Esports – From Hobby to Profession
Written By: Mykolas Saulis
Video games have always had a special place in my heart. From an early age, I immersed myself in single-player console games. I remember playing Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts with the feeling of total control over the development and destinies of the characters brought to life within each game. My passion for video games was fostered by these experiences which later expanded to include multiplayer games and console-internet playability as popularity grew. As a result, I could now share my love of video games with other people around me and online. It is hard to believe that this hobby that I have had since I was young, has now grown into a competitive, video game-centric industry that has increased from $130 million to about $1 billion in revenue in five years.
It became routine for my brothers and I to invite friends over almost every day of the week to hone our skills on our first “esport,” Halo 3. Unfortunately, big changes in future installments of the Halo series created a game that was no longer what we initially loved to play, and others within the community felt the same. Luckily, we found another game that gave us the same drive for improvement – League of Legends.
My younger brother and I were heavily inspired by the “professional” scene as we continued to play and learn about League of Legends. The celebrity status of the best players and high quality production created a global community which added to our appreciation of the game and validated our passion for esports. This global community created a necessity for a seasonal tournament on a large scale that culminated with the annual League of Legends World Championship. When I saw news that a university within a reasonable distance was the first school in the United States to offer scholarships for League of Legends, I knew I had an opportunity on my hands.
I was accepted into the Computer Networking program at Robert Morris University and qualified for a 70% tuition scholarship for being decently skilled at League of Legends, which felt unreal. I was able to pursue two interests at once, but ultimately knew that my passion was in esports and my sights were set on going pro in esports.
Throughout my time at RMU, I was a part of three different League of Legends teams. Through my tournament and event experiences on these teams, I came to appreciate the people involved in esports: the players, the game designers, the event coordinators and the fans. Because of this, I am happy that the esports scene continues to expand to create a need for companies like KemperLesnik to help stimulate the growth in esports.
I am extremely fortunate to have gone to Robert Morris University because it gave me the opportunity to develop my identity and values through the esports program while developing connections in the esports industry. Working as an intern with KemperLesnik has validated my interest to pursue a career to help esports prosper. I have not met a group so willing to actively question and learn things about esports, which gives me hope for its future. I am excited to continue to learn more about sports marketing, PR and event management throughout the remainder of my stay at KemperLesnik. Esports is destined to become a global phenomenon, and I want to be able to look back and say that I helped to build it.