In April 2018, exactly one year ago, I published my first post on Watch This Space. I started my blog with the ambition that it would follow me, and serve as a platform on which I could post regular updates about my journey into the esports industry. I launched my first blog series, “To Gfinity and Beyond”, and managed to maintain semi-regular updates until around November, but since then, the site has been lacking some fresh content. As I’m in my final year of Sixth Form, and engaged with my job at Gfinity, something had to take a back seat and I thought it best for that thing to be my blog. That said, one year on, I feel it’s time to review and recap my journey into esports so far, and recall what I have been up to over the last 12 months.
I kicked off my blog with the help of three individuals: Richard Buckley, Kieran Holmes-Darby and James Townley. For my first blog series I attended the Gfinity Elite Series and Insomnia 62 to meet each of the industry figures listed above before conducting live and online interviews. The thoughts, opinions and perspectives of those interviewed highlighted the significance that the Elite Series has on the UK esports scene. Whilst not groundbreaking, the blog series was a good first step and it did put me in contact with one of the most supportive people I’ve encountered in the industry so far – Dom Sacco.
Dom, the editor of Esports-News UK, gave me the opportunity to write for his online news outlet and it was a great experience. It was amazing to be asked to write articles, attend events as press and interview players and individuals that I looked up to. I went to the ECS Season 5 media day on behalf of ENUK and had the chance to interview the world’s best CS:GO players; an unforgettable experience. I also helped cover the UK’s first CS:GO Major – the FaceIT Major.
I then contacted Kieran Holmes-Darby – EXCEL Esports’ Co Founder and Managing Director, who I had formerly interviewed for my series “To Gfinity and Beyond”, to see if I could do some voluntary work for them. Kieran put me in contact with the comms team and I was asked to write guides, team announcements and sponsorship promotions which were published online. Whilst writing for EXCEL I had regular contact with their community manager, Alex Harris. Alex’s help was much appreciated as he showed me the ropes in many respects when it came to content, such as the guides, that I hadn’t had the opportunity to do before.
While still writing for the previously mentioned organisations, I contacted Gfinity and asked if there would be any opportunity to volunteer and gain hands-on experience working at their headquarters – the Gfinity Arena. Gfinity came back to me and explained that they were recruiting for “Event Support Staff”. I applied and managed to get the job; I couldn’t believe it! After happily volunteering for a number of months at ENUK and EXCEL, I had managed to get myself a paid role in esports. Since September 2018, my work at Gfinity has been everything I hoped it would be. I work as part of a fantastic team and the job has led to me working with a range of outstanding brands such as Halo, F1, FIFA, the Premier League and Gfinity’s own in-house tournament – the Elite Series. It felt great to have been given the opportunity by Gfinity to support the events they take such pride in, and I also found it exciting to have gone from writing about the Elite Series on my little blog to working the event and playing a small, yet necessary, role in its operation.
Over the course of the year I have been lucky enough to attend a variety of esports events. With help from my college tutors I was able to take time off to engage in work experience covering more than seven events with Gfinity as well as ECS Season 5 and the FaceIT CS:GO Major. More recently, I visited Insomnia 64 and spent the weekend in the BYOC hall celebrating my 18th birthday with two friends. After attending so many events at Wembley as a spectator and working so many with Gfinity, it was interesting to be on a different side to the industry and join others as part of the BYOC community. In-fact, I found the BYOC experience to be so fulfilling that, since returning home, I have applied to volunteer in the esports department for Insomnia 65.
One topic that isn’t news to those who follow Watch This Space is my interest in the University of Staffordshire’s course on esports business and event management. After visiting the university a number of times and having my heart set on the idea of studying esports there, I applied to join the course in September 2019. I’m pleased to announce that, since then, I have received an unconditional offer to study esports later this year. Irrespective of the extent to which universities give unconditional offers, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve managed to secure my place at Staffs and pleased that my efforts in the industry have been recognised and valued by a university.
Looking to the future, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be working CWL London at the Copper Box Arena this week! This will be my first ever Call of Duty event, whether that be as a spectator or a member of staff. CWL London is also going to be the first time that I’ve worked an event for Gfinity outside of their in-house arena in West London. Working the largest event in the history of European Call of Duty, outside of the typical environment I’m used to work in, is an exciting prospect and so I’m looking forward to making the most of the event and helping to make the event run as smoothly as possible for viewers in the arena and those watching at home.
Also looking to the future, I’m excited and fully engaged with the reality of attending university to study esports business and event management later this year. I’ve already built a relationship with some of the tutors and future students on the course so now it’s just a matter of building on that until moving-in day. Thankfully, despite being significantly further away, a direct train line from Stoke-On-Trent to London Euston should serve as an easy way to get myself from university to Gfinity’s current headquarters in more-or-less the same sort of time it takes me to get to work right now.
Overall, my first year in esports has been brilliant. I appreciate that I’ve been very lucky over the last year to meet people that have helped me along with the way and for that I’m grateful and thank everyone who has helped me achieve what I have. With CWL London just around the corner, university in sight and A-Levels nearly over, I’m confident that this next year will be even better. For more updates from me in the future, Watch This Space.