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Creating content and competing in the esports space – Mitch Allan

Mitch Allen discuss the daily routine of NorCal Esports as a competitor and content creator.
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<v ->Hello and welcome back to the teach-out on esports.</v> I’m once again joined by Mitch Alan. Let’s unpause the conversation. So Mitch, we talked about content houses. How does that actually work? <v ->Yeah, sure.</v> Content house to me is something that was a need in NorCal in order for us to develop our next step. And in this community, having a content house, having people that you get to live with 24/7 and rely on and make content with is so important. So I ended up making that in August of 2020, and then we were able to open our second house, actually, that is seven minutes away, just a couple of months ago.
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And I believe back in May, so anyways, every day, we get together, we wake up, we, whether we’re making Tik Toks, YouTube videos, content on streams or anything like that, it is so important just to show people that, you know, you can only do so much, you’re so limited to you and your computer screen and camera when you’re making videos, but if you can then work with other people at the same house, it expands so much.
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And then to get these and to work with other people here, it motivates you, to be around people that you’re seeing being successful and seeing that they are doing the things that you wanna do, then you’re gonna do them and vice versa, you might be doing really well and kind of push some of the other guys at the house. Again, it’s so easy in this community to have a bad mental, we call it, you know, just get really down on yourself and really sad, but again, when you’re around so many people that are smiling and doing what they love, it’s very easy to be motivated.
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And that’s what a content house is for, it’s just people that love doing what you love and trying to make their dream a reality. And that’s, you know, I think a lot of people dream of being in a content house, especially with your best friends, and that’s what’s been so cool and fortunate for me in NorCal is we’re all pretty much best friends at these houses. <v ->Yeah, that’s cool, and I can definitely understand</v> the community that sort of can get built and helping to motivate each other and helping to keep each other from getting down when things are not working as well as you hope. So I can see a lot of value in that.
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I also wanted to sort of ask, how do you determine who you work with in NorCal Esports, as you mentioned earlier growing from a group of friends to a team, and sort of how do you navigate that space? <v ->I actually do things a little bit differently,</v> and this might come from my football background, just a football background briefly, in college, I was a four year starter, two year captain, ended up being All-American MVP of my football league, so I, yeah, thank you, I had a pretty big name, but again, that’s what taught me kind of the leadership role.
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And the biggest thing about that leadership role is I can tell pretty quickly someone that wanted it and someone that didn’t want it. And I think that’s a true value to me, and so part of my team, you know, you can break it up into two categories, there’s my managers, and those are the people that are kind of looking after the team and making sure and checking up on people, and then there’s the actual content creators. So for content creators, in order to pick those, we usually host recruitment challenges, in those recruitment challenge, we put them through a series of events to see how well they can do with different, you know, adversity and struggles and stuff.
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But the biggest thing is their consistency, and the number one thing I tell people is like, I wanna see their heart, how much do you care about this, how much do you love this? Are you gonna be here for two weeks and then realize that, you know, you’re going to college and then you just lose all, you know, motivation to do this, or are you someone that’s been doing this consistently and love it and smile every day and, you know, you can follow kind of the guidelines? And then the managers, this is what I do really differently than others.
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There’s a lot of managers in the esports scene or a lot of people that say they’re managers and here’s my profile, I grew this Instagram for 10,000. I don’t believe in that, I don’t think it’s healthy for me to pull on someone that might’ve been successful for another team to come on my team and just know how to treat my members, how I run things.
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So for my managers, I actually choose from my content creators, I work with these content creators for a year, I see that they’re involved in this, and then I talk to them, hey, would you be willing to take a higher up role at NorCal and be, you know, someone that can actually look out and care for people, and 99% of the time, they say yes, because they’ve been here so long, they see the family, they see the future, they see our goals.
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They wanna be in that position, and I still get to guide them as a manager, just being able to check in, and each manager has, you know, their own roles, sometimes overlooking websites or certain content things or even our, how we have house managers just making sure the house is, you know, are doing the good things. But yeah, that’s really important to me, is I don’t just throw people on to my team that have power, I don’t like that unless they understand how this actually works.
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And I think that’s how a lot of teams, you know, deteriorate from the inside, is they start giving power to people that become power-hungry, power-thirsty, making decisions for the team that’s not in the best interest of the team but best interest for them. So again, I’m a little picky, I’m a little bit different, but I think that is a very important thing to understand, is each organization is different and you have to treat like each one like, you know, it’s your family. That’s what I do at least, yeah, it’s my family.
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<v ->Yeah, I think that’s really cool ‘cause it gives your,</v> one, your content creators have an opportunity for advancement, which is something that we’ve talked with some other experts about can be difficult to sort of earn this passion as a younger person into something that could end up being a more long-term job. So I think it’s really valuable that you specifically look to advance people inside your organization. And I’m sure that that endears them to wanna stick with you more instead of, like you mentioned, looking at other teams, at other places to sort of jump to.
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One thing you mentioned earlier though is the challenges that you might put someone through as you’re looking to bring them on as a content creator. And I’m kind of curious, what are some of the issues that you could run into as a content creator, and what do you guys do to sort of help stave off some of that stuff? <v ->So the number one, the biggest issue by far,</v> as I’ve developed, you know, as an owner, as I learn every single day is just because someone sits behind a screen, they think they’re invincible, right? There’s no repercussions. If you say a mean word at school, you go to the principal’s office.
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If you, you know, do an illegal hit in football, you get a penalty. In this community, you can say some really mean things and then you just turn your computer off and leave and that’s it. And so what happens in this community is a lot of people are a target of hate. Whether, you know, people feel like, you know, that’s what, you know, that’s gonna make them feel better so they target you for hate. And there’s so many different kinds of hate out there, obviously, it’s something that needs to be addressed more often.
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But the number one thing I run into is just having my members understand that, you know, Johnny that’s 12 years old behind a screen that’s talking mean words to you, you know, somewhere in the world, you can’t take that to heart, you can’t take that personal. Usually, the most time they hate, it’s because of your success, because you’re doing something that wish they can do. And, you know, if you’re up here and they’re down here and they wanna be above you, they’re gonna talk as much hate as they can to try to bring you down so they’re above you, they make themselves feel better.
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But if you just stay at that top and you ignore them, you don’t look back, you’re gonna keep moving forward. And I think that’s what we do on our team, is that, you know, we have those meetings, we have those talks, it is addressed in our team meetings that we have almost pretty much every week, sometimes every other week, is, you know, we talk directly to our members, hey, you’re gonna get hate, I don’t, like, you cannot talk back, I don’t wanna see you firing away.
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And when it happens, I address, you know, that’s what my managers’ jobs are, that’s what my job is, when you see that, you know, something that might be taken the wrong way, we address it, we get it deleted right away, we talk about how it was wrong. And I think it just creates a very healthy culture and that’s what, again, what NorCal has been so successful on, is just creating a atmosphere where you wanna come in, you wanna be motivated, you wanna push yourself to be the best.
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And I think, you know, as you guys know, esports are competitive, it’s very easy, you know, to say some mean things back at people and have that competitive, you know, advantage over people. But again, when you kind of look at it in perspective and you understand, what am I gonna learn from this? I can talk, you know, I can say mean words behind a computer screen, like, what’s that going to teach you in life? When you kind of put that in perspective and understand that this is just hate, this is normal, I’m gonna keep pushing through that, I think that’s really important to learn and to help others learn.
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<v ->Yeah, I can imagine, as we’ve seen in other parts</v> of our culture, that being separated from sort of the individual who’s consuming your content can make that a lot safer for you as a content creator, both for your mental and physical health, to sort of understand that there’s a break between you as the content creator and the way that someone is sort of taking you. So I can imagine that that’s really important to learn really early. Otherwise, it could lead to a lot of problems, I think, down the line. You’ve mentioned about esports being competitive, and I wanna pivot a little bit to some of your more competitive endeavors.
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When you’re thinking about competition, do you think about the games you wanna enter a competition for first or are you looking at what your players and content creators are playing and then use that to determine what you wanna compete? <v ->Yeah, absolutely.</v> I will say, you know, I’m pretty upfront with my members about this. The competitive scene within NorCal is pretty limited. Competitive requires a lot of money and a lot of risk, and you sign those players for a lot of money and if they do well, you get that, you know, ROI, that return on investment.
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But at this point in my career, I just don’t have that money to quite make as many, you know, risks as I want to. However, so we do pick the content creator first, so here’s the deal. Any competitive player can become a content creator, no matter what, but any content creator can’t become a competitive player. So when I look into that competitive scene, I wanna make sure, hey, I know you have to practice, you know, we used to have practices and coaches for some of our competitive players at Fortnite, but at the end of the day, are you still gonna upload that video on YouTube?
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Whether you do really good or really bad in that tournament, you can still drive in thousands of views and really boost your influence and stuff. And so that is what I look for within a person, so I definitely choose the content creator, the person first. Now, in terms of games, I’ve really wanted to expand and get into other games, there’s Rocket League, there’s,
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you know, the new Call of Duty: Vanguard coming out, there was Apex, there was Splitgate now coming out. The thing with I see is I’m pretty good at kind of judging, hey, is this something that’s gonna take off or is it gonna be some that lasts a month, two months, and then kind of die out? And is it worth kind of putting that money into it right away? And again, that’s kind of just based on the community and, you know, it was pretty quick to see Fortnite is gonna blow up, that’s why, you know, I kind of went headfirst into it as much as I can, invested all my resources into it.
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And we’re still primarily Fortnite, however, I do consider ourselves more of a content creating team ‘cause I’m developing influencers for those sponsorships and partnerships. However, it is a very interesting field. You know, obviously, I think the number one competitive scene right now is Valorant, and I would love to get into it, but again, it is very tough to compete with some of these teams with so much money and, you know, you might get a guy and you might sign him for a decent amount, and then all of a sudden, you know, big team comes in and says, we’ll quadruple that per month instead of your six month, so it is really tough to compete with that, but you do your best, you work with it, but again, that’s kind of why I have focused more on the sponsorship side, the influence side, so not as much focused on the competitive scene.
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<v ->Yeah, I think that makes sense.</v> As you mentioned, there are some big players in the esports space. We’ve talked to some and we’re gonna be examining that more in this teach-out, but with a lot of the things that are going on from a large company space to things like Overwatch league and other official organizations with large buy-ins, I can understand why you might be hesitant to jump into that until you’re really ready to make that deep dive.
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So I did wanna ask, for the burgeoning content creator or competitor, what kind of advice might you give them for trying to break into the industry today versus, you know, 2018 when you started? <v ->The number one successful thing I’ve seen</v> from someone that actually becomes a competitive player is putting themselves around the right people to get there. So many times, it’s easy to come in, if you really wanna make this your dream, you have to take sacrifices. And so many people come into this and they’re like, hey, this is my friends, they’re good at the game, and then they get, you know, satisfied, they play with them.
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I mean, that’s like playing with your middle school friends the rest of your life trying to make it into the NFL. You can’t do that, you gotta, you know, work the way up the ranks, you gotta get to high school, compete with those guys, get to a college, compete with those guys. So same thing in the esports industry, you know, do your best with people of similar talent to you, when you realize you’re making that next step, boom, that’s kind of, you know, don’t be afraid to venture off, try a new thing, try, you know, a new four in Valorant, or you know what I mean?
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I think so many people are hesitant and they get satisfied not, you know, pushing their boundaries as, you know, it’s a practice. And another big thing is, and again, I relate this so much to sports ‘cause I was a sports player, but any sports player will tell you this. Everybody wants to play the games. Every single person wants to play the games. But the most successful players, you know, you can mention someone like Tom Brady, who’s 44 years old and still killing it in the NFL, is he more athletic than everybody, no. But the study he does, the film review, the talking to players, the chemistry he’s building, that is what makes him so special.
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And I would say the same thing to a competitive player. You know, how much time are you VOD reviewing, how much time are you working with others to talk about skills, strategies, new metas, what’s coming out, what you like, what you don’t like, all that kind of stuff? So that is super important that people like, no, no, I’m just good, I’m gonna keep playing.
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That’s how you become satisfied, you don’t become any better, you gotta put the time in, you got to do the things that you don’t like to do, just like any sports player, you don’t wanna condition, but you gotta do it in order to be healthy for the game and in shape, so again, that’s some of my best advice right there. <v ->So Mitch, we talked a little bit about some</v> of the things you need to watch out for when getting into the esports space, whether competitive or as a content creator. What are the things you sort of see as a benefit of working in this space and organization?
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<v ->Yeah, one of the things that’s so cool about this,</v> you know, modern technology is how you’re able to interact with people across the world. You know, growing up, you’re so limited to middle school friends or this friend, so this gives you an opportunity to possibly work with other people from across the world that have a similar interest in you, and I think that’s something that’s so cool. And if you can treat it the right way and understand, you know, online people, you know, you’re not supposed to tell your deepest, darkest secrets to or put your full trust in.
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However, those are guys that can be there for you and that can listen that I talked about earlier, and I think it’s so important to understand that if you treat this the right way, you’re really gonna get a lot of benefit after seeing how many people actually care about you and wanna listen to you. And you know, there’s obviously certain times where, you know, it requires you to go see your family and stuff, completely different, understanding, I’m not saying put all your friend group online, I’m just saying, hey, there’s a very open world here that have a lot of people that share a similar interest to you that, you know, as I said, you could become like lifelong friends.
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And like I said, one of the biggest moments for NorCal was getting to meet, you know, those 22 people that stayed at that house. You know, just seeing how much alike you are and how much fun we had doing stuff on the beach there, competing at the tournament, making food for everyone. And, you know, it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. And now I get to live with guys, when I moved in here, I only met one person, and we had 10 guys move in.
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I’ve only met one person prior to this, you know, and we all get along, we all have a great time, we all get to make content and live out our dreams, so again, a lot of benefits if you guys can treat, if you, you know, anybody can treat it the right way and professionally, absolutely. <v ->Awesome, thank you so much.</v> Once again, I appreciate you chatting with us, Mitch, and sharing your insight. NorCal Esports sounds like an awesome organization, so I really thank you for letting us know how all of it works. <v ->Thank you guys so much, I really appreciate your time too.</v>
Mitch Allan, Owner of NorCal Sports LLC, joins us again to discuss the daily routine of NorCal Esports as a competitor and content creator.

He shares why NorCal made the decision to focus more on content creation than competitive play and offers advice to burgeoning competitors and content creators looking to enter the industry.

Discussion: What responsibilities do you think content creators have to both viewers consuming their content and to game publishers from whom they are basing their content?

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