Some professional gamers, hosts or other talent in esports will utilise to agents to help get them work, maybe handle their branding, or enter into contract negotiations and sponsorship deals.
What is an agent?
Like traditional sports, an agent is someone who looks after a player or other talent’s best interests, whether that’s securing sponsorship deals, handling their image or negotiating better contracts for them.
An agent will represent a player, caster or other esports professional, perhaps handle paperwork and usually look after the legal aspects of their career, allowing the individual to focus on doing their job in esports.
They will aim to do whatever’s in their clients’ best interests – and will usually take a commission on deals and contracts secured.
Some agencies may also act as personal assistants to their clients, managing their schedules, such as booking accommodation and travel for promotional activities. Others will handle a brand or individual’s image or arrange commercial partnerships on their behalf.
They may be responsible for buying or selling players (or representing entire teams/rosters) to other organisations and helping to broker the deal.
Good agents can also help players transition to another role after their career as a pro player is over. They may also handle some elements of life coaching, events and marketing and PR.
Alexander Davis from Evolved Talent Agency, which is based in Los Angeles but has agents around Europe including London-based Alex, explains: “Agents and agencies may also act as consultants and, in a way, PR managers, taking care of their clients. Talent scouting is a big part of the job too – you need to be able to take risks and sign players and talent.”
“Some agencies might look after influencers, others will represent teams, and others will represent players and talent too.
What skills are required?
Agents will need to have strong negotiation, networking and communication skills. Like sales people and recruiters, they will need to have a knack for building relationships with key stakeholders.
Agents must be skilled at selling the players/talent they represent, and showing to teams and partners why the player deserves a good deal or a contract.
They will also often be well versed in contract law and other legal areas of employment. Because of this, some legal firms will have agencies and offer player representation.
Of course, agents will also need a good reputation and understanding of the esports industry, along with a solid contacts book.
A degree of outside-the-box thinking and the ability to come up with fresh solutions is also required. For example, if an agent believes their talent is worth more than an employer is willing to pay, they may negotiate other incentives such as optional extras and individual performance-based bonuses over a certain time.
Alexander Davis from Evolved Talent Agency says it’s not an easy role.
“It’s more difficult than you think, players aren’t always happy (for example if they’re being sold), and this can throw the entire deal up in the air. You never know what they want, they may change their mind and you may have to deal with egos. You need to be able to help advise and guide them.
“The role involves building relationships and team building. I sit down with team managers and understand what they’re trying to do, then I know what’s happening in a certain esports scene in the next year and I can negotiate for players and help them correctly. I regularly reach out to players and DM them saying they did well in a tournament for example. I stay in touch with them, it’s good practice and you never know what’s going to happen in the future.”
He continues: “Most people at Evolve are attorneys. You need a special agency license to be an agent in North America (it depends on the territory), so it’s hard to get into this area.”
Hours and salary
Agents will often work around the clock for their clients, so as such this is not a usual 9 to 5 type job, and is difficult to state a specific wage.
While there are agencies within esports, there are also self-employed agents, who probably won’t receive a regular wage, but will get paid once they have secured a deal or a contract for the talent(s) they represent.
Agents may also receive revenues based on royalties or performance/time-based bonuses mentioned above.
In other sports, it’s not unusual for agents to receive hundreds of thousands of pounds for each player they represent, and in football this can stretch into the millions for the best in the world. While esports is not yet in this same region, it’s certainly growing.
Alexander Davis from Evolved Talent Agency says salaries can be ‘very good’, and it’s a commission-based role so there’s additional incentive there.
“It’s not a 24/7 job, but you do need to be available. Depending on the situation, your workload may increase, for example if a player needs to get a passport sorted on time to travel to an important event or meeting, you need to get it sorted asap
“Agents in Europe can typically take 10-15% commission per sale.”
In terms of finding jobs, Alex says you tend not to find job posts online. “It’s mainly about relationships, networking and team building, you need to have those connections with teams and players.”
Image source: Freeimages.com/Veselina Skumova