Some people fill their lives with their job -- their career is what they live and die for. And then there’s people like Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk who ideally cram three full-time jobs in a day. Because aside from being the CEO of Tempo Storm, he streams, competes, and, oh yeah, he’s also designing his own game. The person scheduling such a crammed agenda should be anything but envied -- then again, he probably does that himself too.
We sat down with the entrepreneur for a look behind Tempo Storm and the man himself. Reynad opened up about the dreams he had for Tempo Storm, what the biggest hurdles were in the past - and are now -- to achieve those dreams, and the life lessons he has learned in the ever-changing landscape of modern-day media.
This is part two of our two-part interview with Reynad. Part one focused on the founding of Tempo Storm and the organization's future, as well as Reynad's thoughts on the business of esports.
Starting out as a Twitch streamer, you've also learned a lot on a personal level over the years, I imagine. What's the main lesson that stuck with you as you went from a streamer to the CEO of an esports team?
I've learned a lot of lessons, but I think one of the most important ones is that people should focus on being the best in the world at one thing. It doesn't matter how niche that thing is. It could be completely random, like playing children's card games. As long as you're number one in something, life figures itself out very quickly. Then you become the go-to person for that thing.
No matter how niche it is, there is a market for everything. Becoming number one is the hard part. Once you know how to become number one in one thing, or with one skill, you can apply the same learning process and you can become number one in a bunch of other different skills too.
What are you number one at?
Well, first it was children's card games, and then after that I set the goal of becoming number one in business. I'm not there yet, I'm still learning, but I've gotten a lot better. I've kind of stopped taking my own advice actually, and I've started to diversify more.
After I became successful enough to not need to worry much about paying for food and rent, I had the luxury to experiment with different things. For me, number one was definitely card games. That was it. After that, I started learning other skills. Then I diversified, for better or worse. So now it's running an esports company, game-design, production... things like that are the skills that I've been working on the past few years.
“I never really cared for saying things that win people over or that have good optics online.
I just spoke without a filter for a long time.”
Is there anything you miss about the streamer life?
It's honestly a lot more simple. There's a clear-cut schedule, you know what success looks like, you know what you should and shouldn't do, there's a regular cadence... It's very comfortable, because it's not too high-stress compared to doing a bunch of different things. Having employees brings a lot of stress and accountability, so compared to what I'm doing now, streaming was a lot more stress-free.
But if I didn't like what I was doing, I'd just do something different. I can always go back to the streaming thing and rebuild that. I can stop streaming and focus entirely on building the company, but I quite like the middle ground right now. It gives me a good perspective on the industry and how things work. I value that perspective. It's fun too, right? I do enough different things that it's hard to get bored.
Has that accountability changed a lot about how you present yourself? When you're a streamer, you just represent your own brand and you can fill it in however you want, after all.
It has definitely changed a lot. There are a lot of things I used to do in the early years that I've stopped doing completely. I used to talk about a lot of unprofessional stuff, which I don't do as often anymore. Like anything political.
It's always been my weak point. I never really cared for saying things that win people over or that have good optics online. I just spoke without a filter for a long time. So I had to dial that back a lot. I say fewer things that are inflammatory, I try to burn fewer bridges, things like that.
Sometimes it's even little, detailed things. I won't post videos on social media of me going out drinking, because there's a lot of people at the company, and I don't want my employees to see me partying if they're waiting on a document from me or something. Little things like that.
For the most part I'm pretty unfiltered though. As soon as I stream, those old habits kick back in, the muscle memory is there. I swear a little more when I'm streaming, I'll be open and transparent with chat, but certain topics I just won't talk about. Girls, anything like that--I don't bring that up.
“People will have their opinions and then they'll just look for
information that confirms the opinions they already have.”
I guess that's what a lot of people liked your stream for: the unfiltered comments. And the salt, of course. That does sometimes lead to confrontation though, as we saw recently with the Artifact subreddit.
Yeah, I don't even know why. That's a great example of the value of knowing how PR works. That's a weak point of mine. About two months before the beta came out, I was the first person to say something critical about the game. Every other card game streamer said it's the best they'd ever played, it's the best game ever made and it was going to be huge.
I was the first one who said "I actually don't have fun playing this game, here is what I think is wrong about it." So the subreddit basically clipped those thirty seconds, and then there were a bunch of comments flaming me over it. Because, when somebody says something that you don't like to hear, you just attack the person. That's how children work.
Anyway, I kind of doubled-down on it and brought it up again. Eventually I just decided that I'd do a set review video, and discuss my thoughts comprehensively. So basically because I said something critical of the game two times, and both times got clipped, on Reddit people assume that I must be shittalking Artifact 24/7. Because those are the only two clips they've seen of me.
I don't have anything to apologize for, I gave my honest opinion of the game when a viewer asked me what I think about Artifact. Then everybody started saying I'm bad at the game, and that must be why I don't like it. They spring up a bunch of bullshit arguments about why my opinion doesn't matter.
Eventually the game comes out, and one week later the entire subreddit is shitting on the game too. The game wasn't that popular, the playerbase started plummeting, and now it's the cool thing to do to shittalk it. It's like... I don't know. It's very frustrating for me to give an honest opinion about something and then get attacked for that honest opinion.
“Once it becomes the cool thing to shittalk a game or a person, you can't
just tip the scales back. The trick is controlling it before it gets to that point.”
Do you see a way for that situation to change?
There is no right answer. Once the scales have tipped, at that point it's unsalvageable. You can't fix it. It's just how the human brain works. People will have their opinions and then they'll just look for information that confirms the opinions they already have. It's not like people will listen to something and have their opinion change. People's opinion almost never changes, especially when you talk about a herd of people like on reddit.
There's no way I can change their opinion of me, at that point. It's a very reddit-specific problem. That's become the default place where game discussions happen now. Fallout 76 is another good example. Once it becomes the cool thing to shittalk a game or a person, you can't just tip the scales back. The trick is controlling it before it gets to that point. Once it's out of your control, it's gone.
As a streamer, the tough thing is that people only see you on reddit when they see your clips. Reddit's opinion of you as a streamer is determined by the clips that get uploaded. Your regular viewers, those who watch every day, will have their own opinion. But if you only see two clips, and it's of someone being salty or whatever, you're not going to like that person. It's the only information you have to go off of.
I understand why it happened, it's just very frustrating. I decided to play in a tournament afterwards, and the second my match started people were saying "why is he invited, he hates the game" -- I never said I hate the game. It was not a big deal at the end of the day. I made a couple of videos, and I like the final review I did about Artifact.
That situation is just a problem that's indicative of something bigger than Artifact or subreddit stuff. The fact that reddit is where people discuss things in the gaming industry now has a lot of drawbacks. There's this hurt mentality that's just really dangerous. I think that the bigger reddit gets, the worse the discussion becomes.
It's a repeat question from another topic we discussed earlier, but do you see that fixing itself over time? The worsening of games discussions on reddit.
Yeah, I think everything in life is kind of cyclical. Eventually reddit becomes so big that people don't like the way the discussion is being held. Maybe they start a new subreddit that's smaller. But maybe a new website takes over, and people start discussing things on something that's not reddit. Before reddit we had a bunch of different websites that did what reddit does.
I think reddit is here to stay for a long time though. A very long time. Maybe ten years from now it'll change. Maybe there's some form of VR chat room that people search for news on then, who knows?
Header image by Red Bull Esports.
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