Studying Business and Management at a top 10 UK university allowed me to slide right into my first role at Fnatic. After finishing university I applied for a role in the department of sales and business development, where I was an account manager for 6 months. My main role was to look after sponsor clients whilst on the hunt for new ones. I always knew I wanted to get into esports, but this was the first real job I ever applied for. After Worlds 2015, the opportunity to step into team management finally presented itself.
I was in the right place at the right time, and although I had little experience, management believed I was a good fit and the rest is history! What makes the role so interesting is that it varies from extremely important duties to basic manual labour jobs. For example, on the same day I can be dealing with a roster swap; undergoing buyout and contract negotiations, whilst simultaneously taking out the trash and fixing the dishwasher.
Healthy environment = maximum success
As a manager, you are responsible for the team house and players’ living conditions. If the players are not comfortable in their home, they won’t perform to their maximum potential. For example, if someone cannot sleep at night because his window has no blinds, he will likely tilt into oblivion. Sleep is very important to most gamers and teenagers in particular. To this end, Febiven’s room now has a very pretty set of black-out blinds/cloth nailed into his ceiling...
There are many elements to maintaining a good physical environment. Everything from making sure that you have a valid lease on the flat, to hiring cleaners to ensure the house is not comparable to a 2nd year university students’ accommodation. Everything needs to run smoothly, otherwise players cannot devote their full focus to practice and playing the game… which at the end of the day is what they’re paid for!
Essentially, a pro gamer needs the following 4 things: sleep, internet, a PC setup and food. It's my job to ensure the players are not left wanting in any of these essential areas
On a daily basis, I’m responsible for the following 12 people:
Head coach and assistant coach
cook and cleaner
Anything that these individuals need must be facilitated by myself. I must ensure they’re on time and doing their jobs that they’re paid to do. This is where the pressure of being a manager starts to come in. If the team is late because I didn't book a taxi, or Rekkles doesn't get on the plane because the name on his ticket is wrong, that's on me.
For example, I once misread an email that said the Riot shuttle to take us to LCS would arrive at 17:45. This was actually the time it was to arrive at the LCS studio, not the gaming house. So when the bus turned up at 17:00 and Spirit was still singing merrily in the shower… well, let’s say people weren’t impressed. Something like this can really ruin a team's focus, especially on game day.
Repping Team Colours
The manager is the point of contact for the team; if anyone wishes to speak to or see the players, they usually need to go through me. This means that I deal with any Riot and Fnatic documentation and handle any requests on the team's behalf.
It’s essential that a manager balances the players’ happiness with that of the organisation (Fnatic), Riot Games and the outside world (fans and press). If a player does not want to do a interview or take a picture with a fan for whatever reason, I must be the messenger. Oftentimes the messenger is the poor sod that takes the bullet, but at the end of the day if the manager is taking pressure and stress off his players, it's a win for the team.
Fnatic is a huge organisation with many offices and staff around the globe. I have regular Skype calls and meetings to coordinate things like new sponsors, press requests, player marketing, and video content such as Life of Legends. The players must be educated on the happenings inside the organisation as well as their role as an ambassador.
When the time comes to change a player or make a roster swap, it’s usually up to our CGO, Patrik “cArn” Sattermon, to deal with the high-end negotiations. However, he’s a very busy guy: after all, we have 5 teams in different games. Sometimes, then, it falls to myself to plan for the eventual changes and make sure that everything runs smoothly.
Most recently, we changed our top laner. Removing Gamsu and bringing Kikis was a difficult decision, and due to the time frame we had to move quickly. It was up to me to coordinate with G2, Fnatic and Kikis, and many things need to be considered: not only the most important factors such as buyout price and player contract, but other essential aspects such as flights/travel for both players, web announcements coordination, Fnatic jerseys with Kikis on the back etc. I didn’t get much sleep over the few days change took place, but in situations like this you have to make sacrifices to make sure everything is perfect.
The life of an esports manager is an exciting one: I travel the world for free, attend amazing events and meet awesome people. By the end of 2016 I will have travelled to Katowice, Rotterdam, Cologne, Krakow, Seoul and America (if we make Worlds). Although at times it can be stressful and there’s a dearth of real downtime, the tradeoff is absolutely worth it.
I hope this gives you more context on the role of an LCS manager. I like to answer as many questions as possible via my Twitter (@fnaticquaye), so feel free to hit me up and I’ll do my best to answer any that are reasonable!