizzard’s new league. Now that there are three officially named OWL teams (the San Francisco Shock, Shanghai Dragons, and Dallas Fuel), we can see a general trend in branding within the league and how it differs from other esports teams. At the moment, OWL’s team branding strongly reflects Blizzard’s decision to operate more like a traditional sports league.
Blizzard has branded its OWL teams much like traditional sports teams: beyond the league logo that sparked rumors of a trademark dispute with Major League Baseball in mid-July, OWL teams are attached to a city, have a mascot, and have avoided covering their Twitter page’s wordmarks with corporate sponsors. Furthermore, in addition to being based in a specific city, each OWL team name connects back to its home location in a certain way. Similar to the San Francisco 49ers, named after the large influx of prospectors during the gold rush in 1849, the Shock, Dragons, and Fuel each represent dominant cultural and historical aspects of their respective cities.
So far, this method differs from the branding of other popular esports teams such as Team SoloMid and Team Liquid, who are not affiliated with any particular location, and whose social banners host numerous sponsors and are generally more cluttered on Twitter than those of the OWL teams. It will be interesting to see how OWL will present its sponsors once it is fully operational.
Will a fresh approach to the esports ecosystem resonate with fans? Whether or not OWL’s distinctive strategy proves sustainable is something to keep an eye on, as it could have a significant impact on the branding of other esports leagues.
OWL teams’ absence of sponsors on Twitter wordmarks:
Team SoloMid and Team Liquid’s Twitter wordmarks: