Nicholas ‘PHAZED’ Kuhn, is back to drop another massive South African esports knowledge bomb. In part one of this little mini-series Nick told us what you should know if you want to start a multi-gaming organisation, as well as giving us some insight into how tough it can be for teams and MGOs outside the top tier of local esports.
In part two, that’s the one you’re currently reading, Nick gives us a list of things you need to know and do if you want to take that little team or MGO of yours and make it all the way to the top. Think of it as a guide to being all the manager you can be. Minor spoiler alert: You’re going to need to be doing a hell of a lot of managing if it’s just you.
But enough of our rambling, you lot only come here to hear from the experts – over to Nick.
Up, up and away:
The most important tip that I can give to any current or prospective teams, individuals or MGOs trying to break into the top tier of local gaming is that there is no set way in which you need to operate. Do not attempt to copy and paste what industry leaders do and hope that it works as then you will never have any direction.
Instead learn from what you like/dislike about other MGOs and go from there. You must have a clear understanding of what your goals are and what the philosophy behind your brand is. These are the basic building blocks of your organisation and ultimately should be the unique selling point of your team/organisation.
Other important tips would be as follows:
Learn from the current international scene: Whilst South Africa (and Africa) is a good couple of years away from the standards of the international scene, this shouldn’t prevent you from learning from what worldwide leading MGOs did well or not well.
Learn from the past international scene: We are in a very fortunate position where you can “rewind” time and see how Fnatic, Team Liquid, Cloud9, G2 Esports, Na’Vi, etc. grew over the years and how their business models changed as investment grew in the scene.
Don’t be afraid to see how they all were back in 2005-2012. A lot of important lessons can be learned by doing this. In addition, our scenes can be compared to some events in the years way back then. This then provides you with the insights to predict how the scene might change locally and what path you would like to take as the scene and its standards change.
Content is king: We are in an industry that is entirely contingent on technology and social media. If you do not understand this then you do not understand what you need to do to breach the top tier of organisations. It really baffles and irks me when MGOs, teams or players underplay or even neglect the importance that content has on your brand or growth of your brand. There are even quite a few Masters MGOs in South Africa that do not appear to produce content on a regular basis.
You must ensure that you produce content for your fans to keep them up to date with what’s happening in your organisation. Your content should be in such a way that you can promote your players, promote your organisation and your sponsors/partners while still portraying your unique selling point.
Promote your players: This is something that is neglected by pretty much every MGO in South Africa, with very, very limited exceptions. Your players are your biggest and most marketable asset. As esport begins to grow in the mainstream media and gets televised nationally, players and organisations are going to have to ensure that their image rights are maintained. if you do not understand how to successfully market your players then you will fall short of funding and top players when image rights are industry standards.
A very easy quick example would be; if you were managing a team or organisation and signed Olofmeister (CS:GO) or Dendi (DOTA). Would you accompany your news with a massive logo or a photo/video of the said player wearing your attire? Your answer should be: The player wearing your attire, because that is what people will react the most to. The same principle should apply to the local scene.
Players want to feel that their futures are safe in your hands as a manager/MGO, promoting your players is a very easy thing to do that goes a long way.
If you’re unsure on how to do this, then go and research the key players in the local and international industry (see how this research goes a long way!). They do things when they sign new players or their players recently made a big play or were featured in interviews, etc.
Promote your organisation: This is quite self-explanatory.
Share your major news with external media: To reach more of the esports market (including various potential sponsors who follow the local gaming media) you need to ensure that your major news is featured on various local gaming media pages. This will drive more attention your way and prospective fans and investors will then usually head on over to your social media pages, which, if you have marketed your players, produced your own additional content and marketed other organisational news, will result in an increase in your fan base and an ever-growing market position.
What a lot of new entrants fail to understand is that prospective “generic” esports sponsors already follow a lot (if not all) of the leading gaming media companies. If your name is featured on these sites, you’re indirectly marketing yourself to these prospective sponsors. Treat every announcement as a press release and it makes things a ton easier.
Who to contact: If you don’t know who to contact to get your organisation news featured then simply email or DM the various gaming pages on any of the social media pages to find out. Once you have the relevant contacts then you can simply email them with your press release and any other background information that you think they would need to produce an article (if they are up for it). I can guarantee you that these journalists/media companies are keen to help and will be receptive to receiving additional sources of news to cover.
Continuously adapt: The African esports scene will undergo a vast amount of changes within the next three to five years as the industry will continue to grow. To stay at the top or even breach the top you must adapt to what the scene requires and what the scene may require soon. You will always need to analyse what your competitors are doing (locally and internationally) and ensure that your marketing plans or internal matters (health, happiness, etc.) are adapted to keep up with the changes.
Professionalism: With the esports industry rapidly growing, mainstream media covering local esports and the increase in amount of and value of investors locally there will be a massive drive for professionalism. Teams and MGOs will need to start compiling budgeting reports, financial statements, tax returns, various legal compliances, social media etiquette and detailed sponsorship proposals if they would like to be taken seriously. There’s a reason why the top world wide esports organisations have offices. Teams and MGOs alike need to factor this into their long-term plans.
There’s also a reason why giants Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers (two of the top four global audit, tax and advisory firms) have both recently featured reports on the esports market and should be an extremely significant indicator that professionalism is required in esports.
Disregarding the importance of professionalism locally (while we are still in a relatively infant state compared to internationally) is grossly negligent.
That’s all folks.
We can’t thank Nick enough for all the time and effort he put into these pieces. It definitely cost him a good few hours of time he could have spent playing video games, and we all know that’s the best kind of time. Our sincerest apologies for that.
We’ll resume our regular programming and tomfoolery next time.