Women in Esports spoke to Leonora ‘Duck’ Tomlinson-Bennett about her route into the esports industry through volunteering and freelance, leading to her current role as PR and Communications Associate for FACEIT.
For those that perhaps don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Leonora ‘Duck’ Tomlinson-Bennett and I’m a PR and Communications Associate at FACEIT. I previously worked at a gaming-focused agency as a Social Strategist.
I’m also an avid gamer – you can find me on the server in CSGO and League of Legends mostly.
How did you start your career in the esports industry?
My career started as most people in esports did – volunteering. I volunteered throughout my time at university, as I really wanted to get involved with the industry and meet like minded people. Funnily enough, I actually started my journey with FACEIT, providing technical support to their users. I ended up running the volunteer team as well as getting involved with a bunch of other things there. Following graduation from university (I studied Biomedical Science), I took up a full-time role with a gaming agency in London, partly due to my prior experience in esports. Then, as they say, the rest is history.
You mentioned you have done a lot of volunteering previously. What advice would you offer those looking to start volunteering?
Be enthusiastic! Networking and people skills are one of the most valuable assets you have as a volunteer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can – you might find yourself doing it further in your career!
“Esports is universal, we all love games, gender doesn’t define how successful you can be.”
You’ve also been involved in several freelance opportunities as well as full time work. What are the pros and cons of freelance work in your experience?
Although I loved my freelance work, the stability of a full-time job is something that freelance work doesn’t offer. However, it’s an amazing opportunity to travel the world, meet new people and gain a wealth of experience. I look back at my freelance days with fond memories (although I don’t miss invoicing!)
Using an example of a previous event (online/offline), walk us through a typical work day.
Back in the day, when LAN events were a thing, the days normally start pretty early. As an admin, you’re typically first in and last out! A quick breakfast at 7am and a call time of 7:30am are typical, so be prepared for early starts.
Then, it’s time to head to the venue (where hopefully you’ve fixed any issues you had the day before), where you’ll typically test equipment, ensure the veto is done, and the most difficult task of the day: ensuring players are on the server. Typically, the admins are the only presence on the stage with players, and you’re the inbetween from production, so ensuring players are correct and present is vital to the show running smoothly.
Then, it’s rinse and repeat. Match after match, clean the stage, get the next teams veto ready, walkons, chasing players, fix a PC and fix TeamSpeak. d. In my experience, an day in the life of an admin wouldn’t be complete without a good meal at the end of the day and flopping in to bed – ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Due to the current global pandemic many LAN events have unfortunately been cancelled or moved online. Do you prefer online or offline events?
Whilst online work has it’s advantages, nothing beats the atmosphere of offline events. From the people you’re working with, to the crowd, to the afterparty, it’s really the pinnacle of esports.
You have worked with prestigious companies in the events space such as FACEIT and ESL. What is one of your favourite projects you have worked on and why?
My favourite project would have to be working my first Dreamhack event – Dreamhack Open Leipzig. This was one of the last events before the pandemic hit and it was incredibly fun.
Congratulations on winning Admin of the Year for the 2020 UK esports awards! What would be your “top tips” on how to be successful as an admin?
- Ever since my first event, I’ve had ‘join the server’ sharpied on one hand and ‘test teamspeak’ on the other! When players have in ears and noise cancelling headsets on top (blasing white noise), it can be really difficult to communicate effectively with them.
- Talk to people. Ask questions.
- Bring hand sanitizer.
- Bring comfy shoes.
- You’d be surprised how often you need a torch…
A Tournament admin is quite a broad term given the responsibilities and magnitude of some events. What do you feel is one of the biggest misconceptions of this role?
That admins just stand on the stage watching the game! Although it’s a huge perk, and we get unprecedented behind the scenes looks at how top tiers communicate, play and interact, admins are an integral part of the show. We’re the ones responsible for integrity and fair play – both in and out of the server.
Whilst you started off admining, how has this helped you to where you are now within FACEIT?
As you know, the first role I had was as an admin with FACEIT. Being an admin is a well rounded role and opens you up to lots of different opportunities – countless esports professionals started as an admin for good reason. Whoever you admin for, whether offline or online, you’ll learn transferable skills you can take around the industry.
“Be passionate, know your worth and talk to people”
What do you recommend is the best way for a new organisation or esports team to raise their social media presence?
Don’t underestimate the power of social media, and grab an expert in the space. It naturally helps to win matches, sign good players and sponsors, but a good social media presence allows you to amplify these things effectively.
How do you feel grassroots, and professional, esports can gain a better representation in the public eye?
For me, it really starts with amazing women inspiring the next generation. Growing up, I wasn’t really exposed to the same games as my male colleagues, so I was at a disadvantage. Esports is universal, we all love games, gender doesn’t define how successful you can be.
What do you think the industry can do to encourage greater diversity in esports? What would you like to see happen?
Although women are slowly becoming more represented, I’d love to see more women in leadership positions and tech roles. I look up to some incredible role models, both within my workplace and out, and would love to see them talk about the work they do.
What is the main piece of advice you would give anyone looking to get into the esports industry?
Be passionate, know your worth and talk to people – you’ll make lifelong friends and learn from them!
Follow Leonora on Twitter and Twitch.
About Women in Esports
Towards the end of 2019 British Esports launched the campaign to promote diversity and inclusivity within the esports industry. In 2020 British Esports announced that the Women in Esports campaign is now an ongoing initiative, resulting in the formation of a Women in Esports committee.
How to get involved in the initiative.