Some of you might have noticed that ESPN 2 broadcasted the “Heroes of the Dorm,” a Heroes of the Storm tournament, with the final match happening on April 10. This was a great step in bringing more attention to the growing industry of eSports and helping introduce people unfamiliar with competitive gaming to the concept.
To the untrained eye, eSports might seem like a bunch of kids just playing games, but it is so much more. It’s a growing industry filled with coaches, assistant coaches, reporters, referees, staff to handle the business side of every team, sponsors, and organizations that oversee and govern the different games and tournaments.
Just like more traditional sports, a lot of work goes into creating and running an eSports team. With millions of dollars on the line at every tournament, every player has to be at their peak performance and completely in sync with their teammates. Here is a brief insight into what goes into supporting the gamers who play the game.
Who Manages the Team?
Every team is organized differently, but the management on a professional eSports team generally has an owner, a team manager, a head coach, and several assistant coaches that manage the athletes and the support staff. Each role has a different job to help support the athletes be the best they can be. Every single one needs to be well acquainted with effective sports management and leadership principles.
The person in the team’s management that gets the most attention is the head coach. His main role is ensuring the general development of the team. This requires a lot of leadership skills, being able to identify each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, and developing strategies for conquering opponents. A main focus for coaches is tending to the general welfare of the team, keep them physically in shape and mentally sane. Their insane training schedule can easily burn out players, and it’s the coach’s job to prevent that.
There is also the team manager, who sometimes is the same person as the coach, but for more profitable teams, a different person. A team manager is in charge of the non-athlete employees and runs the business and organizational side of the team. Their role often includes hiring and firing athletes, securing sponsorships to fund the team and scheduling the athletes for different tournaments and events. Team managers often are the ones who interact with the press or act as the face of the team and organization. They make sure everything's running smoothly, that the needs of the athletes are being met and ensuring everybody is getting paid.
Supporting The Team
There’s more to the big name teams than just a coach, a manager, and the athletes. The more successful the team, the more support staff they have. There are assistant coaches that specialize in specific aspects of the game, analysts who find weaknesses in their opponent’s strategies, and tech specialist who make sure the team’s gear is running perfectly.
There are also people who support to the team outside of the actual competitions. The larger the organization, the more people it requires. Larger teams need HR workers, accountants, PR and marketing specialists, chefs, secretaries, custodians, and other positions more traditional business need to function.
Where’s The Money?
So somebody has to pay for all of this right? These professional teams don’t just play for fun, it’s their career and they make a decent living doing it. Each team, and individual athletes, have their own revenue sources.
The most obvious is the prize money from tournaments. Depending on the game and the tournament’s notoriety, this prize money can range from a few hundreds to millions of dollars. For example, the DOTA 2 international championship gave the winners over six million dollars in prize money.
Another understandable money source is sponsorships. Entire teams, or individual athletes, are paid to endorse different products or being paid just to host a logo on their clothing. Sponsors vary from Coke and McDonald’s, to tech companies like Alienware and Intel.
Other revenue sources for the team include sharing ticket sales with tournaments, ads in tournament streams, team sponsored events, merchandising, and athlete appearances. The earnings from these different sources are what fund both the athletes but also all of the support staff and coaches. The normal split in profits is that the athletes pocket most of the prize money while the team/organization gets the rest.
eSports Will Continue to Grow
This last year, revenues from the eSports industry was 325 million dollars. By the end of 2016, it’s project to be 463 million, and by the end of 2019, it will be over one billion dollars, according to NewZoo’s 2016 eSports report. It is clearly going to continue to grow as more games get the eSports treatment and it continues to gain more attention.