Aug. 5, 2021
Starting an Esports Organization: get to know the basics
6 min read
One step above a professional esports team is a powerful esports organization. Coordinating between multiple competitive video game scenes, the esports org is a complex system that pulls together brand deals and a fantastic support team to make their pro players stronger.
Joining the esports world is an attractive opportunity, and if playing isn't your forte, esports marketing, data analytics, event-planning, or coaching could be the perfect place for you—that or running an esports org of your own.
What is an Esports Organization?
An esports organization is a group of teams under one umbrella, using the same branding, data analytics, and prize pool money to strengthen their group. Some top examples are Team Liquid, Cloud 9, 100 Thieves, and many others. These teams all have their hands in multiple competitive games; some even have multiple teams in one game. For example, Cloud 9 has a handful of different player groups (Cloud 9 Blue, Cloud 9 White) competing in Valorant.
Esports organizations have made the industry stronger, nabbing high-profile deals and partnering with endemic and non-endemic brands to help bolster and market their teams. Because of these orgs, the esports world teems with memorable names across various esports.
One concern that some fans have is esports organizations taking over the scene and shutting out young talent. However, esports organizations have gotten large enough that they've started to combat this with younger, growth-focus groups like the Academy teams in League of Legends.
Why Would You Want To Start One?
Esports organizations are an exciting and hopefully lucrative step for an esports team. It makes sense that someone with a growing interest in management, esports, and business might want to build an esports organization out of a strong competitive gaming team.
Where to Begin
First of all, you have to lay the groundwork and start an esports team. Your org has to begin somewhere, and without a solid first team, you might have a hard time building a brand around it.
Even if you have a team already, though, the beginning of an esports organization is not the fun part (not unless you enjoy the paperwork and logistical strategy needed for early organization building). In a legal sense, you have to create an LLC for the esports organization to prepare for growth, and then from there, you have to build your brand, staff, and team(s) from the ground up.
Picking a Game
If you aren't already an established esports team, you must pick a game and draft a team. Where you start does matter quite a bit because it can influence how your journey goes. If you select a popular game as your starting point, it can mean larger prize pools, but more challenging competition. A smaller competitive scene could mean dominating the rankings, but less money, even if you do very well. So that's something you have to contemplate while starting out in the esports industry.
And then there's also the matter of your gaming professionals. You may find the perfect scene for your plans, but without good players, you're sunk. Make sure to find talented gamers with a lot of potential. You can use hiring sites like Seek-Team to find people, but going to small to moderately-sized tournaments is also an effective way to recruit.
Making a Goal Plan
To make your esports group work, you need to work out your strategy. This includes your goals, your early team, and your mission statement/logo. It would help to think about what you want to accomplish and create a logo that fits your style and intentions. Do you want to be historic and bold like Team Liquid? Do you want to be sleek and playful like Cloud 9? You have to organize your thoughts on your organization and plan how everyone working under your brand will act. Before you can get exciting sponsorship deals, you have to have an image that interests investors.
Building a Team
The most crucial core staff members you have to start with are a manager, a coach, a marketer, a finance person, and at least one esports team. You need people to run your social media, network you with large brands, organize your funds, grow your teams, etc. Together, you can foster your online and in-tournament brand, which eventually leads to adding more teams to your roster. But you always have to start with one successful team to move forward from there.
Top Games for Esports Organizations
While esports organizations exist across all levels of competitive play, there are a few top groups that all newbie teams aspire to beat. These are the games where those top orgs get their best notoriety and prizes.
Despite being a relatively new game, the esports organizations were quick to jump all over Valorant. It's no surprise, between the game's early, high-profile launch as well as its similarities with Overwatch and CS:GO. Cloud 9, Fnatic, and TSM all have their hands in the game. Also, Team Liquid is the top Valorant team in the EU.
Considering DOTA 2 is the game with the highest prize pools, esports orgs are eager to get involved. With over $34 million on the line in 2021 The Invitational, these groups can't resist fighting for that first-place win. Some top DOTA 2 groups include Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, Immortals, and Royal Never Give Up.
As the current largest competitive FPS, people play CS:GO around the world. The games are all about being the best shot, or at the very least, the most clever one. This kind of skill means teams have to build strong, synergized teams, and esports orgs are particularly fantastic at drafting and training their talent. If you look at CS:GO teams, some big-name esports orgs are Astralis, FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Cloud 9, and Fnatic.
League of Legends
Esports organizations absolutely stuff the rosters of the top teams for LoL. For example, the top 4 NA teams are all particularly large esports orgs: Team Liquid, Cloud 9, TSM, and 100 Thieves. The most recent MSI champs were a huge org: Royal Never Give Up.
Top Esports Orgs Out There
No one should take the strength of a well-run esports organization lightly. Some of the top groups earn millions from tournaments alone. For example, Team Liquid has won over $37 million over 1964 tournaments. Those numbers are just from their prize money, too. They could be earning so much more from brand deals and sponsors.
Some of the top esports organizations include Team Liquid, Cloud 9, 100 Thieves, and TSM. However, at this point, competitive video games are riddled with these successful orgs, so the scene is filled with them, from NA to EU to CK.