Competitive gaming comes to life at a live event, and while putting on a tournament can be hard work, it can also be incredibly rewarding. We ask MCM Comic Con’s esports project manager Michael Hirst for more info…
What does an event manager do?
Event managers are responsible for ensuring a particular tournament or esports event is a success – that might mean it generates certain viewer numbers, ticket sales and a positive reception from fans and the press.
This role is similar to a project manager or product manager, but is obviously purely focused on putting together a great event or series of events.
It’s an incredibly varied role – as event manager you’ll need to liaise with many different teams, from production, to external partners and stakeholders, venue management, marketing and sales to name a few.
Event managers may need to come up with new ideas, solutions and ways of making the show work, even when faced with challenges and directions. They will likely have to manage a team, budgets and timescales, research venues and suppliers, book equipment, hire contractors and be mindful of health and safety.
Michael Hirst, project manager at MCM Comic Con, told the British Esports Association: “My role primarily consists of planning and executing esports or competitive gaming activities at MCM Comic Con events up and down the country and abroad.
“This then divulges into organising activities with companies interested in promoting their products through esports or competitive gaming, and then working out the event logistics and managing of staff/volunteer roles for each event.”
Advice for aspiring esports event managers
Michael offers his tips: “Whatever role you apply for in esports, make sure you have the skills needed to manage the day-to-day activities, and be open to grow and apply new techniques to both your own way of working and working with others.
“In my case, I was part of a great and skilled team of volunteers, we worked hard and our roles were eventually rewarded; your dedication in the esports space will not go unnoticed. If you can give 110%, give 120%. This is a young industry and in the UK there are still many obstacles to overcome.”
What skills you need
Event and project managers need good organisational skills, and the ability to multi-task effectively.
As they will be dealing with a lot of things at once, having good communication and creative skills helps, as does being able to work under pressure and hit regular deadlines.
Some of the event manager skills crossover into sales, marketing and agents, in that they will need to be good negotiators and planners. There are many events courses available to study, and work experience placements that can give you experience and help get your foot in the door.
Michael explains: “There is no specific qualification I can mention that would springboard someone into a project manager role. I certainly am not from a project management background, but I am supported by a wonderful team that makes everything come together.
“While I’d highly advocate a working background in esports (even as a volunteer), I feel that passion and desire to grow the scene and as a person have potentially more weight to succeeding in any esports job role.”
Hours and salary
Working hours are generally dependent on when the event is happening. Managers may work usual office hours, but put in a lot extra time in the run up to events, potentially including evenings and weekends. The role will usually involve a lot of travelling too.
“Weekly working hours can fall into the standard 9 to 6 weekdays, but events can throw all of that out of the window,” Michael says.
“In the run up to large events, be prepared to work constantly and be contacted by your company, support staff and partner companies at all hours. Expect very early morning starts and very late finishes for practically a week.”
Salaries can vary greatly in events. Ballpark figures for professional esports event managers can range from £16,000 to around £30,000 depending on the company.
Looking at event management in general (outside of esports), junior events staff might earn around £17,000 to £21,000, according to the National Careers Service , with more experienced staff earning £25,000 to £40,000. Top events gurus can earn £50,000 to £80,000, but bear in mind this is for events as a whole and is not esports-specific.
An events salary can also include commission, for example if the event has hit certain targets.