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Managing a Professional Esports Team - Team Vitality - Mike "Gregan" Ellis

This past week at ESI London we had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Mike Ellis, team manager for Team Vitality and international esports commentator, about his start in esports and his experience in the industry so far.

 

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Declan Murphy:  Hello Mike, thanks for sitting down with us. Could you tell us about how you got your start in esports?

 

Mike Ellis: Weirdly my start came from Minecraft. I used to go to Insomnia with Noxcrew. That’s sort of what got me through the door - kept going to events, kept meeting people. Then Insomnia 56 two of my friends were comedically commentating Rocket League. They didn’t know anything about Rocket League at the time - They liked the game but did it mainly because they were funny guys. They invited me to cast the final with them as they knew me as “the Rocket League guy”.

From that people were like “you should get into commentary, you’re good at this”. I emailed JamesBot back before anyone (in Rocket League) was a professional commentator and it mainly voluntary. He introduced me to a lot of the American community, CloudFuel as well. I spent hours and hours and hours casting community tournaments - basically trying to make myself the voice of Europe. From there I kept meeting people at events and kept taking more opportunities.

Eventually people come to you with things and you can make into your job. The first job outside of small events was Clash Royale CCGS. I got invited out to LA to interview for that having never played the game before. The interview came through a Rocket League caster I know called Shogun. That was the first real time I had something that wasn’t just Rocket League. From that I also got Gfinity Elite Series.

I started doing other roles - a little bit of coaching here and there - my stream started growing. Was mainly just little things all over the place. Those connections you make will all start providing more opportunities by themselves. Like I met Team Vitality while doing Clash Royale and said to them basically if you need Rocket League to contact me. They ended up contacting me to scout a team for Rocket League in Gfinity and then from scouting a team they also took me on as their manager.

 

DM: What is the best bit of advice you could give to this next generation coming into esports?

 

G: This bit of advice is pretty universal but I’d say more so in esports - voluntary work. People always joke about being paid in exposure but just speaking to Joe Brady, one of the best photographers in esports, he started out just messaging people asking to record and photograph their events for free. From that he built up a portfolio. Same thing happened for me through commentary; same with management. Then you can say “these are my jobs, these are the things I had to do” and go forward with that into your next job.

What’s crucial is when a job wants you to have experience, they don’t mean it has to be paid experience, they just want you to know how it works and know the jobs you’ll be expected to do. If at first you’re willing to do it for free then they know you have the dedication to the job well.

That thought process for me came from (my degree) medicine and the ethos with medicine to differentiate yourself from everybody else through voluntary work to show your dedicated to the cause of helping people. So I used that in esports and had the mentality that I’ll use my time as my payment into my next job.

 

Thanks to Team Vitality for the header photo

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British University Esports Championship

Kicking off in October, the British University Esports Championship has one purpose: to identify the country’s top performing esports universities. For the first time ever, the efforts of every team across numerous games will be aggregated to crown the UK’s first Esports University of the Year.

Taking inspiration from BUCS, whose points table is a key consideration for prospective students evaluating their universities, the table will showcase the UK’s top esports universities and provide an ongoing benchmark for developing societies.

 

Format

Each tournament that contributes points to the overall Championship has been carefully designed to cater to players of every skill level. While specific formats will vary from game to game, the majority of players will have an opportunity to compete in divisional playoffs and vie for glory.

While teams competing in each game’s Championship playoff will earn the most points for their university, almost every team will contribute points to their university’s overall score.

 

Esports University of the Year

At the end of each year, the university with the most points earned across  all contributing tournaments will be crowned “Esports University of the Year”.

In addition to the prestigious title, which we believe will prove a valuable sponsorship asset for teams and encourage greater administrative support, the winning university will receive a package of 40 society hoodies from the awesome team at Raven with exclusive 2018/19 BUEC champion branding.

 

Games

Game tournament details and prizing will be announced next week. Tournaments earning Championship points will be announced for the following games:

  • League of Legends
  • Counter-Strike Global Offensive
  • Overwatch
  • Dota 2
  • Hearthstone
  • Rocket League

 

Signups

Signups open 24th of September with the Winter tournaments starting on 14th of October

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Platform Patch Notes

We've made changes to a number of areas of the platform to improve user experience and add functionality. Additions of features are included under functional changes, quality of life refers to tweaks in appearance or responsiveness, and visual changes refers to, would you believe it, changes in the look of the platform. 

Functional Changes

  • You can now sign up with a non ac.uk account. This will allow freshers to set up and edit their profile in advance of getting your university email. You will need to update your email to your university one later to compete in tournaments
  • Student leaders now have a list of usernames who are signed up at their university displayed on their university page

Quality of life

  • Increased Forgotten Password token life times from 15 minutes to 1 hour to make it more convenient
  • Adjusted the log in button location to not be obscured by Chrome's hover over link display
  • Cleaned up copy on edit pages to make it clearer

Visual Changes

  • Stream widget now orders based on current stream viewership
  • Changed display for player and team cards to improve the look of university pages
  • Notable alumni cards adjusted to allow more space for text
  • Various minor tweaks and fixes to pages

 

Any comments or suggestions? Leave them below or in our Discord feedback channel.

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“This Job Is Not Available Anymore:” What Happens After Student Esports

UK Student Esports, a phrase that evokes images both of teams representing their university in national tournaments, as well as shy undergraduates attending gaming societies run by grizzled veterans of the local scene. Certainly, this constitutes the core focus of competitive university gaming, yet for a talented student graduating from their tertiary education, the field of esports currently offers little in terms of secure employment, something which may have an adverse effect on the development of gifted future workers in the industry.


Now you might be thinking, student esports is about creating a space in universities for students to compete, whilst socialising and developing employable skills by leading gaming societies. This all may be true, but sooner or later the time comes where every student gamer must address the elephant in the room: what happens next? The answer, and the number one priority for every graduate, is finding a job, plain and simple.


But unfortunately, and it will come as no surprise to many people reading this, there is little to no incentive for a well-qualified graduate to opt for the esports industry rather than other sectors. Of course, there is the argument, oft-mentioned in online Esports job descriptions, that you get to work in an industry you have a passion for. Frankly however, this is a feeble caveat to entice proficient graduates, virtually indentured with debt, to take huge personal financial risk and pursue employment in a career field with as little security as Esports. Ultimately, people need money to live, and unreliable sources of money will put off a lot of people.


For example, what reason is there for a computer science graduate, upon finishing with a first, to cut his teeth competing against thirty and fourty year old industry veterans for technical positions within Esports, when he would have far less trouble taking an early programming job at a web development company.


As a result of this, the Esports industry is at risk of bringing in the most passionate, but not necessarily the best, of what today’s bright young minds have to offer; those who are willing to take the risk, and are able financially to take the risk, rather than those who have the greatest set of skills, but have not the means nor the incentive to apply them within the competitive gaming sector.


Of course, this is not to say that those currently working in this industry are not the most capable. However, as we look to the future of Esports, we should be seeking to entice gifted, able graduates with career prospects which eliminate the fear of job insecurity. One way this can be achieved is by encouraging large Esports companies to offer paid graduate schemes, thus linking the end of university to tangible employment opportunities for the most talented. So far only Riot, the founder of League of Legends, appears to have done this, yet has demonstrated this is a financially sustainable endeavour which other businesses could follow.


Esports is still young, but it is not too soon to begin thinking about long-term sustainability for the growing sector. Without the expectation of secure employment, graduates are put off by venturing into the budding industry, despite the enormous potential they have to offer through innovative ideas and lengthy, prosperous careers. Consequently, Esports is at risk of attracting only the most passionate, instead of the most skilled and the most qualified, workers into its field, which could negatively impact on the overall potential on offer years down the line. As such, the industry should look bridge the gap between university and employment by creating opportunities for talented young graduates to flourish and excel.

Chris Williams

 

Photo Credit: Taken using Gyazo from Fnatic's online available internships page.

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The Case For Joining a University Esport Team

Mid-September is a good time for the Overwatch squad at York’s gaming society. Generally, we get a lot of new people joining our Discord, and we’re working hard in preparation for our Freshers fair next week with the rest of the committee. That said, joining an esport team at university can seem daunting and complicated. With that in mind, It’s important to highlight the benefits that a term with a university esport team entails: from the benefits of having a group of mates who play the same thing, to the potential for career-building after university.


Let’s start with the obvious: if you haven’t yet competed in a serious team, university esport will be the most enjoyable version of the game you have played yet. Your teammates will generally be communicative, the skill level will generally be pretty close, and you’re not going to get any students claiming to have slept with your mother over voice chat. Weekly competitions, like those that NSE is planning, require about one night a week’s commitment, but end up being reliably fun in a way that online PUGs simply aren’t. The best moments come when you’ve learnt each other’s playstyles completely, and manage to stay calm and cheerful whilst demolishing the enemy team.


I really appreciated that the time commitment depended entirely on what my team wanted to do. York’s top team (who were, up until recently, university champions,) spent days playing practise matches against other teams. By contrast, my team met once every fortnight for drunk board games. Some of the best moments for our Overwatch team actually happened away from our keyboards. Making friends and going out can be daunting at university, but esport teams are a great way to meet people who share your interests.


If the social side sounds worthwhile, there’s the added benefit of making connections in the industry, or getting noticed by semi-professional teams. Three players from York’s team that I mentioned earlier are currently competing in the Open Division: 6-0 in game score at the time of writing. There’s also opportunities to learn casting. Andy ‘Vedius’ Day, of League of Legends broadcast fame, started out as a university esport caster. Industry success isn’t guaranteed, but experience in a strong university organisation is a great start.


As esport grows, players have also gained more recognition in the wider university community: NSE’s launch is part of this. There’s nothing quite like the prestige of representing your university in a varsity tournament though, and that’s exactly what York’s esport teams did three years ago at the War of the Roses: Europe’s largest varsity tournament, held annually between York and Lancaster. Roses gave York’s gamers the opportunity to compete in a proper sport tournament, and help the university’s point totals. Personal validation aside, the experience was extremely satisfying.


It’s always hard to know what to expect as a Fresher, and esport teams, like much of the university itself, are a daunting prospect. Trying new things and getting involved is the best advice I ever got as a Fresher: my time as part of the second best Overwatch team in York made my year really special. I’d recommend it to anyone who plays any competitive games. We need new recruits if we’re going to beat Lancaster this year.

 

-Patrick 'Electro' Walker

 

Photo credit: Jon Chia for the NUEL

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ESI London - What Is There For Students?

From September 18th through to the 20th, the Olympia in London will play host to ESI London. The conference is an event dedicated to business in the esports industry and hopes to provide an insight into just how the big decisions in esports are made.

 

Now that's all well and good, but as a student, is the conference worth it?

Well starting off with the most obvious one, value. As a student you get a huge 90% discount on tickets. Thanks to NSE's partnership with Esports Insider, students up and down the UK can enjoy a hefty discount. If you're interested in said discount you can find tickets at https://sbcevents.com/esi-london-2018/ with code ESIEDU for 90% off.

We're also running a competition for a chance to win one of three day tickets.

 

Okay sure, ticket are cheaper as a student, but what am I getting for my money?

Over the Wednesday and Thursday there is a number of panels highly relatable to student esports. A few that spring to the forefront are:

Wednesday 19th

  • 10:15–11:00  The ins and outs of running an esports team  ft. speakers from Fnatic, CoL, Team Vitality & Virtus Pro.
  • 11:20–12:00  Unsung heroes – League and tournament operations  ft. speakers from ELC, ESL, Starladder, FACEIT.
  • 14:00–14:40  UK Esports – It’s coming home?  ft. speakers from exceL, Intel, British Esports Association, DCMS & Gfinity.
  • 14:45–15:30  Building a brand in esports – ft. speakers from CoL, Blinkfire & Fnatic.

Thursday 20th

  • 11:20–12:00  Blockchain and esports – more than a buzzword? – ft. speakers from Unikrn & GamerToken.
  • 16:00–16:40  Do loot crates constitute gambling? – ft. speakers from NSE, UKGC, Reed Smith & ESIC.

Now I'm not sure about you guys, but there's a few panels there that are pretty meaty. If you're new to being on a committee there's certainly a lot of lessons to learn from these talks. If you're looking to build out your society's brand there's a big opportunity to pick up some key knowledge from industry experts. Running a LAN in your university with some competitions? Learn from experienced league operations associates the key points you need to remember.

The full panel for ESI London 2018

Not only are there some great panels, there's some great guests too. Quite a few of the big players in esports will be in attendance including Fnatic Co-owner Patrik Sättermon and the CEO & CFO of CompLexity Gaming Jason Lake & Daniel Herz respectively. There's also the MD of ESL UK, James Dean and ESL's VP of Pro Gaming, Michal Blicharz. Simply put, a lot of these guys are the best of the best.

 

If you're interested in reading more about ESI London you can find the event page at https://sbcevents.com/esi-london-2018/.

Header Image: © R.Lakhani | ESL | eslgaming.com

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The Perception of Esports

Those of you reading this are obviously already interested or involved with the world of esports and as such the world of competitive esports seems natural to you, why can’t people play computer games professionally like more traditional sports?


However, for those outside of the gaming bubble the idea of competitive computer games seems ridiculous. I found this out when talking to one of my colleagues at work whilst in a discussion on Korea, I mentioned they’re quite good at esports to which he replied “esports, that’s not a real thing”. This type of incredulity at even the idea that a computer game can be a widely watched competitive event is still a common occurrence amongst the mainstream media.


However, the tide is changing, with the creation of professional leagues such as The Overwatch League and the franchising model it's based on we have seen spots selling in the tens of millions of dollars. Famous athletes such as Shaquille O'Neal and Alex Rodriguez have also been taking an interest in and more importantly investing in esports teams as well as celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez. This sort of widespread media coverage from traditional athletes and celebrities can only help the perception of esports in the public image.


There has also been a more widespread involvement of traditional sports teams investing in esports organisations such as the owners of Arsenal F.C, the New York Mets and the new england patriots investing in Overwatch League teams as well as well well known football teams Paris St Germain and Schalke 04 investing in very successful league of legends squads.


However a newer game to reach mass popularity and grab the attention of the mainstream media world is Fortnite. Love it or hate it the cartoonish looking battle royale has brought a huge amount of attention to the world of gaming and esports. Stories ranging from children spending hundreds of their parents money on in game cosmetics, Epic games announcing a 100 million dollar investment into prize pools for fortnite tournaments to massive celebrities such as Drake and England footballers Dele Alli and Harry Kane playing with Twitch’s most successful streamer Ninja, there is no doubt that Fortnite has brought the gaming to the forefront of public attention once again.


Also the growing success of esports tournaments such as Dota’s TI, Counter-Strike’s Majors and the League of Legends World Championship Series time and time again selling out massive venues has shown the willingness of people to pay good money to go and watch an esport live. The 2017 League Of Legends world championships finals for example sold out the Beijing national stadium in China, designed for the 2008 olympics with 80,000 seats, as well as previously selling out the 21,000 capacity staples center in America which is commonly used to host NHL, NBL and AFL matches.


So with esports selling out olympic sized stadiums and forever garnishing more celebrity attention, is it not only a matter of time before my colleague any many others like him finally realise the popularity and reality of computer games as viable spectator sports?

 

Photo Credit : Copyright: ESL | Adela Sznajder

 

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Why Esports Matters To You - Committee Members
Esports brings together a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. Over the coming weeks we're going to look at the different groups in university esports and see what brought them into this wonderful industry. This week we're focusing on committees.
 
Being on a society committee is tough work. You're responsible for getting the ball rolling with teams and your also responsible when things go awry. Ultimately societies are built on how effective their committee is at capturing and maintaining their members attention.
 
So why do people get involved in esports? What reason could they possibly have to put themselves through such stress? We spoke to committee members up and down the country and looked at what enticed them into esports.
 
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"I wanted some way to be able to actively participate and contribute to my society. Traditionally I haven’t dealt with losing in games very well but playing esports has helped me learn how to lose gracefully and turn it into a positive and a learning experience. These communication and teamwork skills are just so applicable to real life as well and prepares students for jobs in the future"
Angela "Angeljho" Lukic, Newcastle University Gaming Society
 
"More than anything it's just about bringing people together through enjoyment of the game and desire to compete. Personally I like just building events and watching everything come together."
- Mark "Su10kt" Flanagan, Derby Raptors
 
"I got into esports at first as a player, being a huge fan of old school shooters such as Halo 3 and Team Fortress 2. I eventually found myself leading Swansea's Overwatch teams. This led me onto running for committee as there was a large gap for leading other games. Being the esports admin for the Swansea Gaming Society is an amazing opportunity; networking with other universities, forming larger communities and overall publicising and solidifying esports in the UK."
- Tom "Curio" Bagot, Swansea Gaming Society
 
Warwick Committee @ NSE Launch
Warwick's Committee at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere
 
 
As with just about anyone volunteering their time, you have to have a passion of sorts for the work at hand. One thing Angela, Mark and Tom all share in common is exactly that. Not only is it passion that drives a lot of committee members but transferable skills. I know personally my experience running Swansea Gaming Society translated very well to my other jobs both inside and outside of esports.
  
What skills have you found have helped you in esports? Let us know in the comments.
 
 
Image credits to STORYBOXSQUARED and Warwick Esports Society.

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Freshers - How To Engage Your Student Body

It's that time of the year again! Love it or hate it, Freshers waits for no one. It's always an interesting one - the first test for a new committee; the first real engagement with the new intake. Freshers can very much make or break a society. So what can you do to ensure a smooth and great Freshers for your society? Join us as we take a look at the tried and tested ways to ensure your society breaks into its demographic!

Your number one source of members, at least for most societies, is going to be your Freshers' Fair stand. Making your stand erm... stand out is quintessential to making a good impact and you can do this through a number of ways. Having your stand representative of your society and its activities is a great start. Posters of games you guys play, your society's esports jersey on display, maybe even a console or laptop set up with an engaging title. If your stand looks busy it'll make your engagement come naturally. Not too busy however or you'll risk your prospective members being overwhelmed. Also make sure to have enough staff at any given time on hand to help. Make sure you have someone available to answer questions while another committee member is busy talking but don't over exert yourself or your team. The Freshers' Fair portion of the week can be a long slog even without the tiredness from overworking yourself.

 

Next, online engagement. Have you ever heard of a little platform called Discord? Discord has very quickly become the standard communication instrument of gaming communities everywhere and gaming societies are no exception. It isn't just enough to have a Discord server, it needs to be active with friendly and welcoming discussion. Having the right amount of channels is a key way to ensure it's active. In the past I've seen Discord servers that have too many channels and their engagement has suffered for it, with slow discussions that peter out because there isn't enough activity across the server to merit the amount of channels it has. Ultimately you and your committee have to be the judge of what does and doesn't work. Some Discords are active with just two or three channels, others have over 10 that all see regular posting.

Finally, taster events. Now these come in many different shapes and sizes, from pub crawls to LANs to just normal weekly meets. The general gist of it is to have something for everyone. The core activities of your society will be the biggest defining factor in working out what activities to undertake. During my time at Swansea we held a wide range of Freshers' Week meets including regular weekly meets, lazertag, pub gatherings and even 24 hour LANs.

 

Apart from these three things there will also be specific methods and tools your society can use. For instance making use of your society's achievements (Warwick I'm looking at you), big UK-wide LANs your society has attended or potentially even giving away free stuff.

Have you got other ways we haven't mentioned? Comment them down below.


Photo Credits (in order of appearance): Keele Esports Society, Newcastle University Gaming Society & Samuel Maynard (Swansea Gaming Society).

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USL (University Siege League) Summer Finals Report

A much-anticipated grand final has concluded for the University Siege League (USL) between Bangor University and Staffordshire University. Staffs came out on top with a 3-0 over Bangor, bringing an end to the month-long tournament, which featured 10 different teams from around the UK.
Staffs, who only dropped one map on their run to the final against Oxford Brookes in Week 4, came in as many people's favourites for the finals. However Bangor were not to be written off; they finished second in the regular season, only having lost to Staffs.


Staffs previously defeated Bangor in a 2-0 victory during Week 2. Notably during the regular season match, IlllIIIlllIII of Staffs managed to pick up a staggering 16 kills on Oregon so eyes were on him as the key player to watch. Bangor were sure to come in looking to at least make a dent on the Staffs squad.

Staffs took the first map of the Bo5 final, winning 5-1 on Border.

Moving into the next map Coastline, Bangor started much stronger as to be expected on their choice of map, taking it to 4-2 in their favour. However, Staffs somehow managed to completely turn the tides with a 4 round win streak ending it on a 6-4 victory.

With Bangor now being down 0-2, the teams called for a tactical pause to discuss what they needed to fix for the match point map of Oregon.
But unfortunately it wasn't to be for Bangor. Staffs closed out the series with a clean 5-0 map, becoming the first ever USL Summer champions in a convincing 3-0.

"I think we were one if the lowest ranked teams but still got to the finals, so it felt great being the underdogs" - Spider, Captain of the Bangor.

Here’s a clip of Staffs player Rezuko's Ace on Map 3 Oregon of the USL Summer Finals

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Getting Involved With University Esports

Welcome to the home of university esports. Whether you are joining us this year or are already a part of the community you'll find something for you with NSE and there has never been a better time to be involved. Our partnership with BUCS has put esports on the map with major institutions all over the UK, university societies have grown substantially and there are more opportunities for students than ever before.

This community is for everyone with a passion for esports or gaming. Whether you want to play with friends or compete, be a caster or stream producer, be a journalist or video editor. whatever it may be, you will find a way to it at NSE and university.  

Make a NSE Account

  • Click Log In/Register at the bottom left of the page
  • Click REGISTER HERE
  • Enter your full name, university email address (ending in ac.uk) and choose a password
  • Verify your account

Don't have your university email yet? You can join the community discord here! 
You'll need to come back and make an NSE account once you have your university email to be able to play in tournaments, post content and use other platform features.

  

Find your University's society

Find your university using the search function at the top left of the page (on desktop) or top right of the page (on mobile).

Get in touch with the society using their social links!

If there is no information yet entered for your university get in touch with us at: support@nse.gg

 

Freshers Fair

Many societies will have a stall at your freshers fair. It is a perfect chance to sign up with the society and meet similarly minded people. Some may even have esports/gaming related goodies to give you! Make sure to check your university and student union websites for details on it.

 

 

Partners