October 12, 2020

From Player to Analyst ft. Woong

When pro players retire from competitive play, that’s it right? Done, finito, GGWP. But is that really true? Are we all supposed to give up esports and become accountants? 

Not necessarily. 

The entire local scene was built by players. So if you’re not ready to surrender, how do you find a new spot in esports?  

In order to tackle this heavy question, we reached out to Benelux League of Legends Analyst Omar ‘Woong’ Van Vynckt. Woong works as a freelance Analyst for META. You may even have spotted him recently on the Benelux Charity Stream, or casting for the Belgian College League and RedBull SoloQ finals.

Thanks for helping us with this heavy topic! Let’s start from the top. Players in esports tend to be young. Did you feel like your player career had an expiry date on it? 

I started around the age of 19, which is pretty late for a gamer. Nowadays, new players are 15, 16 years old. I wasn’t good enough at that age and only got better as I got older and more familiar with the game. I think that’s why I feel like there’s no time limit, unless you set one yourself. Age doesn’t determine how good you are, as long as you keep evolving and keep track of the game.

Looking back, I realise that being an older player can also work in your favour. Especially in the Benelux. We have a lot of rookies that could use the experience of veterans to get them up to speed with competitive League of Legends. 

Did you think staying in esports long-term was an option at the time? 

I loved esports the moment I got into it and I knew I wanted to stay here for as long as possible. 

It took me a long time to take the leap and actually start making my hobby into my career. As a professional player, you don’t have a lot of steady income, especially in those days. Esports was still developing in the Benelux and there was no certainty that you would make it. I always considered the option of going “all in”, but there is always that little voice in your head to stop you. 

Eventually, I decided to take the leap, not as a player but as a freelancer. I was mainly focussing on on-screen talent at META (4Entertainment back then), but I took a side job to sustain myself. 

How did you end up working at META? 

Being on a tier 2 team, not making a lot of high stake tournaments, you have a lot of free time on your hands. I was still in Sector One Academy and we missed out on the ERL. Bastian (Stolkie) reached out to me to make a guest appearance at one of META’s productions. It was all quite new, being on a show with people like Colin (Koolein) and giving my opinion on things. 

I guess he saw some potential because we stayed in contact for a while and he opened up a lot of doors for me on the broadcast side of things. I will be forever grateful for what he did. I liked doing the guest appearances so much that I knew the right choice was to dedicate more time into that than playing. Some months later, I’d quit playing altogether. 

What kinds of opportunities do esports enthusiasts and professional players have to stay in the scene? Is getting an esports job in the Benelux rare? 

Tough question. What I’ve learned is that you need at least two of the following three skills: experience, plus passion and/or skill. That’s your baseline of getting into esports, or any job for that matter. 

I think getting a full-time job in esports is still rare. The industry is growing, but it’s still pretty small compared to other industries. Gradually new jobs come in as we grow, but mostly on the business side of things. It shouldn’t be a secret that I’m also not full-time in esports, but my dream is to eventually get there. 

That said, I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to find a job. The industry (at least in the Benelux) is really tight. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any opportunities, you just have to fight harder to get them. There are lots of volunteer-based opportunities, and you should definitely try some for yourself. Doing that will help get your name out there. For ex-professional players, I’d recommend trying to apply as coach for a team. If you’re an enthusiast, it all depends on your skillset. Esports consists of so much more than just tournaments being played by professional players.

Just remember that if you are good at something, don’t do it for free. People will always try to take advantage of that. 

What should players be doing to improve their chances?

Start acting like a professional. Your socials are your cv, keep them clean and informative. But also, make it attractive so people look into you more and consider you for upcoming gigs/jobs. As a player, for example, if you didn’t qualify for an offline event, still go. Make connections with new people, talk and present yourself. You are your own biggest asset, sell it.

Thanks to Woong for popping by LLL to give his perspective on the topic! You can check out more of his work using the links below.