How it all works

Esports Startup Orgs Explained

Gaming
esports startup orgs og dota 2 notail

Johan "N0tail" Sundstein back when OG was green. (Image credit: OG)

Ten years ago, esports startups were a myth. Since then, a lot has improved but the most important thing that changed, are gamers themselves.

The esports industry has grown a lot over the years and now might be the best time to give a try. The once inexperienced gamers have grown up, got education, and some of them decided to use the knowledge gained into the field that they have been involved in for multiple years. Thus, they created their own little business out of it. Founding a startup can be done by anyone in our industry, it can either be the captain/player, a guy with a vision to become an owner of a team or investor/s.

The Expected Journey

You are 18-22 years old, you have been playing this game for long enough to be relevant and aim to make a living out of it while of course, being one of the best at it. But you cannot do it alone, playing pubs daily, getting a good rank doesn’t really get you any money at the end of the month to show your parents or yourself that what you are doing for over 10hours a day, can make you any sort of money, and provide for your expenses. You decide to give it a try, you form a team, and slowly recruit 4 other players with you to join you on your journey, and that usually takes multiple weeks to finish. You are starting on ground zero, with only a promise to yourself and your teammates that ONE DAY this will be their daily paid job.

Being young means you are very inexperienced with anything connected to business, but it also means you are very creative. The latter is something that investors love to put their money in, after several months, your org and team get noticed after somewhat mediocre results in tournaments and you are approached by multiple managers, potential sponsors, etc. The only thing you ask for (at the start), is a monthly salary that is enough to provide for your needs, and a bootcamp, so that you can make the big step and improve a lot faster with your team.

Once you have reached this level, your org has officially become a startup you have your young core of players, you have a manager to deal with it all, and you have a sponsor to provide for your expenses.

bootcamp esports

A bootcamp example. (Image credit: Fredrick Tendong/unsplash.com)

What Are the Expenses Here?

Salaries in Esports

The players expect to get paid at the end of the month, because in reality, the only thing they have been focused on, is the game and they do not have enough time for a part-time job to provide for themselves, so that’s where the salary kicks in.

Salaries depend on the tier of the team, and how good they are.

  • Tier 3: €200 – €400
  • Tier 2: €700 – €1300
  • Tier 1: €2000 and above

Bootcamps: The Path to Success

The main point of why players join an org so early into their career is bootcamps. Bootcamps help the teams improve a lot faster and gain a lot of team chemistry that they have been lacking before. The players meet themselves in real life, and the communication there compared to the online experience is a lot better. They are usually made before a major event is about to happen and your sponsors expect a good placement in that tournament.

They are organized in a convenient location where all the players are able to join. Esports teams are usually teams of mixed nationalities where in a single team you can have a German, a Lebanese, a Jordanian, a Bulgarian and a Romanian (Team Nigma). The org provides for the accommodation, food, traveling and visas. The accommodation needs to be a place that is big enough to fit all 5 players, or 6 if the team has a coach with them, and a place where they are able to have a room to fit all of the players and their gear. Also, let's not forget that good internet is important.

What’s in it For the Sponsors?

Before investing into a potential young org, sponsors make a contract with the owner and players. The sponsors can either ask for exposure, or a percentage of their future income for a set period. Exposure means the team presents the sponsor. Let’s say the sponsor is Asus, ASUS expects the players to have the company logo on their jerseys, mention them everywhere they get interviewed or speak publicly, have their logo in their streams etc.

N0tail dota 2 OG ESL

Image credit: ESL

A Story That Many Dream Of

One of the more successful stories (if not most successful) about an organization made and ran by players is OG. Initially known as Monkey business the team was founded by Johan "N0tail" Sundstein and Tal "Fly" Aizik and consisted of five young and very prominent players with a common goal - to be the best. It started off with just the players but was later sponsored and picked up by RedBull.

The team which had started from ground zero, won multiple major tournaments and is currently the only team to win The International two times in a row, which resulted in them having a total of $33,493,135 in prize money alone from tournaments.

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Stefan Nikolovski