How to Become an Esports Team Manager

Esports team managers have the interesting role of acting with both the team’s CEO on the business side and the coaches on the player side. They have a lot of important responsibilities and have to do a lot of work up and down the chain of command.

In this article, we will dive into how to become an esports team manager, what esports team managers do and how much an esports team manager makes.

How to Become an Esports Team Manager?

To become an esports team manager, you must:

  1. Determine If Managing is Right For You
  2. Apply to Manage a Grassroots Team or Create a New Team
  3. Build Experience Managing a Grassroots Team
  4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  5. Attend Networking Events and Reach Out to Esports Teams
  6. Create, Update or Modify Your Resume For Esports and Management
  7. Apply to Professional Esports Teams For an Entry-Level Position
  8. Work Hard to Climb the Ladder or Transition to Another Company as an Esports Manager

These are the steps for becoming a professional esports team manager.

In order to become an esports team manager, you must get experience as a manager for volunteer teams, network with established esports teams, apply for an entry-level job at an esports team and get promoted to management.

The two main caveats to the steps above is if your volunteer esports team starts to become profitable, you can simply stick with that esports team and start making money through your salary there.

Additionally, instead of getting promoted, you may be able to find another team hiring a manager and you can fit that role considering your previous experience as an esports team manager for a grassroots organization.

That said, for the last option I gave, you still need to apply to an entry-level esports team position. No team will actually give a job to a student who only has the grassroots-level experience and has never worked for a legit esports team before.

Getting an entry-level position will be key to jump into a management position assuming you don’t join a startup that scales up enough for you to work there.

1. Determine If Managing is Right For You

Firstly, you’ll need to determine if a management position is right for you. Below in this article, I talk about exactly what an esports team manager does and his responsibilities.

In short, an esports team manager has to act in the best interests of his assigned players, deal with contracts, scout and interview players, deal with sponsor relations, manage coaches and report to the CEO and/or team owner.

You are a leader and being led. You are dealing with players enough to have to be comfortable with them as the coach, but you are also doing a lot of the business-side work like the CEO.

The title is more so the management of the coaches and players while lining up opportunities on the business side that is more mundane.

You need to ask yourself is this really what you want to do? Would you prefer only specifically working with the players and being something such as a coach and improving their performance? Or maybe you want to focus primarily on business development as a business development manager or a CEO.

Managers have a lot of the heavy lifting to do and it care be tiring but also exciting. Determine if this is seriously the path you want to go down.

2. Apply to Manage a Grassroots Team or Create a New Team

Okay. So you know to become an esports manager is what you want to do. Now it’s time to make it happen.

Before you can actually get a job in esports, you need some form of experience. In the case of knowing our end goal is becoming a manager, you want to take on a grassroots management position.

That said, don’t expect to get anything other than an entry-level position upon getting your first job. Becoming a manager is a slow process, it will take a bit of time. But trust the process and grow your way there.

To become a grassroots manager, you either need to create your own esports team or join a pre-established one.

To create your own esports team, I recommend reading my article Step-by-Step Guide on How to Start an Esports Team, as it goes in-depth on the topic.

For how to get a grassroots job position, I recommend you read my guide 5 Things You NEED to Do to Get a Job in Esports, where a segment of it breaks down how to land yourself a grassroots position. Quick examples of doing that are by going to sites like hitmarker.com, eFuse or r/esportsjobs.

3. Build Experience Managing a Grassroots Team

Let’s assume you applied and landed your position. Now it’s time to actually manage the esports team. I recommend you read below the steps where I break down what an esports manager does and provide a few times, mindsets and books worth reading for any aspiring esports professionals.

To give a really quick overview, you will need to do hazard management, register for tournaments

4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

One key thing that I haven’t mentioned in the segment above but I do mention in my book So You Want a Job in Esports (coming out soon) is the need for you to really push yourself and get outside your comfort zone.

Click here to read my article The Importance of Taking Risks in Esports.

I’ll admit that getting the responsibilities of an esports manager will push you outside your comfort zone, at the start. But once you’ve done it for a few months and things become more routine, that’s where the learning stops and the entire point of joining a grassroots organization, outside the experience, is to learn.

When you reach that point, it’s either time to look for a more established or hectic grassroots esports team to manage or to diversify the type of work you are getting done at your current endeavor.

5. Attend Networking Events and Reach Out to Esports Teams

While you are building your experience, you will need to continuously and consistently build out your network in esports. You know how the saying goes, your network is your net worth.

You want to attend networking events, reach out to the esports team’s employees on LinkedIn and build genuine relationships. Doing so will allow you to actually build connections, ask questions and open doors to entry-level jobs even before you land yourself into esports.

Above is my LinkedIn if you ever wanted to connect 😉.

What this will also do is open doors for once you actually are working in esports, whenever an esports management position opens up, you’ll be the first to know and they’ll act as a recommendation.

This is why you want to make sure you keep in touch with these individuals to ensure you nurture these relationships and also let them know that you are an aspiring professional and desire to grow into an esports team management position.

People love feeling superior so by telling them you want to learn and staying professional, many people would be willing to help. The best way to scale this is by getting onto an introductory voice call with them and letting them know how much you appreciate all their help and support. From there, just send out an outreach message once a month or once every other month to maintain the relationship.

6. Create, Update or Modify Your Resume For Esports and Management

Now that you have everything in motion and hopefully have a good amount of experience, it’s time to clean up that resume. Your resume will be an important tool to communicate the experience you have outside of your resume and networking interactions.

This will also be the key, when you apply, to landing an interview if you don’t get any thought your networking endeavors. Therefore you want to ensure your resume is well done. You may want to consider paying and hiring a professional agency to write, create or update your resume for you.

These agencies know exactly what the industry is looking for and how to best tailor your resume to any opportunity. This could save you a significant amount of time writing and apply to jobs with a poorly written resume for the cost of about $100.

That said, especially for entry-level positions, there is no real massive need to hire because you can create your own resume. Just be sure to have it looked over by some of the people you networked within the prior step. This way, not only do you get advice from experienced professionals, but you are also actively providing them with a copy of your resume without shoving it down their throats.

7. Apply to Professional Esports Teams For an Entry-Level Position

Everything is in order and now it’s time to finally get a job in esports. To do that, unless you get an opportunity from networking, you’ll need to apply through traditional means.

The best method for getting a job without a doubt is through connections, so don’t forget to keep networking during this process, but you will also want to try to invest in the traditional method to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.

To find jobs, you can go to sites like hitmarker.com, eFuse, Indeed and other traditional job application places. By doing this, be sure to include a cover letter always! Cover letters will help you stand out, make sure they are fairly custom to each just position and incorporates the words mentioned on the job application site.

Hitmarker is a great place to start looking for jobs!

Rinse and repeat until you get an interview. Prepare for that interview and look to land your own job by nailing the interview.

I can’t give too many tips on an interview here but just look in my book (coming soon) or ask to practice with some of my friends or professors. If you actually built a strong personal relationship with someone you networked with, it’s worth asking them to go through the practice too, but don’t ask people with who you have a very formal professional relationship. Like feel it out and use common sense.

Keep doing this until you finally are good enough to nail an interview. Nail that interview and congrats on getting your first entry-level job in the world of esports.

8. Work Hard to Climb the Ladder or Transition to Another Company as an Esports Manager

The game isn’t done yet because becoming an esports manager isn’t an entry-level job. It’s just like any other management position, it requires pre-requisite experience on what the base employees do by being a base employee well enough to be able to manage.

During this time, you really want to work hard to hopefully climb the ladder. Show the organization you mean business, come 30 minutes early and leave 30 minutes late. Put in the extra work to impress your co-workers and more importantly the HR department and the CEO.

At the same time, you want to continuously improve your management skills to prepare yourself for that position. I linked to books in the section about what a manager does below, so be sure to check those help to help you during that process.

The idea here is to hopefully get promoted by doing what others don’t do when the opportunity arises.

At the same time, after working long enough (at least a year), you can actively start looking for a different job opportunity as a manager for a different organization. This is an even better and efficient way to move up assuming you are doing enough work to justify it.

The number of esports jobs is growing at an alarming rate as well. Between 2019 to 2020, the industry’s jobs almost doubled!

You may also want to do additional things outside of work the organization to get your name out such as more networking and perhaps using social media or a website as a portfolio. The more you can do to stand out and showcase yourself as a leader, the better.

Keep going and work hard enough to position yourself in a management job for an esports team.

What Does an Esports Team Manager Do?

Esports team managers must oversee each individual team, work on the business development side with the CEO, scout for new players, identify growing conflicts within the organization and communicating all information up the chain of command.

Here are all the responsibilities of an esports team manager:

  • Identifying and dealing with potential problems and hurdles
  • Watching out for player’s best interests
  • Sponsorship acquisition and sponsor relations
  • Managing player contracts
  • Player replacement, management and acquisition
  • Managing all staff below them on the chain of command
  • Communication up the chain of command

Below I will dive deeper into each of these responsibilities.

There are also smaller things such as registering for tournaments, booking out hotels and other small action items but those weren’t breaking down further.

Those things also barely take up any of the time of an esports manager, meanwhile a lot of the other tasks take a significantly large amount of time.

Identifying and Dealing With Potential Problems and Hurdles

If there is one statement to sum up the responsibilities of an esports manager, it would be that they must identify and deal with any possible cracks that will lead to problems down the road.

As you will see below, basically every responsibility is associated with hazard management. As the CEO is primarily focused on the business development of the organization and the coaches and players are primarily focused on the success within the tournaments, the general managers themselves (who I will occasionally refer to as GMs, short for general managers) need to deal with everything in between.

That has to do with identifying exactly what issues may come up within the organization. List to list a few examples of things they’ll be thinking about:

  • Are there certain passive-aggressive tones being used by players that could lead to a problem?
  • Are there any travel restrictions for the players to attend the tournament? How about hotels?
  • Are players executing on their sponsorship commitments? Are the metrics lining up with what we promised? Are we communicating enough with the sponsors to ensure we will be resigned after our term is completed?
  • Is there a chance I need to replace a player? If so, who do I have ready to close to swiftly switch out the players without causing many hurdles to the teams and sponsors?

These are just a few, and we will go into more detail with each subtitle below. Just know as an esports team manager, you aren’t only managing people but you are essentially managing the fabric that keeps the organization in one piece.

Watching Out For Player’s Best Interests

This is critical if you want to manage the fabric of the organization. Players must believe that you are looking out for their best interests. And for them to believe that, you have to seriously do that and show it to them. Otherwise, players will be less focused on getting better at the game as a team and will be more focused on defending their own back as individuals.

The players must know when it comes to sponsorship acquisition, negotiating contracts, defending your rights when it comes to tournament organizers and legislation, travel commitments, hotel commitments, signing up for events and anything else that may take away from their focus of actually playing the game at the highest level, the manager must have it covered.

Additionally, this provides the ability for the manager to deal with conflicts that brew since the players can relate and trust their judgement. Two great books that help with better understanding human behavioral science and dealing with social dynamics (including but not limited to work environments):

*Note, all hyperlinks above are Amazon affiliates that generate my company a bit of revenue per sale. Purchases using those links are very appreciated as it allows me to create more transparent content like this that you wouldn’t find other business professionals providing elsewhere!

Failing to do this will cause teams to break up frequently and will result in more-than-necessary business resources having to be allocated to replace those players.

Not to mention that when players have an issue, regardless of how personal, they have to be able to trust the manager enough to share it if it may impact the team’s performance for the sake of the team’s success.

That way, the manager can bring forth any consulting, personal time off work or any other services the play may need to be best successful.

In order to accomplish this, assuming this isn’t a small or college team, the coaches have a massive responsibility of properly communicating the conditions of the teams to the manager. The managers themselves should be checking in with the teams from time to time but there are too many teams for the manager to deal with.

A manager may focus more time on a struggling team, but it’s on the coach to properly communicate if their team is struggling and needs additional support.

In short, the 2nd most important characteristic and responsibility for an esports GM is to watch out for the player’s best interests.

Sponsorship Acquisition and Sponsor Relations

To learn more about acquiring sponsorships, click here.

A GM is responsible for managing sponsorship relations primarily in the organization. The GM is usually assisted by the CEO, hired sponsorship employees and sometimes their associated sponsorship agency, but it’s very much on the GM to manage current relationships as a key responsibility.

The GM may also indulge in acquiring new relationships, but it’s not a primary function of his position. The CEO, any hired sponsorship employees and any hired sponsorship agencies primarily focus on bringing in new sponsorships.

Since sponsorships and partnerships are the fundamental sources of revenue for all esports teams, sometimes taking upwards of 80% of an esports team’s revenue, it’s so important that this is done properly.

Again, many parties are involved in the job of managing these relationships, but it really falls on the laps of the GM to really watch from a ground-level what is happening, are we providing on promised deliverables and is there anything else we can do more.

The GM should always attend update calls during ongoing progress to be able to best provide ground-level metrics and bounce ideas with the employees of the sponsor.

Managing Player Contracts

For the remainder of responsibilities and tasks, these aren’t in any particular order. Although a player’s contract is written typically by a legal agency, the specific revenue-splits, required metrics and pricing evaluations are typically decided by the GM and signed off on by the CEO.

This is because, as we will talk about below, the GM is also doing a bit of scouting along with his scouts, coaches and talent managers, therefore there are a lot of situations where the GM will need to provide input, if not actually decide, the salaries for players based on their metrics and modify any of the contract’s quantities where applicable.

They would also be involved if any terms of the contract are disliked by the player and the player’s player agency to either be modified or removed (or to decide to not sign the player if that request is unreasonable).

Player Replacement, Management and Acquisition

In high-stress environments such as esports, players are prone to burnout, dropping in skills, giving up and becoming toxic to the point where they are harming the team. Those players need to be managed and occasionally replaced.

Hell, to form a team at all, someone has to find those players and put those teams together.

Yes, you have employees such as scouts, coaches, analysts and talent managers (along with talent agencies) that will deal with those responsibilities, but they all report the GM who may also be involved in accomplishing those tasks.

More so, however, the GM has a lot of the power and responsibility of deciding what to do with players during problematic situations. For example, if a player is burnt out, he can decide if it makes sense from a business standpoint to provide that player with paid leave, pay for some health and wellness professionals, pay for counselling or to drop the player altogether.

The same goes for when a player’s metrics drop below a certain threshold as agreed upon in the contract or as an unsaid expectation by the organization. It comes down to the GM to identify when action needs to take place, this is where identifying cracks come into play and taking the responding required actions ASAP. It could be better tools to improve the qualify of the stream, ensuring players are consistent or dropping the player as a result of their metrics.

The same can be said for content creators for the obvious reason that a content creator’s metrics are the entirety of their value.

One key thing I didn’t mention thus far is toxicity, being a massive problem within the esports industry, especially at the higher levels. Toxic players will want to make the non-toxic players become toxic and make everyone overall communicate less, play worst and not desire to play at all.

It’s a coach’s responsibility to identify and try to rectify that, but if he struggles, this must be dealt with by the GM.

Managing All Staff Below Them on The Chain of Command

A manager must manage, surprise surprise. But in all seriousness, a manager must manage all those below him on the chain of command and communicate all worth communicating up the chain of command.

These include the following:

  • Esports coaches
  • Sponsorship acquisition staff
  • Business development (that report to the GM)
  • Esports team analysts
  • Health and wellness staff
  • Players
  • All third parties and agencies (that don’t report to the CEO)

As a GM, you must ensure everyone is doing their job and doing it well. For example, if the coach isn’t putting in complete effort and is getting into conflicts with the players or making mistakes, the GM needs to identify that as soon as possible.

The same goes for players. If a GM notices that certain or all players aren’t putting 120% effort into their gameplay, a GM needs to get to the bottom of it and resolve it quickly. Is it because the players are over fatigued? Is it a mindset issue with scrims not being taken seriously? Is there a conflict brewing? Are these players becoming less skilled and therefore reducing our contract evaluations?

Communication Up the Chain of Command

Likewise, the GM is also communicating up the chain of command to the CEO. The CEO is busy acquiring new deals, building projects, looking at expansion and the sort.

When an organization starts off, the CEO is very involved on the ground level. But as systems come into place, the CEO must divert his focus to developing the business further with new opportunities. That said, if the business is crumbling before his feet, there is no opportunity to grow.

That is why the CEO must trust their GM and the GM must report when issues are rising up. Even if the issues were caused somewhat or entirely by the GM, there needs to be a level of trust of strong communication (the same way the coach needs to communicate with the GM about player-related issues) for the organization to be afloat and for the CEO to focus on his responsibilities.

How Much is an Esports Team Manager Salary?

Esports team managers’ salary ranges between $40,000 annually to upwards of $230,000 annually based on the scale of the esports team they work for. If an organization has a greater net worth, the GM will proportionally make more money.

These numbers were pulled from my best understanding of the industry and the differences between even lower-end professional esports teams and larger ones.

These numbers aren’t from a study or a trusted source, more so from what I was best able to put together from my experiences and conversations in esports.

I saw statistics on talent.com stating “Entry level positions start at $67,879 per year while most experienced workers make up to $135,000 per year” but I know people who are making less than their entry point and I’m almost positive in this economy, we have people making more than the peak listed here.

Therefore although the talent.com range may be more accurate to the average, neither the baseline nor the ceiling they mentioned is true.