22 May, 2016
I was trying to find a photo of a CT and T from CS:GO hugging each other but, this drives home a seemingly more impactful message so I went with it.
I’ve professionally been a part of esports now for about 3 years. Well, not sure how ‘professional’ I was 3 years ago but hey, I bought my bread and slept under a roof because of esports so I’ll stick with that word. It gave me life may be a bit too much of a stretch.
A worthy disclaimer here: I never played at a professional level nor did I begin my career in esports so the insight I’m sharing here is based on a perspective of someone far less deeply rooted into esports than the majority of those I am humbled to be able to spend time with, learn from and look up to.
Going back to that whole ‘professional’ thing, I’ve just noticed a really worrying trend in the space amongst those that deem themselves ‘working in esports’. A couple years ago, it was pretty bad but oddly enough it’s actually getting worse now:
The issue of hoarding your professional contacts from industry peers.
I understand the majority of people in the space are in a vigorous competitive battle with one another in an effort to eat more pie but this isn’t about that. This practice is just cowardly. If having someone’s email address is something you guard with your life then I have news for you, you’re a loser.
I appreciate that you wouldn’t share your trusted contacts with someone you don’t trust but there’s a difference between sharing a contact with someone and recommending that person to your contact. One is just about levelling the playing field in a bid to hopefully make you more competitive and only win business that you deserve. The other is leveraging your reputation with a contact and extending that reputation to the person being introduced.
It shocks me how many people in esports consider themselves ‘good business-people’ but live and die protecting their professional contacts. It’s an email address you tool. It’s more than likely that you are so incredibly terrible at your job that you need to protect that email address/contact because the moment someone else has a conversation with that contact, you’re quickly exposed.
A lot of esports professionals complain that they don’t have high level contacts to speak to and as a result, just under-perform those that do. That shouldn’t ever be the case. Sponsors, partners, investors should always be presented at request, the contact details to anyone in the space and vice-versa. You’re still free to give your trusting or professional opinion on the referral if asked but you shouldn’t ever deny someone a contact or hide one.
Small tip to teams (applies to non-teams): Help yourself by helping those who want to work with you. Even if you don’t close the deal. While at Fnatic, I prepared a document that listed all of the Tier 1 teams that I felt were our competitors. Alongside each of these teams, I wrote my own assessment of what value each of those brands had to a partner, outlined the current games they competed in and provided a contact name to the CEO/GM of the business. It was standard practice, when I first talked to a great deal of our sponsors (who didn’t know people in the space), to share this document with them and allow them to assess the competitive environment. I distinctly remember sharing contacts with other teams (competitors) during Fnatic and was often met with shock or suspicion. These are by the way, all Tier 1 teams I’m referring to. It was sad then, it’s still sad now.
If there were enough people in the space open to doing this, I’d love to help create a list of client contacts in a central place for all esports teams, brands, investors would have access to if requested. Of course, to make something like this public you’d need the express permission of the clients but I believe that if everyone huddled together and thought about this, they’d realize it’s actually in the interest of both clients and esports folk to have this. If you’re someone who’s already doing this, kudos. If anyone reads this and doesn’t know me but is in need of a contact, I’ll seek permission from the client then always pass one over. Just email me. I uphold myself to my own standards.
For all of you out there ignoring or hoarding contacts, I feel immense pity for you. There was a time you started with nothing and knew you could provide value but wasn’t able to get a contact to someone. Don’t be like the douchebag who didn’t give you a contact back then. Be decent, give others a shot and be better because of it.
Brands get the full picture from all those in the space capable of providing value while esports professionals figure out where their strengths lie and are only matched with clients that truly want to work with them in the long-term.
“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish” – Euripides