With the Esports scene growing everyday, The Story Mob, an Esports communication consultant agency, is helping the Esports space expand even further.
Alongside Nicola Piggott (former Riot Games’ Global Communication Leader for 5 years), Kalie Moore (former BITKRAFT Esports Ventures’ Communication Leader), and Anna Rozwandowicz (former ESL’s Communication VP), these three talented and experienced Esports communication experts have founded The Story Mob. One of the first and unique international consultancies of its kind.
While many fans, brands, and teams are jumping into this booming industry, a majority of people have no idea how to effectively immerse themselves into Esports. An agency like The Story Mob helps people understand how Esports operates and how to better guide them in outlets such as media and presentation. Already working with noticeable brands and teams such as Team Liquid, The Story Mob is upgrading Esports into a level that is equivalent to or even better than traditional sports.
As an online news publication covering the wide spectrum of Esports, Inven Global could not miss the opportunity to interview one of the members of the mob to gain in depth insight in the Esports industry. Sitting down in a classy cafe in Santa Monica, we got to have a quick chat with one of the founders of The Story Mob and former Riot Games employee, Nicola Piggott.
Let’s hear what Nicola has to say about the development of Esports, where Esports is headed, and the origins/future of The Story Mob.
¤ How did you start your line of work in the Esports industry?
I joined Riot Games in 2012. At that time, Riot Games had just begun investing heavily into Esports. I started in internal communications for Riot and then I moved to head up the communications team of their Esports group. The communication team, at the time, was fairly small but has obviously grown a lot since then. Esports for me was immediately exciting. I am personally a fan of competitive sports. It really clicked for me. I liked telling stories about athletes and about heroes. Therefore being in Esports communications, it was a big thing for me. Back then and even now, there are not a lot of people working in Esports communications. I really felt like I could help it improve and grow. Myself, I had a background in communications. I worked for Hilton, Disney, etc. I hope that I had brought a little expertise into the Esports industry.
¤ When you started working for the Esports industry with Riot, did you know then that this was going to be the next best thing?
I can’t talk on behalf of Riot, just a general note. However, I can talk on behalf of myself. I think the reason why Riot went deeply into Esports was because of the immediate fan reaction. I believe in 2011 in the first World Championships, there were an amazing amount of people watching and asking for more. The fans were all really excited watching competitive gaming.
Obviously, Riot Games was not the first company working in Esports, but it was my first entry. When I started, I could already tell Esports had potential. The funny thing is, we were only scratching the surface. In only 2 years working with Riot, we were doing a show for 40 thousand people in Sangang. I knew how much potential it had, but I never knew how quick the growth would be. If you ask anyone who was working at Esports at that time, they would all say that it was really exciting. To see the growth from medium size to gigantic was amazing. Overall, I knew what potential Esports had. However, I had no idea how quickly it would get to where it is now.
¤ Since you have introduced yourself and your thoughts on the Esports industry, tell us a little about your agency, The Story Mob.
Yeah, sure. The Story Mob is a communication consultancy that is purely focused on Esports. We believe we are the only agency out there that are doing this. We called ourselves ‘The Story Mob’ simply because we like to tell stories. The mob part is just us feeling like we are hired guns coming into to solve problems for people that hire us. Hopefully not by killing anybody (laughs).
What we do is, we offer consultancy to brands, teams, and organizers in the Esports space. A lot of the times, this means we are offering our help to deliver a strategy. In essence, what kind of stories they want to be telling or what kind of brand they want to be. A lot of the times since Esports is moving so quickly, people launch themselves in the market without fully thinking what their story for their brand is. The Story Mob can help retroactively work on that. Help them figure out how they want to talk to their fans. What kind of language or channels they want to use. Also as a group, all 3 of us work with the media. We all have a background in media communications. We can help work with media in the Esports space and mainstream media. The Story Mob also offers to train players or spokespeople for the media.
Every client is a little bit different. Right now, we are working with a couple of pro teams. We met you guys right around the corner of Team Liquid. The Story Mob is working with Team Liquid on the sort of things I have just explained. We are working with brands and VCs such as BITKRAFT, which is one of our funders at the moment. Thanks to Anna, ESL is also working with us.
We are aiming to get as close as we can to an inhouse communications probe. Although we can’t work as close as we do for everybody nor be the right fit for everybody, we are hoping to be as close as we can. Normally communication agencies are very hands off. However since we are so small and very selective on who we take on, we want to really embed with the people we work with in order to give as much insight as we can offer.
¤ You have brought up the Esports industry alongside Riot. What made you leave Riot to start your own story, your own agency?
I have 2 partners. First is Anna, who used to head up the communications at ESL. I met Anna maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Back then, Riot and ESL used to work really closely. Anna and I used to share stories with one another. Since there weren’t many people in this industry back then, it was refreshing to talk to someone. The more we talked, the more we realized the potential for Esports communications. This potential and expectations were beyond what we were doing currently at that time. Anna and I both saw a collaboration in the future. This year just felt like the right time.
For Riot this year, we just finished a couple of big projects such as the NA LCS permanent partnership. It was a huge learning experience for me, and a significant project. Since there are a lot of people coming in who don’t know much about the Esports space, it felt like a good opportunity to help them. They needed communication help, and it felt like the right time to launch our own project. It is super scary but at the same time it felt incredibly good.
Our Second partner, Kalie, we met her last year. She headed up communications for BITKRAFT which is a VC firm that focuses on Esports. When we met her, the chemistry just felt right. Kalie is very knowledgeable in investment and funding for Esports. So, the three of our skill sets had fit well together. In general, everything felt right to launch The Story Mob this year.
¤ Unfortunately as you may know, the Esports industry is mainly populated by males. However, The Story Mob has 3 female representatives. How did you decide on having 3 female representatives? Was there anything you wanted to represent?
Obviously, we didn’t choose each other as partners because we are girls. However, I am extremely humbled that everyone is seeing this as a positive step. I would like to be a good role model for people who want to get into Esports because there isn’t a traditional path. This is due to the Esports industry being mainly male dominated. Since we have launched the agency, we have actually gotten a lot of female applicants. People who just graduated or have a lot of experience in communications but have not yet been able to find a way in.
In terms of us being females in the Esports industry, I hope it is because of our expertise that we are a success. But, I like it how we are inspiring people. I think that is great. As Esports grows, I would like there to be more opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds. I believe it will be. I am very hopeful. Esports is a very young industry. People tend to forget that. I am personally really inspired by people who work in Esports. I am glad I am one of them.
¤ There are a lot of female Esports fans, especially in Asia. Some of these female fans tend to want to be involved in Esports more heavily. May it be as a reporter or in communications such as yourself. Is there anything you want to say to guide their path into Esports and inspire them?
I think the best job opportunities in life come from a place with passion. The reason why I am so excited about this part in my life is not because of the big market opportunity or cause I feel like I am going to make a lot of money. It is because, I get to enjoy working on something I am passionate about every day. I now have an opportunity to work with diverse groups and brands. It all comes down to my core factor of loving competitive gaming. If you are looking for ways to get into Esports, one of the things I recommend is to seek out opportunities rather than waiting for them to come to you. I have a lot of people asking me right now and when I was at Riot about the perfect job opening and how to break into Esports. But, you actually make your own opportunities. I was extremely lucky at Riot because we were encouraged to follow through on things that we were passionate about. When I first established a communications group for Esports at Riot with others, I only did it because I thought it was important.
I encourage everyone to just get involved. There is a lot of money coming into the space. There are opportunities to get involved with social media or journalism. Journalism, in particularly, is an area when you see a lot of sites shutting down at the moment, and I find that very sad. I would like to see more outlets that are dedicating their resources into covering Esports. The way that they are going to do that is through good writers. If you are passionate at writing, you should start interviewing players if you can. Start reviewing matches and send in your stuff to people that might find it interesting. Eventually, someone will take a chance on you if you’re good enough. Afterwards, you can build everything from there. When it comes to female writers in particular, I think there is every opportunity for them to have a great voice. I would like to believe that some of the best analytical writers in League are sometimes women. I would really recommend anyone who wants to write to just write. Set up a blog and ask people who you admire if they need a writer. Offer yourself to social media or to a team that is new.
When we interviewed people for our agency and our Riot, we look for passion almost as much as we look for experience. Especially for entry level roles. You can’t fake it. We interview a lot of PR professionals who want to get into Esports because they see it as a lucrative area. However, they will ultimately never think like a player. This is because, they are simply not fans. If you are already a fan of Esports, you are already halfway there.
Sorry if I am being very obvious here (laughs). But if you want to work in Esports, you need to like Esports. If you want to write, you need to write a lot to get better. You need a good editor, so you need a couple of rejections to understand why.
¤ Since you have a lot of experiences in covering stories in the Esports scene, which story was one of your favorites?
I’m not too sure if this is a story. It is more of an anecdote. When I first met Faker in 2013, he was so shy. He couldn’t look me in the eye. We would put Faker in media rooms for interviews, and I would feel terrible. This is because at that time, he was so shy and young. When I worked with him for the next few years, the change in him was so inspiring to watch. It was so incredible. Faker is so poised and confident now. He is literally doing barrel rolls in front of me on stage. Faker is talking to thousands of media right now with such ease. Even physically, he looks different. Faker holds himself in a completely different way. This has 100% to do with his talent and personal development. When I think of how the community has inspired him to change like that, I feel so proud and happy I got to experience it. I realize it sounds very sappy. Seeing his development every year was purely amazing.
With Riot, there were so many instances when it took my breath away. Walking into Sangang the first time for technical rehearsal and feeling the energy there, it was ecstatic. Some of my favorite moments were of those early days. However, I am so much happier where we are now. Our communications are better, we work with the media better, we train players better, and we look after their needs better. I am excited for myself and Riot that we are improving.
¤ Lastly, is there anything you want to add on?
I want to say that I never saw myself being an entrepreneur. I thought that I would work for big companies all my life. I always hoped that I would enjoy the work that I did, but I knew I was probably be working for somebody else. Had it not been for Esports, I don’t think I would have been able to own my own company now. I believe Esports allows people to think creatively. There is so much possibility in this space. It really is intoxicating. It has certainly made me and my partners to think on where we could add value.
To be honest, owning your own business is terrifying (laughs). I am nervous everyday that things will not go well or will go too well, and I won’t have enough people. I am still very nervous but at the same time I am excited that I am doing my own thing. Like I said, I don’t think I would do anything like this outside of Esports.
For anybody who is interested in starting their own thing, I would like to believe I am a good example of someone who was scared but did it anyway. Esports is such a rich place to experiment and try something new. I would encourage everyone to give it a go. I would also encourage anyone who is interested in Esports to think about how us as a whole could do better. To think about what we could really do that would make Esports equivalent or even better than traditional sports. Since traditional sports have been doing this for hundreds of years, I am going to spend my entire career trying to figure it out. Trying to help teams and brands get there. It is really the fans that are telling us where we are going right and where we are going wrong. The fans were never shy to tell us when we were going wrong at Riot, so I expect the same now. I would love to get better and better and better. But yeah, please give us plenty of feedback and go out there and start a business. If you want (laughs).
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