ESL UK’s Caroline Oakes: ‘Everything that we do in this ecosystem affects the whole of esports’

Caroline Oakes is an Overwatch fanatic, working as a business development associate at ESL UK, in addition to appearing as on-stage talent at various ESL events.

How did you break into games?

I did a very unrelated university degree in war, conflict and modernity at the University of Brighton. When I was studying this I decided I really wanted to work with what I love, and what I love is video games. So, I decided to do a Masters in international business and marketing and basically tailor-made my whole degree.

Every single assignment, I would make it about games, my whole thesis was about gaming. So this came in handy when I applied for ESL.

What’s your proudest achievement so far? 

It’d definitely have to be Battle of the Brands, a show that we did in January. This was a charity show match for SpecialEffect. I was a driving force behind getting it organised from the very beginning. I was the stage host for it as well, so not only was I involved from the very beginning, I then got to take this project and basically deliver it on stage. We raised over £16,000 for charity, which was pretty amazing.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date?

I think my biggest challenge would be to know myself, and to know not just what I’m doing in esports, but to trust myself when I’m approaching brands and telling them how to engage with the community in a way that’s going to resonate. Esports is still new in a lot of people’s eyes, and when you approach big brands, then you need to have a great plan to get them to sign up. Ultimately, everything that we do in this ecosystem affects the whole of esports. If you bring the brands in, it affects the community and how the community will respond. I think you want everyone to live together in the harmonious way, and that is quite tricky. It’s all about trusting myself and the knowledge I’ve gained working at esports and trusting that I know what will work.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Definitely the shows that we put on. Often I’m involved from the initial planning phases, and then seeing all of that work and effort translate through to the stage, it’s absolutely phenomenal. Sometimes people say: “Well, esports isn’t really sports.” 

When you take someone to these shows and you put them in… there’s a massive eureka, and you feel the whole audience showing them what it’s like in an absolutely intense show. That’s why we do what we do. You just feel the emotion when you’re there, and I think that makes it all worthwhile. 

What’s your big ambition? 

At the moment it’s just literally about developing myself and figuring out what I’m super good at. So, I just started hosting and I love that. It’s so much fun. I hope to become the host of my first big show and look at the audience and be like: “Yes, this is why we do what we do, this is esports.” 

What advice would you give to someone trying to get into esports? 

If you’re really passionate about it, get the experience where you can. 

There’s so many different roles in esports that you don’t know about. There’s marketing, production, video work, so many different aspects. Get skills in any of those things, get the experience so then when you apply you have that base set, and understand the games and community. That’ll make you a strong choice for any job in the area. On the other hand, it’s about knowing people. Help out at events, meet people, try to think about how you can make yourself stand out.

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