Four Questions To Ask Before You Start An Esports Organization
Every day I look on social media, I see new esports organizations starting up or announced. I love the entrepreneurship spirit, some founders jump in without thinking big picture. To help with that, I developed four questions to help think big picture. Each of these are variations of questions asked in startup culture. After taking the time to answer each of these questions, you should have an idea of where you want to go in the long run.
1. Why do you want to start an organization?
Knowing why you want to start an esports organization is the first question to ask yourself. There are countless reasons behind why, but understanding your reason is key. This can be trying to gain experience coaching ,building a brand, or pure passion for esports. Whatever your reason may be, using that as your map for any decisions you make for the organization.
Lets use trying to gain experience coaching in Overwatch as an example. Your ideal esports organization would be an Open Division team with you as coach. With that in mind, the main things you would want to focus on would be recruiting and developing players. Creating strategies and winning games would also be up there for main focuses.
If your main goal of starting the organization was to build a personal brand in a game, your goals would change. Main focuses of this would instead be making connections and making a personal brand. Winning games and developing players are still important, but not the highest priority.
Each reason behind starting an organization has main goals and secondary goals. Taking time to make a list of each type of goals, and communicating to all involved helps every stay on the same page. This prevents tension or different expectations for everyone, and keeps things moving smooth.
There is one reason that should never be your reason for starting an organization. That is using it as a get rich quick strategy, and trying to make as much money from it as possible. With that said, it is of course important and necessary to bring in money as an organization. While esports is growing and so is the money involved, the most successful people do it out of pure passion.
2. What is going to make your organization different?
Despite what many think, not every esports organization can be the best in the world. While doing well in the game(s) that you are competing in are important, it’s not a guaranteed way to stand out. Focusing more on your players and staff than other organizations also is not enough. Several people I’ve work with have said that as their stand out trait, and it never stuck.
I know I’m not being much help so far on this question, but creativity with this super important. You could have a unique branding that is either very professional, or so funny that it stand out. Your logo or name isn’t the only way that you can make your organization stand out. The Hangzhou Spark for example, became a fan favorite due to their color combination of pink and blue. Wendy’s is another example of a brand that stands out due to they approach social media.
Moving beyond your how you look or act, how else can you stand out? Having a compelling story, or focusing on your local community can organization unique. You can even become recognized from having a crazy strategy that always seems to work.
The goal behind the question is to get you thinking creatively. Try to find that one thing, large or small, that makes your organization one of a kind. This is easily the hardest question of the four, so don’t worry if it doesn’t come right away. Take your time, find out what will fit alongside your goals and go for it.
3. What games are you going to compete in and where?
While the easiest option may be to hop on the bandwagon of the most popular game, most of the time it isn’t the smartest. Many organizations do this because it is the shiny thing tons of views, but there often isn’t a amateur scene. That means it is easy to get lost in the crowd, and have very few options to compete for prizes. Even after saying that, if your only passion for esports is for that one game go ahead and start a team for that game.
If you’re looking to start an organization in one of the many games you play, its best to do research first. Look for games that have an active amateur competitive scene, and you feel like you’d have a chance to make an impact. These games may be a couple of years old, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still respectable esports. Picking which game your organization will play in is a choice that is completely up to you based on your goals.
After picking which esport, you need to figure out where you’ll compete. In a game such as Overwatch, they have a “Path to Pro” which allows any team to compete in different stages. Blizzard organizes this, and is an example of a publisher run league. The other option would be third-party run, where the organizer is not the game’s publisher. An example would be Upsurge Esports, an North American tournament and league organizer.
There are pros and cons for each types, but it depends on what is available for your esport. Have an idea of what’s available, because the main goal of an esports organization is to compete. That may not be a surprise to you, but many people forget to figure out where they’ll compete.
4. What are my strengths and weaknesses, and who do I need to help me?
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, recognizing them will make your life much easier. Before reading any further, take 10 minutes to write down a handful of each that you think relate to esports. Let’s say that you are an expert at graphic design and social media, but not the greatest recruiter or coach. If that’s the case, you’ll want to try others to help fill in those gaps for you. You’ll also need to make sure to account for others weaknesses as well, and make sure you cover those too.
There are a ton of skills needed to run an organization, so don’t expect one person to fill in all the gaps. It may take a small team, and recruiting is usually not the easiest thing so take your time. One thing to mention is if you are starting an organization by yourself, you are the CEO. Recruiting a CEO is such a bad habit small organizations try to do for whatever reason. Down the road if the organization grows large that is something else, but a four man org shouldn’t recruit a CEO. They would just start their own esports organization if they wanted to run one.
One last point I want to make is about bringing in and working with your friends or family. A majority of people suggest against it, and there are a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Some people still do, and that doesn’t mean they are instantly doomed to fail. It can work, but ideally in situations where your personalities don’t clash. If you are a vocal leader, having the other person being content as a follower would be best. Two vocal leaders are likely to clash and could put tension on a relationship. No matter what, at the end of the day make sure a relationship isn’t ruin by an esports organization.
Using these four questions to think about the big picture will put you miles ahead of those who don’t. Starting an esports organization is an exciting time but having a successful one is more fun. So take your time and think about why you want to start the organization and what will make you different. After that, finding the right esport and then the right people set you up for success.
If I can leave you with anything, it is that passion is the core of everything in esports. Don’t let lofty goals or stressful times take away for how much you loving being a part of esports. If you let that drive you, I promise you will find success in the end.
If you have other questions about starting an esports organization, or want to talk about esports you can find me on Twitter!