Thousands of individual students come through the British Esports Student Champs tournament each academic year, battling it out for their school or college to come out on top at the Grand Finals event.
However, once that journey is over, where can participants take their esports career?
We recently spoke to Vince ‘Mince’ Brown about their time in the Student Champs, and how he has taken these skills to become the new General Manager for Team New Zealand in the upcoming Overwatch World Cup.
Starting the journey:
Everyone has their own unique story as to how they got involved with esports, and Mince is no exception – having subconsciously been involved in competitive gaming before actually participating.
“So I guess I was interested in esports before I knew what esports was.I had these ideas as an 11-year-old kid of going to the leisure centre booking out a room or something, getting my friends to bring in some computers and then just playing our own little tournament. I didn’t even know what esports meant at the time, but as time progressed, I was really introduced to it by Rainbow Six Siege. I was much more of an observer, much more of a fan, but it was definitely like my introduction – I’d say like 2017, that sort of era,” Mince explained.
“Back then I worked as an analyst for some Finnish teams in the Finnish National League, but yeah, I didn’t do much after that with Siege. Then skip forward a few years later, I’m playing Overwatch much more!”
From this point, Mince worked across a wide variety of different roles at different levels, before being given the opportunity to get involved in esports at his college.
They said: “I heard in this Discord server for my college, which was run by students, that someone just asked around if anyone played Overwatch, and I thought, ‘oh my god, yes, I do’. I got to know these people, and eventually, we stumbled our way into the Champs, and we competed in the 2020-2021 Season. During that I took up a sub-spot, mainly because I wasn’t as good as the others but I was Managing them.
“I’d say that’s where I got my passion for Managing, but it also taught me a lot about the game, just being able to watch scrims occasionally sub in If we needed a person. Since then, I’ve picked up pretty much every role that you can in esports – casting, coaching, playing, and analysing.”
Following this initial introduction to the Student Champs, Mince’s passion blossomed, and a whole new world was opened up to them through the tournament.
Developing in the Student Champs:
Starting out as a player, and moving between various different roles for his college team, Mince knew that being a part of the Student Champs was something they wanted – even after leaving college to go to university.
“After I graduated college, and I went to university, I had this big hole in my heart and I thought, ‘I’ve got so many friends still in the Champs, I want to be involved’. So I actually put out an LFT post on Twitter and I said I’m looking for a team as a coach. Obviously, I couldn’t play, but I still wanted to be involved. A lot of people assumed, I guess, that I had quite a few offers to coach in my second year of the Champs, but I only had one and it actually meant a lot to me.
“The person that reached out was the manager for AGSB, and AGSB were the team that had beaten my college team last year, so, it was weirdly poetic that they wanted me to be the coach for them this year and to try and help them secure back-to-back titles,” Mince explained.
As coach for AGSB Esports in the 2021-2022 season, Mince managed to coach the team all the way to the live finals, but unfortunately they just missed out on the victory to Farnborough Sixth Form.
Then, moving into his third year involved in the Student Champs, Mince did some coaching with the Coventry Crosshairs, before eventually choosing to step back from the tournament and focus on his studies.
However, the experiences he gained through the Student Champs aided him with both personal and career development.
He said: “The number one skill that stuck out to me was the skill to play the game. I went from an average, maybe below average, player in Overwatch to at my peak being in like the top 0.5% of players. I learnt a lot being in the community, having scrims with my college team, and this improved me as a player a lot.
“In terms of other skills that I picked up, I like to think that my coaching is a lot better, like just generally coaching, not necessarily coaching of gameplay. I’ve often thought about being a teacher, I mean, I’m still a little at my crossroads now I’m at uni. I’m still deciding what I want to do but you know if I want to go down that teaching route, and I think being in the leadership position of a coach really helped.”
Having had three years of experience within the Student Champs, in a wide variety of roles, Mince has taken those skills on board to help himself, but also inspire others currently competing.
“To make the most of your experience, talk to people beyond just your college team, get to know the community. You’re gonna meet great friends through your college clubs or associations, or societies, but go beyond that as well. Meet these people online that you could meet at LAN, and just just make friends,” Mince continued.
Getting into the Overwatch World Cup:
Even though Mince had taken a step back from the Student Champs scene, he still wanted to be involved in all aspects of esports – with managing still at the forefront of his mind.
However, it did not take long for the position of a lifetime to become available to Mince, and the esports spark was once again ignited in them.
“The announcement that the Overwatch World Cup was coming back came out in, I think, late December , and with that there was a more detailed announcement which came out. In that, there were all these specifics about how there was going to be a selection process for a committee, and I threw myself at it basically.
“I checked my email at about 2am, and I got this email from the Sydney Department of Blizzard basically saying I was selected . I was actually selected to coach at first, but things worked out and I ended up as the General Manager which just blew me back. The only way I could really describe it was like a punch in the gut, but a good one – it really took me back,” Mince explained.
With this news, Mince threw themselves back into the esports scene, and is now working alongside Team New Zealand ahead of the long-awaited return of the Overwatch World Cup.
They said: “The thing I’m most looking forward to would not necessarily be something we will do, because it’s something that we will really have to earn as a team. if the team qualifies past the group stage for the Asia-Pacific B Group, and then we would go to the LAN event. I think that would be really fun – we don’t know where that could be yet, but travelling, that’s awesome, and LAN events are amazing.”
Currently, Mince is working alongside the rest of the Team New Zealand committee to finalise the team roster, and focus on how they are going to perform at the World Cup later this year.
But, the future’s looking bright for Mince, and his career in the world of esports – with more opportunities on the horizon and the Overwatch League in their sights.
When asked where he wanted to be in five years time, Mince said: “I’d like to be back for my fifth year as General Manager for Team New Zealand – I don’t know really! I’m at university right now, and I’m weighing up different options between teaching and throwing myself into the esports industry.
“Ideally, what I really want is to be managing the Overwatch League one day, but it’s a tough system to get into. I have to fight for that really hard if I want that, and that’s going to require a lot of time and sacrifice – so I hope in five years time I can be there, but I’ve got other passions too. We’ll just see, I’ll set a reminder and see where I’m at.”
For more information about what Mince is up to, and to follow their journey in the Overwatch World Cup, check out his Twitter.
Want to know more about the Student Champs? You can follow all of the 2022/23 Spring split action every week on the British Esports Twitch channel, or read more about the tournament on the Student Champs hub.