Running your own team or company requires serious hard work and dedication, but it can also be hugely rewarding…
What does an owner do?
An owner will look after all aspects of how an esports company or team operates. This includes hiring staff, deciding which games and tournaments to take part in, the company ethos and direction, branding, marketing and business strategy, paying wages, handling accounts, partnerships and more.
While the owner might not work on those aspects every single day, he or she may have people employed to look after them, and as the owner will ultimately have the final say and make decisions that will shape the company and its future.
What skills do you need?
Esports organisation owners and managers are often entrepreneurial, ambitious and creative.
They will need to stay one step ahead of the game, identify emerging trends and act on them to ensure their organisation grows and succeeds.
Some owners will say that winning is everything, and will prioritise results over other aspects of the business, while others will focus on a unique ethos and style, or value their fans more than anything.
Whatever direction your organisation takes, you will need a good business sense, great communication and people skills, and serious drive. It is not easy to make it in the increasingly competitive esports space, and you will be competing with big organisations with venture capital funding.
Fnatic’s advice for aspiring owners and managers
Fnatic founder Sam Mathews (pictured) told the British Esports Association: “It’s one of those things – it’s all about being professional these days and not promising the world. It’s about delivering on your promises.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is actually being true to our players, not overpromising, delivering against our expectation and then hustling. You’ve got to hustle to get sponsors these days.
“Realistically, to enter the big leagues of top-tier teams, it’s about signing some great talent and almost becoming a management group for them.
“For us, it’s been a long road to get where we are and there’s been a lot of challenges. It’s still a competitive landscape with money coming in that we have to compete against, but I think that in joining esports now, you’re riding a wave. And it’s going to get better and it’s going to get bigger.”
What to be aware of: The future of esports
With more traditional sports clubs getting into esports and buying existing teams, the competitive gaming landscape is changing, and it’s worth knowing that if you want to build a team.
Fnatic’s Sam Mathews offers his opinion on this: “It’s very malleable, it’s going to be very different [in the future]. We can’t necessarily predict exactly how it’s going to be.
“I definitely think the authentic esports brands will still be here, whether they’ve merged with sports teams or whether they’re still independent. That really comes down to the founding team and the management behind them.
“I think a good example of a company which has brought in some great expertise and done an interesting structure is Team Liquid and Peter Guber. They’ve obviously got a lot of sports experience and are well respected sports people.
“And then at the same time, a group of esports entrepreneurs that know what they’re doing.
“The European mentality of teams taking control of their own Esports brands, I’m not sure about. I think there needs to be a level of entrepreneurship by the upper top-down people that manage these teams. And ultimately when you bring in a gun for hire to manage your esports team, it’s not always going to result in success, compared to the other team such as Fnatic, where we have a lot of partners and companies that have bought into what we’re doing as a business.
Working hours and salary
The sky is the limit – on both counts. If you are running an organisation, it could become your life. Look at the likes of Fnatic’s Sam Mathews and Team Dignitas’ Michael O’Dell – these guys live and breathe their UK-based brands, they are working on them all the time and obviously enjoy it.
If you make a successful team, you could sell it on to a bigger buyer, or keep it going and generate a regular revenue stream. As mentioned, the sky is the limit – the top teams will be worth millions of pounds, but it’s incredibly tough to reach the top, let alone stay at the top.