As the popularity of esports grows each day, more people are getting interested in having a career in esports. However, it can be very difficult to actually find a job in esports, because many get lost in where they need to start and how they need to prepare. The need for people with various talents increases as the industry continues to grow, but it’s really hard to actually hear how to get into the industry.
For those planning to have a future career in esports, we at Inven prepared a series of interviews with people in the scene, essentially showcasing the various jobs in esports. From how they found their jobs, what they needed to prepare to get these jobs to details about their jobs, we had a chance to hear their stories of their past and the present. We hope that this series of interviews will help those that are looking for a potential career in esports.
The first person we interviewed for our series works in the management side of the LCK team. The management is exclusively involved with the pro players’ schedules, as they’re in charge of managing their schedules, their health, external communication, and help create events for fan interaction. Meet Kim Ga-hyeon, the manager for Kwangdong Freecs.
Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Kim Ga-hyeon, and I work with the Kwangdong Freecs management. I’m in charge of the KDF League of Legends, Kart Rider, and the Wild Rift team. My responsibilities include managing the teams, the social media, youtube & stream content, and online & offline operations.
Can you tell us how you started working in esports?
I have loved gaming ever since I was in high school. However, esports wasn’t as big as it is now back then, so I didn’t think too much about wanting to work in the game industry. Once I got to college, however, I joined the Esports College Club Association [ECCA] and experienced planning and operating leagues. I had a lot of fun back then, and that’s when I first got the idea of working in esports.
However, even at the time, the esports industry was still very young, and people around me hadn't really found careers in the esports industry, so I didn’t know what to do at first. I remember myself researching for information, interning at AfreecaTV and Riot Games, and getting advice from the industry insiders.
After graduating from college, I briefly lived overseas. I was told by someone I know that I’d fit in well with the front office of an organization, so I applied, and have been working since.
At first, my parents were very against it because they thought there was no money from gaming. However, my internship changed their perspective, to the point where they watch every single Kwangdong Freecs match in the LCK. After each match, they contact me and are like, “We saw your team winning today! Who was the MVP?”
Can you give us a detailed explanation of what the front office of Kwangdong Freecs does?
Because there’s such a wide variety of things that the front office does, it’s hard to pinpoint something and say, “This is what the management does.” The best way to describe it would be that if it’s player-related work, then it gets vetted through the front office. It can be anything from helping set up schedules in accordance to the players’ daily routines to operating on/offline fan meets.
We also plan, film, and edit video content for KDF’s Youtube, and plan out fan events via our social media. During the off-season, we help deliver what the players are up to through our sponsors and collaborations to our fans.
I’m curious to know how the front office operates on a normal work day. Can you share what your daily schedule is like?
Our work hours are normally from 10 am to 6pm, but depending on the teams’ schedules, we adjust our work hours accordingly. Matches are usually in the evenings, and on the weekends as well, so we tend to work then as well. Even when there’s no matches, the players stay up until pretty late practicing, so we need to be on standby during those times as well.
When would you say you feel the most satisfied in your work?
I personally find satisfaction when all the hard work that our players put in pays off through results. It’s also very satisfying to watch the players practice really hard, give feedback to each other for more than 12 hours a day. Watching their passion really does fuel me up.
I also feel very satisfied when our planned social media posts have a lot of likes from the fans. In esports, I believe that fan interaction is critical. We try to listen to all sorts of opinions from our fans, and apply as much of their opinions as possible in our direction. Offline fan meets are hard because of COVID, so right now, I try to showcase the natural side of our players as much as possible to the fans.
In contrast, when does the job feel the toughest?
It’s really hard on your physical health to work a lot of late hours and weekends. That’s why I started to exercise so that I can keep up with the schedule. It’s also mentally taxing when the players are on a losing streak or are low in the standings.
How should one prepare themselves to find a career in this industry? Is there anything specific they should prepare in their portfolios?
As the industry’s grown a lot bigger than before and the LCK’s become a lot more known to the public, I do believe that there are a lot more opportunities right now. You can literally just search ‘esports’ in job search sites and you’ll find a wide variety of jobs in esports.
If you’re good at listening to what the players' needs are and are just good at communicating with them, you’d fit in well with the management. It’s also important to show confidence during your interviews. My interview with the management at the time was an online one because I was overseas. Maybe I wasn’t nervous because it wasn’t face to face, so I smiled a lot and felt very comfortable. They told me that they liked that side of me.
If you can edit videos and know how to photoshop, they’re big bonus points. Of course, if you know how to speak more than one language, then that’s a huge bonus as well, because a lot of teams upload their social posts and videos in other languages as well. If you can showcase all your experiences, whether in gaming or even in things like marketing, in your portfolio very well, they’ll definitely help in your journey to finding a job in esports!
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports