Managing a team of gamers

31 May 2019

Interview with 

Jon Winkle, Managing Director of epic.LAN

ESPORTS, GAMER, GAMING, CHAIR

A gamer at a computer

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What does it take to run a team that plays all kinds of different games professionally. Jon Winkle is the managing director of epic.LAN. They put on eSports events. Jon also manages players.

Jon - We’ve been organising LAN parties since my university days back in 2003. Yes I know ran the first little event Village Hall is a typical LAN party was back then played games since as soon as I could have a computer as soon as I was allowed on I think it was an Atari ST for anybody who remembers that as well as I can, then next console was the SEGA Master System. I've carried on playing since then. I'm no better than I was! I prefer to sit back and organise things now instead of playing now.

Chris - If people haven't heard of a LAN party before LAN stands for local area network which means that you basically in the old days which I think you're allowed to say now you'd sort of hook up your consoles together you would literally sit in the same room as people and you would game against them. Nowadays it's a little bit more complicated of course with the advent of the Internet and things like that you can do it on your own in your bedroom which I get I sometimes feel is a bit less social because it's nice to actually see people face to face. Don't you think.

Jon - Exactly. I think people thought when the Internet grew and capacities weren't opened up that LAN parties would die off. They're still growing even now despite people having huge internet speeds in their house ours is growing year on year. The UK the largest LAN party in the UK has about 3000 people worldwide. There are LAN parties up to about ten thousand people exactly like you say. You can’t substitute that play and face to face thing your opponents across the row having a bit of banter between between the opponents as well when you get a good kill you don't get that when you playing online from home.

Chris - What are some of the big games in the scene nowadays because you know people used to play things like Goldeneye multiplayer four controllers you know. That was almost seen as the definitive game that you had to play but what is it nowadays that people like to play either in a LAN setting or even just online from an eSports point of view.

Jon - You top titles that moment Counter-Strike is still going strong. It's now Counter-Strike Global Offensive. But that said many iterations in the past Dota 2 which is a mobile game is still huge from a viewer point of view. League of Legends is growing again in the UK and then there's the obvious current titles and we're trying to watch where they go from an eSports point of view you likes a Fortnite they've got an emerging sports scene so we're keeping our eye on those to see where they go in the future as well.

Chris - Have you seen a spurt in interest since the advent of games like Fortnite particularly because I've personally noticed playing quite a lot of games myself, there seemed to be before Fortnite where you had a lot of Starcraft 2, League even was quite big stuff like that but then you've sort of got post Fortnite where you've got like really quite young kids 12 13 14 really interested in this kind of thing now. Have you noticed a resurgence almost?

Jon - I think there was like footnotes that have made EA Sports a little bit more mainstream. I'd say FIFA is having a similar effect as well it's getting more eyes onto a sports in general and then once people are watching things like Twitch for their favourite Fortnite players they're then being exposed to other games that are perhaps more competitive from an esports perspective. Worldwide the biggest prize pool in 2018 was twenty five and a half million dollars for a pro tournament. There were two tournaments that took place in the UK last year. That each had a million dollars prize pool, one for Counter-Strike one for Dota 2 in London and Birmingham. So yes that eSports is a career as a player as an option but there are loads of other career options as well that people don't necessarily realize from commentators, stage hosts backstage stuff even people who are interested in gaming but who perhaps want to pursue careers in finance and marketing all of those traditional jobs exist in eSports as well for people looking for careers.
 

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