Celebrating Women in Esports Part 2: Climbing the Ladder

This is Part Two of an annual series on women in the esports industry (read Part One here). 

March 8 is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, The Esports Observer highlights some of the talented women working and serving in prominent leadership roles within the esports industry.

Esports offers a career path for a wide variety of interests and as we have found, many women are rising to the top. For our 2021 Women’s Day edition, we are highlighting both high-level executives and those who are still climbing that ladder.

This year’s diverse group of movers and shakers come from the worlds of tournament organizers, teams, advocacy groups, and more—each with a unique perspective on the industry. 

In this edition, we asked newcomers in the esports industry (those with experience of two years or less) to share their origin stories and responsibilities.

Meet our panel of promising esports leaders, presented here in no particular order:

Amanda Fan is the talent coordinator for 100 Thieves. In high school, her friends introduced her to the gaming community and world of esports. She “instantly knew” she wanted to pursue it as a career.

“At university, I, alongside some of my classmates, started a League of Legends and esports club which really helped me learn more about what areas of esports and gaming I’m interested in,” recalls Fan. “During those times, I also received a lot of support and guidance from my esports industry mentors and landed my first internship at Counter Logic Gaming.”

Following her time at CLG, Fan began working part-time at Riot Games as an Observer for the LCS and select international tournaments. She gained hands-on experience at Offline TV as a project manager, particularly with content creators. Fan graduated university in 2020 and joined 100 Thieves as talent coordinator.

Fan says that her role involves a lot of teamwork with other departments in order to keep track of and help fulfill content and sponsorship duties from the content creator side.

“As a talent coordinator, I manage and, well, coordinate 100 Thieves content creators on a day-to-day basis,” she explains. “Some of the creators I work with include CouRage, Valkyrae, and BrookeAB who are based in Los Angeles, plus a few other remote creators.”

Dignitas Content Creator Elyse “Herculyse” Herrera first became interested in esports in late 2018 when a friend introduced her to the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS). They both played the game and watched the North American qualifiers. When Herrera found that out that RLCS would be hosted in Las Vegas over the weekend of her 21st birthday, she decided to see it in person.

“I went to the event and was extremely lucky,” Herrera recalls. “I had rare experiences where I met so many creators, professional players, and people who had connections to one another. I fell in love with the community and wanted to do anything I could to become a part of it and possibly make a name for myself in esports.”

Herrera joined TikTok in December of 2019. She prides herself on normalizing the practice of sharing Rocket League content beyond stream clips. 

Her creativity paid off—Hererra, playing under the name “Herculyse,” became one of the fastest-growing gaming content creators at the time on the app. In the Summer of 2020, a number of esports organizations reached out and asked her to become a full-time content creator. She ultimately joined Dignitas, officially marking her entry into esports.

As a content creator, Herrera says she is always brainstorming innovative ways to engage her esports audience. This includes streaming twice per day to reach both North American and European audiences and posting between 1-3 times per day on TikTok. She has over 43,000 followers on Twitch.

“My ultimate goal is to start the next viral trend in gaming on TikTok and transition that audience to other platforms, while also guiding my audience to engage with the DIgnitas brand,” said Herrera. “It’s my responsibility to remain motivated, consistent, and always on top of the latest trends in gaming or identify trends from pop culture to transition to gaming. It’s important that I’m always surpassing even my own expectations. Unlike being a professional player, as a content creator, you’re on your own to learn and figure things out. It’s up to you to decide how successful you’ll be.”

Olivia Schaller, marketing communications coordinator at Nerd Street Gamers, got her start in traditional sports as an intern with the Philadelphia Eagles. There, she gained experience in public relations and social media departments while learning about how a professional team functions.

It was there that she learned about Nerd Street Gamers and the overlap between traditional sports and their video game counterparts.

“As an avid fan of sports-based video games like Madden and MLB The Show, this field has sparked my interest as esports continues to rise in popularity,” notes Schaller, who ultimately joined Nerd Street in the marketing department.

“While I may not be a hardcore gamer, I understand the strategy and techniques needed for a company like ours to be successful in marketing, public relations, and social media,” Schaller says. “Our department has perfected the mix of competitive gamers and casual gamers which results in a well-rounded mission of bringing access to all gamers.”

In her role as Marketing Communications Coordinator, Schaller is responsible for public relations, social media, and general marketing duties. Her duties include drafting press releases, organizing interview opportunities, and tracking media placements for all members of the Nerd Street staff.

She is also in charge of creating content for the Instagram and TikTok accounts and help with general marketing efforts like email campaigns and setting up advertisements. It sounds like a lot of work, but Schaller enjoys it.

“All of these responsibilities allow me to help provide more opportunities for gamers everywhere,” she says.

Chloe Ten Brink is the social media coordinator for Rogue at ReKTGlobal but she wasn’t always public about her love for video games.

“Growing up, my brother had a strong love of video games, and I wanted to be just like him since my family moved every three years,” recalls Brink. “After hiding my love for video games throughout schooling, I made it to college and concluded that nothing else made me as happy at video games did—and that led me to esports!”

Brink joined a collegiate gaming club at Ohio State University in her junior year and soon became an executive board member. This, she says, gave her the courage to apply for an internship at Rogue.

“I’ve been with ReKTGlobal for just over two years now and have loved every moment,” says Brink, explaining that her duties involve much of what you’d expect from a social media coordinator.

In addition to creating posts for all of Rogue’s social channels, Brink is responsible for keeping up to date with current teams, team schedules, and upcoming company news.

“Aside from that, I’m also in charge of managing community DMs, creating statistic reports to measure how we’re performing, working on meaningful ways to engage our fans, and ideating content series to better promote our teams,” she said.

Annie Yeung, product designer at Insights.gg, started playing games at a young age and had a special affinity for Counter-Strike.

“My brothers would take me to an internet cafe 40 minutes from our home just to game all day because they had a special rate on Sundays,” Yeung recalls.

Despite her early love of gaming, Yeung didn’t think that esports jobs would be available in Vancouver. That is until she completed a UX Design program at Red Academy and was offered two jobs. 

One offer was from a well-established company with large teams, a corporate structure, benefits, etc, and the other was from Insights.gg, a brand new startup.

“I was more intrigued by the start-up, as they had an idea for something that wasn’t on the market yet in a field that I always had an interest in—gaming,” said Yeung. “When Insights.gg shared their idea with me, I was excited to be part of a team [that is] building something revolutionary for the gaming industry.”

As Product Designer, Yeung is in charge of all designs across the Insights brand including Insights.gg, Insights Pro, and their newly launched Windows app, Insights Capture. This includes user and market research, planning, designing, prototype testing, and creating use cases for new products.

“Since our official launch, I’ve been focusing on improving the user experience on our platform, especially for those who are new to Insights by creating an onboarding experience aimed to educate and excite,” says Yeung. “Thanks to all the user feedback we’ve received, Insights.gg has expanded far beyond the scope our team had envisioned for it. I am very proud to be part of a team that continues to innovate at the forefront of collaborative review tools.”

Hayley Fahey, associate communication director at The Story Mob, admits that she didn’t know what esports was until 2017, but quickly found a link between two things she’s known her whole life—sports and video games. 

“My dad immigrated to the US and grew a new life here through his career as a soccer player,” says Fahey. “He naturally passed down that love—and lessons in dedication, precision, and teamwork—through coaching my little league games.”

Fahey recalls the day that her father brought home a new Nintendo 64. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was the first game she finally pushed herself to beat on her own, and she “fell in love” with the process.

“My first esports love was—and still is—League of Legends,” Fahey says, recalling the first time she watched an LCS game in 2017 with her boyfriend, who worked on League. “I didn’t know what to make of the spontaneous bright lights or the million tiny numbers and icons, or what I was supposed to be looking at. But I was curious to learn how it worked and about the stories of the people behind it: the fans in the stands, the players on the stage, and the casters on the desk.”

Fahey researched the esports scene, watched classic matches, learned about competitive CS:GO, and even saw her first Games Done Quick. She joined The Story Mob in October 2019, where she helps their clients navigate those “big and small public moments” from launching a new brand to signing a new player or streamer, to running a press room.

“I’m lucky and grateful that I was able to grow from an esports fan who happened to work at a corporate communications agency (specializing in crisis and financial communications), into an esports PR professional using my background to help grow this weird and wonderful industry,” adds Fahey. 

“The majority of my career at The Story Mob has been during the pandemic, and remote. Like everyone in our industry, I can’t wait for live events to become a thing again. But at the same time, this past year has made me proud to be part of this industry and help create some sense of normalcy and connection (even in just a small way).” 

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