Do I really need an eSports agent?
Finally, after years of working your way through local and regional gaming tournaments, beating down opponents one after the other, you are now starting to receive the credit you deserve on social media. So much so that, in fact, eSports teams are beginning to reach out to you, if you haven’t already started your own eSports team, about potentially joining their rosters.
The money offered ranges from decent to probably needing a second job, but more importantly, for you is the opportunity to ditch the amateur circuit and go professional. As team contracts and terms start sliding more through your DM’s, you ask yourself the inevitable question, “Do I need an eSports agent?“
In traditional sports leagues, the thought of even sneezing on a team contract without a certified sports agent handing you a tissue would be unheard of and ill-advised. However, today, gamers on most eSports teams mostly go underrepresented by an external agency.
In this article, we will explore the world of eSports agents and help you answer the following questions:
- What is an eSports agent?
- What roles do eSports agents provide?
- Am I ready for an eSports agent?
- How to become an eSports agent?
What is an eSports agent?
Professional eSports agents handle everything from client contract negotiations with pro clubs, interfacing with media, and providing public relations, data mining, and analytics. In addition, the role of an eSports agent is to ensure sure the client achieves fair contractual market value for their services to a team, at a minimum.
However, with eSports culture still struggling to find a way to consolidate a fragmented industry with many silos into a single branded product much like the NBA or NFL, agent representation for the eSports industry at this time is still very much the wild west. Let’s dive deep into some of the critical functions eSports agents provide to secure their clients’ bag.
Roles eSports agents provide
Talent profiler and promoter
If your eSports agent sucks at everything else on this list, if they are elite at profiling and promoting talent, then you still have a shot at making it to the big leagues. Good agents should design a digital profile of their clients, marketing them as a unique talent and asset to a potential team.
This type of promotional and awareness campaign can include a digital portfolio of the player’s in-game highlight reels, personal interviews, clips from interactions with social followers, etc. Once the profile is complete, the agent should promote the player amongst eSports communities via online forums, social media advertising, and other marketing channels.
The agent is responsible for presenting a dynamic marketing plan and hype-engine behind their clients to generate buzz and excitement amongst the eSports community.
It’s not good enough for an agent to only have an in-depth understanding of a client’s gaming background, including win/loss records, in-game strengths and weaknesses, and social following, before pitching them to a team. They also need to be an expert in the gaming industry as a whole. This includes breaking down game analytics, industry trends, salary comps, sponsorships terms, and broadcasting deals.
Like traditional sporting leagues, each new ground-breaking contract resets the salary market for the entire industry, allowing agents to leverage this data when negotiating new deals. Your agent should be locked in at all times, keep in contact with you, and helping cater to your gaming to help you reach new opportunities.
Training and resource provider
Quality agents in traditional sports leagues know that getting their clients prepared for the big time often takes some out-of-pocket investment upfront before the bigger paydays on the backend. For example, agents representing many college footballs and basketball players are known to pay for some or all of their client expenses leading up to a draft day, including training, food, lodging, and travel expenses.
This is primarily because most amateur athletes cannot afford these expenses independently but also make the agent a more appealing choice.
You can trust that long before eSports agents decide to slide in your DM’s, he or she has already done a complete analysis of your potential. If they are serious about representing you, they will likely present a bag of perks that come along with it.
Some of the best agents have nerves of steel and know-how to play the game while sitting at the negotiating table. This requires an agent to know what terms you will not accept in a contract when to bend on specific clauses and also knowing when to walk away. Keep in mind that the devil is always in the details with eSports contracts, and money is only one of many critical details.
An eSports agent should negotiate a contract that protects your current and future interest, which could mean structuring the deal in a non-conventional way. We recommend finding an agent who doesn’t play it safe all the time, but also knows how to push to get you more in the deal tactfully without burning down the negotiations.
Industry relationship builder
There is an old saying that an agent is only as good as the relationships and reputation they have built within an industry. This is because it’s a lot easier to prospect new opportunities if there is already an existing network of potential suitors for your eSports talent. If possible, find an eSports agency with roots spread across many contacts within the industry, or even better, has developed a track record of getting players signed to teams.
When a team signs a player, they essentially are purchasing a commodity being sold by an agent. If there is a history of good transactions in the past, the agent will likely have gained a solid reputation amongst eSports organizations, therefore, in theory, making it a little bit easier to get your foot in the door.
Am I ready for an eSports agent?
Great question, but unfortunately, there is no one answer to this question, as it all depends on where you are in your gaming career. However, if you are at the point in your career in which you are prepared to obtain an eSports sponsorship, then chances are you are also ready to start looking for agents. Here are some other good ways to know if you are prepared to contact an eSports agent:
Be really good at your game.
We recommend that you be ranking on average in the top 20% of your gaming tournaments before reaching out to an eSports agent. Have a successful track record of competing at various levels, including online and in-person tournaments and ladders events. Show that you compete at a high level consistently and deliver your best in-game performances when the stakes are highest.
Have a dedicated and large social following
In this age of needing social proof to show you are a big deal, the primary currencies are pins, fans, subscribers, and followers. It’s a good influencer signal to show agents that you can engage large communities spread across multiple social platforms.
Prove you can influence behavior
You want to have a track record of being able to inspire followers to take action based on your interactions with them. This could include a history of promoting products to your crowd and being able to show successful metrics during those campaigns, or something as simple as having them join an email list.
Win cash prizes
eSports talent agencies are likely asking themselves two questions when deciding whether or not to represent you.
- Can they make a profit off representing you?
- Are you a sustainable investment?
And it makes sense, just like any other business, the goal is to make more money than you spend. Also, factors such as work ethic, attitude, and even the game’s popularity can impact whether or not you are seen as a long-term and sustainable investment.
You can help prove your financial value if you have a history of winning cash prizes in past tournament play. Don’t worry if your winnings aren’t massive amounts because a good agent can often forecast your future earning potential with the right opportunities.
How to become an eSports agent
Since eSports isn’t a consolidated league, there isn’t currently a set of requirements governing how to become an eSports agent for now. Naturally, agents currently operating in other sports can navigate an easier transition over to eSports because it’s still largely about negotiating sports deals at the end of the day. And yes, we feel that eSports is a sport.
However, if you are new to the game and are looking for a set of criteria, you can look to other sports leagues such as the NBA that have more lenient agent qualifications than the NFL. Here are a few recommended steps to take before trying to represent eSports clients:
Understand the legal frameworks of contract law
It would be best to understand how to create and evaluate binding contractual agreements between two or more parties. This means having a thorough comprehension of provisions that need to be included in sporting deals to governing laws that may affect the enforceability of a particular clause within the contract.
While there is no requirement that you be a lawyer to become an eSports agent, you should think like one to best protect your client and your agency. Better yet, develop a sincere relationship with a qualified attorney so you can get expert advice when you need it. Don’t put yourself or your client in a dangerous situation.
Register your agency
Before you start going around signing up clients to any representation deal, make sure to register your agency at both the state and federal levels. In addition, it is recommended to have some form of commercial insurance policy to better protect yourself in the event of legal action brought against your agency. Again, seeking a qualified and professional attorney that can assist and steer you in the right direction is vital.
Now you know more about eSports agents.
Remember, before you decide to enlist the help of an eSports agent, or become one yourself, make sure to analyze where you are in your career and determine if you are ready to take that next big step. When it comes to signing a deal with a professional team, decide if you are prepared to compete at that level.
Next, find an agent that encompasses the characteristics we outlined in the article. And while everything in this article may only be scratching the surface into the brave new world of eSports agents, it’s a damn good start!
eSports agents infographic
Here is an infographic illustrating the roles of an eSports agent: