Esports Career Interviews - Operations with Brayden Wilmoth
To hear about the ins and outs of management in esports, we spoke to the former General Manager of Method, Brayden Wilmoth. We covered how Brayden became involved in esports management, and what tips he had for people looking to work in the sector.
As part of our interview series where we sit down with established esports professionals and hear about their career path as well as advice they have for job-hunters, we spoke with Brayden Wilmoth. Formerly the General Manager for Method, an elite esports organization, Brayden had some great points to make working in operations and improving your skills in management.
To get a sense of what kind of a role Brayden had in esports, we had to start with what some of his day-to-day responsibilities included.
“My day-to-day responsibilities typically included three primary areas. The first being working with the owners and management to plan the future of the brand in a variety of aspects, including what games to enter, which promotional opportunities match our goals, and what offerings as a brand we should make available to our fans.”
“The second was working with the team managers to make sure the health of our teams were good, and raise any early flags and problems that may have arisen.”
“And the third was to communicate directly with our players and influencers as they were essentially the brand ambassadors for us. So they’re incredibly important for the brand’s success, so I just kept an open line of communication with them.”
The journey: How Brayden became GM of Method
For Brayden, gaming was with him throughout his childhood and even opened the door to his first career path.
“I started off as a gamer as young as I can recall, playing pong on the Atari. Gaming really never did leave me after that. By the age of 13, I was getting bored with the games that I had accessible to me so I started to teach myself how to be a video game programmer. So, for the next 4 years or so, I focused solely on video games, trying to find a hard balance to strike between sports and school and working on my game development.”
“By the time I graduated high school I’d made a flip-phone game at the time, a Space Invader Clone, and two PC games that were shipped out with a piece of E3 award-winning hardware that I sold in stores. I felt really rewarded, not only by developing them but being surrounded by people who were as enthusiastic about playing video games as myself. And I think from that point forward gaming was forever ingrained within me.”
Brayden first became exposed to the management area of work while pursuing his talent for development.
“The first bit of management experience I gained was actually after I graduated college. I started off as an iPhone developer at a company and worked my way up into management there, so I got a lot of great management exposure kind of in the real world. Then when I got a chance to shift into the esports bubble a little bit more there was a lot of things I could take from software development management and directly apply it to esports management.”
With some management experience under his belt already, the arrival of Overwatch as an esports title was the next step for Brayden in the direction of joining Method.
“After becoming a manager for the software development company I worked for, Overwatch came out not too long after. I had the ability to have beta access and I saw very early on there was a lot of potential with the game, and I wanted to play in the early GosuGamers cups. So I formed a team, started to play competitively, and we did really well for the first couple of months. But I then had enough self-awareness to realize that I was the person holding back the team. At that point, I withdrew myself a little bit, and decided to manage the team and help find replacements for my role and to continue improving.”
“So that was my first time going from player to team manager. And then as team manager, that’s when I really could use a lot of the things I learned as a manager in the real world to interact with players. Not only that, though - to interact with organizations and other companies, to pitch ourselves in what way would be the most presentable and advantageous for us.”
“I worked with a number of organizations and we ultimately landed on signing with Method as an Overwatch team a couple of years back. I managed the team with Method for a number of months. I decided after a while that I had learned quite a bit and, since I’d always wanted to start my own esports organization, I decided to take a step back from Method’s Overwatch team and take a stab at running my own org, Rockets Esports.”
Skills needed in esports management
Brayden found his way into esports management from originally playing Overwatch, something more common in esports than it might sound. To help guide the next generation of talent, we asked him whether or not the management experience he had earned in a conventional job helped him become GM in Method.
“I’d say, personally, the past experience was beneficial. I don’t think it was directly beneficial in writing it down on paper and having Method look at it, but more in the way of being able to present the Overwatch team to Method and know what they were looking for from a business perspective and what we could offer them as a team. So it helped more in practice than by credentials.”
“Skills I believe you need in esports management are great spoken and written communication, and the ability to be as honest and transparent as possible. I know a lot of people seem to let power get to their head when they have those kinds of positions so they act a little bit differently, but the biggest strength you can have is being human and as open-minded at all times.”
“I think for me, getting hired by Method was a combination of that and knowing what businesses need from teams to make it a fiscally responsible decision on their part. So, making sure there were opportunities for large-scale tournaments or prize pools. You have to pitch yourself in a way that says “as a business, you’re going to benefit greatly from this” and you have to be realistic with those things.”
Next, we wanted to ask Brayden some of the main topics we thought candidates looking to get into esports would find useful.
What people can do to increase their chances of getting into esports management
“I think engaging with people who are like-minded is a great way to start, but also if you’re in college taking classes that allow you to think freely and challenge, not only yourself but challenge others is useful. It gives you a perspective of open-mindedness that not a lot of people get the exposure to. I don’t necessarily think that it all hinges on your education or your school, I think it mostly hinges on your experiences and your outlook.”
“So I would just say throw yourself into various experiences that allow you to broaden your outlook on life.”
Whether volunteer work can benefit someone looking to get into esports
“I think so. Volunteer work, or at least the attitude that it is acceptable is imperative, because if you have no experience in esports then the likelihood of you getting a paid position is nearly impossible. Volunteering is perceived often in a negative light, but you really have to understand that by offering your time for no monetary exchange you still are actually receiving experience, which I find people are undervaluing more often than not.”
“This exchange is profitable for you in the long term if you think of it as an investment. You give your time, you get experience. People value experience, so they give you monetary offerings.”
Factors that make a candidate more desirable to hire when looking at resumes
“The problem I have with resumes from people, personally, is that when we got a stack of resumes they were all relatively the same. There are very small differences and deviances in what candidates show because they know exactly what we’re looking for from the bullet points on our website.”
“I think what really makes people shine and stick out is how far above and beyond they go to show that they can add value to the company in ways that might not even be on the job listing. So if you have a skill or you have some kind of knowledge from another branch of life, incorporating that into your resume or even coming forward with solutions to problems that you already see present in the place that you’re trying to work for can help.”
“I just think a stack of resumes, it’s really easy to stick out. It’s just really hard if you think about the time you have to put in to make that happen. But I think that’s really what makes the difference for people wanting to get a job - just going the extra mile.”
General advice for people looking to get into esports
“I think my general advice for people looking to get into esports would be to be humble, have fun and be ready to work hard. I think networking is key, and don’t underestimate the value that other people can bring to you.”
Some awesome stuff to come out of this interview, from Brayden’s story of turning from player to GM in esports to the advice at the end. We hope this has helped you out in how to secure a job in esports, and in operations in particular.
Be sure to check out our career interview with Matt Borker, which covered the area of social media, and keep your eye out for our future interviews!
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