Jonathan Pan former CEO of Ember talks with Mark Register about how to run a successful Esports organization
Mark Register – What are the things you need to concentrate on as top priority to run a successful Esports organization?
Jonathan Pan – The top thing to focus on…I’ll speak for a new team.
For a new team you’ve got to just win.
To some degree you have to be a little ruthless in your pursuit of winning.
If a player doesn’t work out, if a coach doesn’t work out, you have to cut them immediately.
My mistake in that regard was two fold.
First I delegated all the game decisions to my general manager and that was a terrible mistake because for a small company, for a startup, the CEO needs to be involved in the “product” in this case the product is the team.
Delegating that completely was a giant blunder on my end.
Not to say that I could have done better but a lot of the issues that you find in Esports teams is more interpersonal between young males, teenagers, or young adults.
It’s something I happened to deal with in my past work history so I should have been way more involved there.
So the first part is don’t delegate the most important thing.
The second thing you need to focus on is…ruthless seems like a harsh adjective but…I was watching the Riot games production on TSM’s Reggie, he was talking about the struggles he’s had this season.
Even with a great team like TSM struggling a little bit in 6th place shows you just how competitive one game, League of Legends is in North America.
It’s competitive globally now.
So what is it going to take to make it in this league?
It’s not just money, you’ve got to be ruthlessly picking out win conditions.
For us we had a more holistic approach, “better humans become better athletes” and I still believe in that, but at the end of the day, yoga is not going to win you a game.
Yoga is very important to the overall development of a player but at the end of the day if I have to pick one thing, it would be in game leadership.
That’s the hardest thing to find and assess.
What player has the best game leadership?
Sometimes you might not find it out there and sometimes you might have to choose to develop it.
With the way things are going especially with LCS, you don’t have a year luxury to make this happen.
You have to make really good calls in the off season and that comes with experience and judgement and it’s going to be really hard.
If you make a mistake or you make a wrong bet you need to ruthlessly change your decisions.
I think this was a great learning experience for me too asking “how far am I willing to go in order to win?”
I think in this case I wasn’t willing to go that far because for me I still think Ember was a success because every single player left as a better person and they’ll all tell you that.
Of course they lost in playoffs, they looked terrible, the internet hates them, but when you ask them one on one they actually felt better.
Their future in jeopardy they need to figure out their next teams and things like that and I hope that all of them have a successful off season to land in a spot.
I think they are all coachable and they all have talents.
It’s very difficult to be ruthless in a situation where there’s a lot of humanity and emotions involved.
I’m definitely capable of doing it I just have to figure out what I want to do and what I don’t want to do.
There’s a certain point where I don’t want to go past because it’s not worth it for me.
Even if it makes me money, that’s not worth it for me to devastate someone’s career.
Maybe that means I’m a terrible Esports team owner.
If the competition is so high you have to make the right choices to win to be a good steward of capital for your investor because they just want to win but at the end of the day, one of my lessons learned…for me it’s not all about winning.
It’s about winning the right way.
And maybe my way isn’t aligned with other teams maybe it isn’t aligned with certain investors, maybe my investor, but at least I draw the line of who I am and what I represent and what my company represents.