Over the past several months and maybe even years, discussions have occasionally sprung up about the need for professional representation of players when negotiating contracts and taking care of the business side of the eSports world. Without any knowledge of what’s the going value of their skill, many up and coming players over various eSports titles have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous orgs. As in most sports and entertainment industries, these matters are supposed to be taken care of by agents, people, who receive commission to make sure that their client gets the best deal possible.
Despite the obvious need for agencies, there’ve been no news about it for a loooooong time until today, when news about two different companies intending to serve as eSports agencies dropped within hours of each other. It’s not hard to see why now is the time such developments in the scene. After all, as one of the people involved in one of the agencies announced, Alberto “Crumbzz” Rengifo said in the announcement video, with traditional sports orgs coming into the eSports scene, they will expect a certain infrastructure. Agents are certainly part of it. Teams’ front office representatives don’t talk to players, they talk with the agents. Who knows, eSports pros might soon actually be able to say, “Talk to my people about it.”
The more recognizable new agency to start operations is called Agency for Professional Esports, or APE. The unfortunate acronym notwithstanding, the company will have some experienced people involved. For eSports fans and players, the most recognisable name in the company is going to be Crumbzz, the former player of the legendary Team Dignitas, as well as the coach of Apex Gaming. His partners will be Matthew Pope and Jason Moore.
Mr. Pope is a young but experienced sports agent and industry insider, who previously held a position of Head of Football Operations at Exclusive Sports Group, LLC., a company, which represents Tyvon Branch, Doug Baldwin, and Joe Reitz among many others, according to the company’s website. According to the Our Team portion of the website, Mr. Pope got his clients deals with companies like Fathead, Under Armour, Nike, and Canon, among others.
Jason Moore’s claim to… fame is being Paris Hilton’s manager for a number of years as well as formerly being the President of Paris Hilton Entertainment and the Brand Manager for Phoenix1.
Crumbzz himself is a veteran of the scene. While he was never the best player in his position, it should not be counted against him because this new challenge requires a widely different skillset. It’s doubtful that Crumbzz is going to personally negotiate deals for players APE is sure to get the chance to represent. It’s much more likely to expect that the former player is going to act as the face of the company and a great source of insider knowledge about the current atmosphere of the pro scene.
The second agency to be announced is more a division of a sports agency. The difference between the two shows as soon as you look at both announcements. Where APE got introduced to people by YouTube, their competitors, Catalyst Sports & Media, put out a proper press release, just as it’s supposed to be done. The professionalism would promise good things for the new eSports department at Catalyst, however, there is a problem. Their eSports insider, Bryce Blum, while known to consult on legal matters pertaining to eSports, likely doesn’t have the connections enjoyed by Crumbzz. As it stands, Blum will be an Executive Vice President.
The Co-Founders of Catalyst more than make up for any lack of eSports insider knowledge with their immense traditional management experience. According to the press release, the Co-Founders have 40 years of combined experience at the highest levels of sports and entertainment. Happy Walters, the CEO of Catalyst, was formerly the Founder and CEO of Relativity Sports, the second largest sports agency in North America. Before he started dabbling and owning sports, Walters spent fifteen years in the music business, creating an independent record label, which he sold to Sony Music in 2003.
The Co-Founder and President of Catalyst, Josh Swartz, will be responsible for the company’s esports and investment operations. At Relativity, he was a President, managing day-to-day operations of the company and oversaw specific divisions for each sport. Prior to joining Relativity, Swartz was also the COO of Wasserman Media Group, a sports marketing and talent management company.
There are enough clients for both agencies with their numbers set to grow in the future together with the immense growth of the whole eSports scene. Whichever company the pros choose, we believe that they will probably be more than satisfied with the services they are provided. In either case, professional agents will definitely serve their needs better than they would themselves. If talent could get a great deal, there would be no agents, right?