Dec. 6, 2021
How to Start an Esports Team
7 min read
The exciting world of esports is open to everyone. Even if you don't play professionally, you can start a team.
The world of esports is an exciting subject of the video games industry that attracts many ambitious fans. One of the most high-profile ways for people to join esports is to start a team of their own.
However, the process of forming an esports team is a bit complex and has many variables. There is no step-by step explanation on how to get yourself involved in the pro scene, but here is a guide with questions that need to be addressed.
Pick Your Game
Like all entertainment media, video games, and even esports, have a wide variety of genres that all work in various ways. Before you even start to build a team, you have to pick a particular game to focus on. Sure, you could become an esports organization eventually, but you have to start small somewhere, so what game (and game type) will you pick?
These multiplayer arenas are some of the most popular esports out there. League of Legends has hosted the most-watched events in esports, and Dota 2 offers the most expensive prizes in competitive video gaming.
Some other popular MOBA games are Heroes of the Storm and Smite.
As far as making your big break, MOBAs are glamorous with lots of views (4 018 728 peak viewers for LoL World Championship 2021) and money (over $41 million for The International 2021), but they are a harder genre to get into because the competition is so fierce.
First-person shooters have always been popular with fans, and the genre constantly evolves. It even has sub-genres, like point-control or battle royale. Some classic favorites include CS:GO and Call of Duty, while newer games like Apex Legends, Valorant, and PUBG are making waves, too. The FPS genre is also really attractive to younger generations, with bright colors and cool explosions. So, it's no wonder Fortnite and Overwatch have been serious hits with new gamers.
FPS games are constantly evolving, which is friendly for new teams. But on the flip side, that also means popular games are often falling in and out of public favor, so you have to always be ready to adapt to that.
While fighting games don't have traditional teams that work together to reach a goal, these teams can be a group of professionals that train together and become better players to win titles. The top game franchises in this genre are Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Dragon Ball Fighter, and Tekken.
While your team won’t be traditional, and you will be relying on your players as individuals, fighting games as a competitive genre are fairly consistent in what’s popular and having space for fresh faces.
Much like fighters, other esport games tend to be solo players that play against other humans. Think real-time strategy (RTS) or card games like StarCraft 2, Warcraft 3, Age of Empires 4, and Hearthstone.
These games don’t boast the same prize money as the other genres, but if you have a very strong, niche player or vested interest, it could be worth it to shoot your shot.
The Business Side
One of the most exciting parts of building an esports team is the business part. These factors are critical in establishing a solid foundation for your team. Among these less-thrilling tasks include:
- You have to create a name and a logo.
- You have to register your team for whatever leagues are applicable.
- You have to register your team as an LLC if it qualifies as a business.
- You have to have a business plan
It’s best to attract a legal expert to help set up paperwork and other details. This foundation will help your team operate and achieve create results without worrying too much about the non-gaming activities of an esports team.
Be on the look for sponsors, provide solid communication and PR, pack the team with professionals. If you’re looking to start an esports team, you will need to know business administration as a whole.
Keep in mind that when you start an esports team, your squad members will have publicity of their own, that will impact the overall public image of your organization. You can make the first impress impression only once. If you plan ahead, everything will settle easier. See also our article about esport salary.
When it comes to excelling at esports, the talent on your team is very, very important. No matter how much work you put in behind the scenes, your team won't get far unless you have the skilled players to back it. Good team members are key in the starting an esports team process. The esports industry has many possibilities for skilled, charismatic, and fun players, but joining a new team can be excellent for their career as well.
Now, how do you scout these players?
Well, likely the top esports players are already on teams and in the league, so new, fresh faces with potential are probably your best shot. Check out some local or regional tournaments for players. Also, you might have some good luck checking out school club tournaments. The college scene has been growing, and it might be an effective place for scouting, helping you build your professional team. Keep a look at the grassroots, players who are just starting an esports career, and the results of your esports team might go better than expected.
To pay your players and the rest of your support staff, and if you want to make a job out of this, you have to find investors and a way to fund your group.
When you start, you might have to use personal funds or make minor brand deals with local businesses. But, when it comes to larger esports teams, look at their business models for reference and inspiration. For example, 100 Thieves has Artist Capital Management funding them and unique investors like the famous rapper Drake.
Make sure to build connections with fellow esports organizers and people outside the field, and over time you can get bigger and better investors and brand deals to support and grow your team.
Enroll in Tournaments
Tournaments are, unsurprisingly, a vital aspect of creating a popular esports team. The other components are important, but you won't be accomplishing much unless you go to events and show off your skills. One of the key steps to start an esports team is to detect whether there are available tournaments in the disciplines you want your esports team to shine!
Many of the most prominent esports tournaments, though, will be hard for a newbie team to join. So, look to local or regional tournaments first. For that, you have to focus on your region of the US/the world and research and register accordingly. There are some key exceptions to this, though.
Tournament platforms and services like WePlay Compete makes it pretty easy to register for their events; just go to their site and get registered.
Online tournaments are also a great opportunity because that means your team doesn't have to be in the exact location, and you can have an easier time getting into them. Some great sites for finding online tournaments include: Smash.gg, Battlefy.com, Gamersaloon.com, UMGgaming.com, Gamebattles.majorleaguegaming.com, and Toornament.com.
Market and Grow Your Team
Once you have your players together and have the funds to move forward and start doing tournaments, you have to do some work to market your team. Now, you could do this yourself, you could hire a marketer to join your team, or you could contract a marketing firm to do some work for you. In addition, you probably should have social media to promote your team, your players could stream their practice hours, and you always have to keep a good image. A website can also do a lot towards making your team look professional and even, in the future, hosting your event dates, merchandise, etc.
The more likable and marketable your team is, the better you can sell them to brand deals, tournaments, etc. And if you do a great job, you could become the face of an esport.