I'm Jamie Wootton, an esports enthusiast in the UK.
In 2019, I’m planning to apply to join the University of Staffordshire’s BA (Hons) Esports course which focuses on the business side of the industry.
Previously I only followed CS:GO, the game which got me into esports and competitive gaming, however recently I have been making an effort to branch out by watching other esports including FIFA and Rocket League. I’ve attended tournaments in the domestic scene and have been watching those streamed on the global stage.
I’m aware I have more to learn about the industry, and so I’ve decided to make a start by talking to key figures about the scene. I’ve created this blog to publish esports related content including interviews that I’ve recorded along the way.
I hope you'll join me on my journey as I try to learn more about the wider esports space. If you have something to add to what I've published on my blog, or wish to get in contact with me, please complete the contact form.
As some of you may be aware, late last year I visited Staffordshire University, the self-proclaimed ‘Home of Esports’, and was blown away by the esports course; so much so it’s one of two options I’m considering for my future, post Sixth Form, life.
This weekend I returned to the University to attend the latest open day and was yet again blown away by how impressive and aligned to my interests the course is. Unlike last year however, Staffs had a new facility to show off – the University’s new esports hub.
Designed to replicate tournament conditions both on the playing and broadcasting front, the new hub was unbelievable. Equipped with top-tier PCs and peripherals, Staffs have yet again done esports proud and provided a world class environment for students to study and learn more about the esports ecosystem.
To see more of the esports hub, click on the link here to watch a video made by Staffordshire University.
If you know the UK CS:GO scene, the likelihood is that you know, or at the very least have heard of, Jake “Boaster” Howlett. Along with being a rather comedic chap, the happy-go-lucky CS:GO personality has attended numerous UK events and has recently worked with Faceit to get involved with fans and produce video content; something Boaster became known for through his YouTube channel.
At the ECS Season 5 Finals I had the opportunity to speak to Boaster and, in our exchange, he agreed that I could contact him further down the line to answer a series of questions. The following piece is a write up of our little Q&A session and aims to give you an insight into the mind of Boaster, his confidence levels going into a series of upcoming tournaments and his thoughts on working in different avenues of esports.
To set the scene, Boaster and his team – We Hawt – recently qualified to compete in Omen by HP’s two month long online league and just beat another UK team to make it to the ESL UK Premiership’s LAN finals. Despite these impressive results, We Hawt find themselves without the support of a professional organisation. So, the first question I put to Boaster was about how he and his team planned on practicing for their upcoming schedule that, if successful, may land them a professional sponsorship. Boaster responded by claiming, “In my past teams, I see that some players aren’t putting in the grind out of practice hours”, and it’s because of this that, “The UK as a whole is playing catch-up”. He went on to describe how he, “built this team to consist of players who still have a passion for CS”, as when you’re putting in the extra hours, “it makes a huge impact on the big games that possibly attract the attention of professional organisations”.
“You need confidence to be the best – if you don’t believe in yourself then you’re already losing”
Whilst Boaster helped Epsilon win the previous ESL UK Premiership Finals, in the process bagging roughly £4,700 for the organisation, some of his other current teammates aren’t as seasoned in playing in a LAN environment against UK teams. With this in mind, I asked the UK pro how confident, on a scale of 1-10, he is for the upcoming events. Boaster replied with a bold, “10”, and explained how, “You need confidence to be the best – if you don’t believe in yourself then you’re already losing”. Boaster summarised his thoughts on the matter stating, “I think winning the ESL UK Premiership and Omen is very possible [because] we’re a team of star players… We’ve got this.”
A question I’m always curious to learn the answer to relates to pros thoughts on competitive cups and leagues and which they believe to be more beneficial to the scene. Both formats of competition have their advantages. However, I suspect that leagues better contribute to the scene by giving teams more playing time and sponsors an increased return on investment due to the fact that more games are taking place. When asked, Boaster explained that leagues, “Give you time to prepare for playoffs but if you’ve been a team for a while and have a decent enough map pool then the cups are ideal”. Boaster then concluded that ultimately, “Any sort of tournament in the UK is helpful [as] it keeps us busy and also brings in more sponsors and investment.”
“Right now I’m at a sweet spot where I can eventually do both [the talent side of the industry and playing professionally].”
As some reading this article may be aware, Boaster won one of Faceit’s many competitions and as a result he and his roommate were jetted off to Cancun. Winning the competition enabled Boaster to co-host the Season 4 Finals of Faceit’s ECS alongside industry legends such as Alex “Machine” Richardson and Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert and so I thought it appropriate to ask him just how surreal that experience felt. Boaster responded saying that, “The event was amazing and I got a sweet taste of perhaps another career pathway”, but then added, “Right now I’m at a sweet spot where I can eventually do both [the talent side of the industry and playing professionally].”
“Going out on stage or being put in front of a camera feels natural.”
The final question I put to Boaster was regarding his work with Faceit at the Season 5 Finals of ECS in Wembley. Following on from his work at the previous ECS Finals in Cancun, Boaster was invited by Faceit to engage with fans and produce a series of video content for the company. I asked Boaster if this was a side of esports he enjoyed or if it was instead simply a way of paying the bills. To this Boaster offered an insight into his past as he spoke about how prior to taking the pathway of an aspiring pro gamer, “I was actually performing in theatres and training in dancing, acting and singing”. He expanded on this by stating how, “Going out on stage or being put in front of a camera feels natural.” While Boaster could definitely see himself in that line of work, he was keen to point out that, “My main goal is to become pro.”
Boaster has a busy schedule of upcoming tournaments ahead and so I was grateful for the time he set aside to answer my questions, which have allowed me to learn more about the man behind the screen and delve into his future prospects. To find out more about Boaster and his team, click on the links to his YouTube channel and Twitter here and here.
Following on from my previous guides, a week ago today, my fourth piece was uploaded to exceL Esport’s website.
Titled, “How to play in a Team”, it aims to teach just that. With top tips from one of exceL’s resident pros – Pwndx – the article advises readers on how best to join or create a Rocket League team by listing his top three tips.
Last week in Counter-Strike, Complexity Gaming won the American Minor and bagged themselves $30,000 along with the opportunity to have in-game stickers. In turn, they also qualified for the main Major qualifier in September; a feat which hasn’t been achieved since 2014. This achievement is significant to the UK scene as not only was the American Minor hosted in London; but also, dephh, one of Complexity’s players, is from the UK.
Details about dephh’s success and Complexity’s rather impressive performance at the Minor, can be found in the article I wrote for esports-news.co.uk.
Recently, along with watching the World Cup, I’ve written two FIFA 18 esports guides for exceL.
Both guides are written versions of the organisation’s professional player’s opinions about certain aspects of the game such as Squad Battles and Custom Tactics. The guides aim to inform players of ways to improve their game.