Crystal Mills reveals her route into esports journalism

Crystal Mills reveals her route into esports journalism

Adam McGowan
5 min read | 17 Jun 2020

As part of our Women in Esports campaign we’re always looking to inspire future female talent to get involved within the esports industry. We asked esports journalist Crystal Mills to give her insight on how she got involved within the industry through this guest article.


Nearly a decade ago, I had this oh-so-totally unique and not-at-all-done-before idea of combining my love of writing with my obsession with video games. I created a blog called Hey CKM (my initials), and began writing news articles and random ramblings about all things video games and Call of Duty esports. To call the project an obsession would be an understatement. I was writing an average of 10 articles per day, not including any reviews or unorganized op-eds.Getting creative with video games wasn’t an unfamiliar thing to me. I had previously started recording and uploading gameplay videos on YouTube, and all of them were filled with cringy commentary about what I thought of games and what I had eaten that day. It was a weird time.


However, I didn’t really know what I was doing or what direction I wanted to take when it came to writing and recording. My love for Call of Duty esports continued to grow, and I came in contact with eSportsNation, one of the most popular news sites that was covering Call of Duty tournaments at the time. I joined the team and wrote a lot of event recaps and game analysis pieces, often spending 12+ hours recording scores and formatting articles. I got paid with a tub of G Fuel, and it’s still sitting at my parent’s house. I was so excited to get it that I refused to open it. My love of writing about esports exploded, and I knew this was something I really wanted to dig into. I became the managing editor of eSportsNation, and worked with the editorial team until I came into contact with OpTic Gaming.


OpTic Intel was a site about opportunity. The guys at OpTic saw just how important it was to cultivate journalism in the esports industry. I became the editor-in-chief, and helped build OpTic Intel. I also did some copywriting for OpTic Gaming’s main website on the side. As someone who was always a huge fan of OpTic’s Call of Duty team, this was supposed to be a dream come true. The job only lasted for a few months, and in the summer after I left, I realized I was becoming bitter about the writing universe that was so slowly growing in esports. There was no value. I couldn’t pay bills with exposure and tubs of G Fuel.


Writing took a backseat when I entered school and became a certified surgical technologist. Several things happened here: I started building my confidence, I got married, and I moved to a brand new city. I started working in pediatric trauma, and while I loved the challenge of my new career, I desperately missed writing and creating content. I dabbled in freelance, writing esports features for places like theScore, and eventually The Loadout. I returned to DualShockers to help satisfy my general gaming obsession, and I started outlining the ideas behind my podcast Power Level. I wanted to create things again, and I found myself falling into the same hole. I adored it. This was home for me.


I began writing as a journalist for Esports Insider while simultaneously helping Benzinga build its esports vertical. My work started appearing on Yahoo Finance and Robinhood. Instead of event recaps I started diving into the business deals, partnerships, and financial reports. My podcast
Power Level was published on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and I was making connections with other like minded content creators. Balancing my life in surgery with my life as a writer has been disorienting, but it has become one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I’ve grown as a person, and as a brand in the industry. The esports industry is a never ending, always-evolving lesson, and I hope to continue igniting conversation and creativity in the field.


One of the best things about esports is how connected it is. As a writer, I have to always have my “finger on the pulse” of things in the industry. Writing is only 40% of the process. 30% is networking, branding,and pitching ideas, 10% is research, and 19% is working with editors. 1% is trying to remember to answer emails in an acceptable time, something I’ll always struggle with (sorry everyone).


My biggest advice for new writers? Build a portfolio! My awful Hey CKM website served as my portfolio until I started building bylines at other places. The best thing you can do is start creating, and take the lessons as they come. I often compare my job to jumping off of a cliff. I sometimes don’t really know where I’m going to land. Sometimes… that’s ok! You’re going to experience rejection. You’re going to get atrocious freelance offers. You’re going to develop amazing, lasting relationships. Know your worth and let your work speak for itself.


The opportunities will come!

Want to follow Crystal on her social media channels? Check out the links below:


Power Level

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