We managed to get an opportunity to quiz Chris Smith, Tt eSPORTS' Aus/NZ E-Sports & Community Manager about his role, the competitive gaming industry and how he landed a job that many people dream about.
Chris, could you please explain what being the Aus/NZ E-Sports & Community Manager at Tt eSPORTS is all about? What do you do day to day and how you connect with the eSports community?
My job is to be the connection between the gamers and my company, you have to have a gamer to understand gamers! I cover a bunch of tasks from some sales promotions to running eSports events, sponsoring public gaming events to doing lectures on our products and how to get involved in eSports. My work load day to day greatly varies depends what is coming up. We have a massive headset launch soon of the Level 10 and an event at Monash University too, so I'm currently preparing for these.
How old are you and how long have you been working in this role?
I turned 22 a few days ago and I've been in this position since January 2011.
What's the hardest part of your job?
Definitely paperwork, I'm the type of guy who loves going to events and talking to people. However it requires setup and wrap-up reports/forms/emails etc.
What's the easiest part of what you do?
For me, definitely talking in-front of crowds and running competitions. I love being able to use my experience to help educate others on product features, in-game tips etc and also being the guy to run the competition that others can compete in!
How did you come to work with Tt eSPORTS?
I started off by doing online game commentary for CS:S, Battlefield 2 and Call of Duty 4 through www.netgameradio.com – through this I met a now close friend who had ties with Thermaltake Australia. He told me that Tt wanted to promote their new sub-brand (Tt eSPORTS) in Australia through a $30,000 tournament. I helped promote it for them, shoutcast it and fix up the tournament structure. Through this contact I did some freelance work for the company and was eventually offered this brand new role.
What hardware are you rockin' at home?
At my core I'm a competitive gamer, so I'm never in need of the absolute latest hardware. I'm running the following:
- CPU: Intel 2600k
- CPU Cooler: Water 2.0 Performer
- GPU: GTX 570
- PSU: Tt Toughpower 775w
- Mobo: Asus P8Z68-V Pro
- Case: Tt Element G
- RAM: 8gb DDR3
- SSD: Corsair Force 3 120gb
- HDD: 1.5tb WD Green
- Keyboard: Tt eSPORTS MEKA G1
- Mouse: Tt eSPORTS Saphira
- Headset: Tt eSPORTS Shock Spin
- Mouse Pad: Tt eSPORTS White-Ra White
- Mic: Blue Snowball USB
- Monitor: BenQ XL2410T (Main), Acer 23" (Secondary)
- Accessories: Galeru Mouse Bunge
What games do you play on it?
My main game was Counter Strike: Global Offensive. I've decided to stop playing competitively recently so I'm kicking back on Diablo 3, Battlefield 4, Hearthstone and Dota2.
Are you or were you an eSports competitor?
I was a competitive eSports player in a few different games previously: Battlefield 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Counter Strike: Source, Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
I reached a top 6 in Australia for a few of these games, but I feel my time of competitive play may just be over as I focus on other things!
What are you interests outside of the eSports world?
Cars, gym, BMX riding, music.
We have been asked a bit about how to get sponsored and become a "professional gamer". I know it's a childhood dream for many to get paid to play video games but the reality is that there are some people out there who do actually get paid to play and take home prize money.
How do 'professional gamers' make their money?
One thing people have to realise is that a professional gamer is a marketing tool, much like your favourite cricket or Rugby player. The issue comes where these professional players are even more singular and put in a spot light compared to number 16 of 25 on the Aussie Rugby squad.
Money comes through many different avenues, depending on your game of choice and circumstances, some of these include: Winning tournaments, salaries from teams or sponsors, personal sponsorship, appearance fees, sale of merchandise, advertising through streaming services and more.
Making money in eSports is not always easy and that's one thing that people need to realise!
When you are sponsoring gamers, how do you determine which gamers to sponsor? Is it down to their gaming ability or personality, what they play or if they are already well-known?
It's a bit of all of the above. As I said previously, you have to be marketable! It's not always about placing #1 in every tournament – you have to be kind and talkative with fans, have a solid online presence and attend lots of events.
For all the gamers out there who are interested in competitive gaming:
Where do they start?
Find your game of choice and Google a community to join. Sign up to the forums, get involved an start meeting people! Some examples:
CS: GT eSPORTS, CSGO.com.au
TF2: Oz fortress
Quake: 4 Seasons Gaming
Does attending LAN events like RESPAWN help?
Attending LANs consistently will provide a major advantage when you start playing national competitions in the future. It also helps you meet new people!
How can people find out about events, join clans etc?
Through the communities above and their social media pages.
Do gamers need to specialise in 1 game, 1-2 games, become an all rounder or does it not matter?
If you're wanting to be hyper-competitive – 1 game is all you should focus on.
What's the best way to prepare/practice?
I would say talk to some of the leaders in your field, there are many different ways to practice for any games! I can help someone with Counter Strike, but if you're prepping for ACL Pro's LoL finals, I can't be of much help!
We have been playing with the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable and it makes recording games a snap. At the product launch, there were a bunch of competitive console gamers who recorded their games for 'training' purposes.
What are your thoughts on recording games and watching them later? Does it really make much difference and do many eSports competitors actually do it?
It's an extremely good tool. You should always focus on watching people who are better than you to learn from what they do, analyse literally everything, think to yourself WHY are they doing this now? HOW do they do this? etc. Watching yourself on occasion is also good as you can pick up on bad habits and work on them in the future.
Working for Tt eSPORTS and Thermaltake, you are around a lot of cool gadgets and hardware, we saw some great stuff recently at the RESPAWN LAN event in Melbourne and the EB Games Expo in Sydney. What are your top 3 upcoming products and why?
1. Level 10 headset – Designed by BMW, looks awesome, 100% aluminium base so it doesn't snap, detachable cable so it doesn't get caught in your seat wheels and break off
2. Poseidon Keyboard – Fully backlit Cherry blue mechanical board for under $100!
3. Toughpower DPS PSU – It's a power supply that comes with software to monitor your voltages and can even track how much you're spending on your PC power!
Are peripherals and components really that important in order to be competitor? Are great players typically "that good" in that they will win with either a $40 mouse or a $140 mouse?
It all depends on core features of the product. Just because you're mouse is expensive with 99 buttons does not mean you're better. But if you're running a sensible DPI with a comfortable shape and a reliable sensor, you will have an advantage over others.
Out of your personal gaming setup, what is your favourite component or peripheral?
The shock spin headset and Saphira mice are equal for me. Mice are VERY personal and I love the simple styling of this mouse. The DPI buttons are on the bottom (I don't use them ever), there are two side buttons only (I only need two).
The shock spin headset is extremely light and comfy, I have never gotten sore ears from wearing it. I wear these cans all day in the office and all night gaming without any consequences!
What is the next thing that you want to upgrade?
I'll most likely go for a second graphics card in my PC when it starts being unable to handle new generations of games. For the moment I'm happy.
Thanks for giving us your time Chris - is there any other advice or guidance that you would like to give to people out there that are really into their PC gaming and want to become more competitive?
Make sure you stick to your peripherals! Find something you really like and keep it the same, this will help your muscle memory and improve you as a player.
Please also reconsider your DPI settings, having a high DPI in most cases hinders your gaming performance. Let's look at professional Counter Strike players for example, 99% of these guys are using 800 or LOWER DPI settings. This means that you're able to accurately pinpoint targets.
I personally use the following mouse settings in ALL games.
Win Sens: 6/11 (Should always be this no matter what)
In-game: 2.2 (for CS:GO)
Mouse Acceleration: OFF (aka 'enhance pointer precision in Windows settings).