Steve Arhancet has his dream job. As the co-owner of Team Liquid, he runs one of the most popular professional gaming organisations in the world.
His teams compete in professional leagues and tournaments in every major competitive video game, earning big cash prizes and netting lucrative sponsorships from companies like HTC, Nissan, and Red Bull.
It didn’t start that way. In 2012, Arhancet left behind his six-figure salary as a Washington D.C.-based consultant to build a business from scratch based around a professional video gaming team. Along the way, Arhancet has had to use every skill he learned on the corporate ladder to grow his team in a cutthroat market.
Team Liquid is still a work in progress, but in a dynamic and growing space like professional video gaming, the team has the chance to become the next Yankees.
Arhancet wakes up at 6:30 a.m. Though the majority of the pro-gaming world doesn't start their day before 12 p.m., Arhancet has found it hard to let go of his East Coast-go-getter mentality.
While eating breakfast, Arhancet takes a look at his calendar for the day. It is absurdly packed. As Team Liquid's general manager Steve Perino told me, Arhancet is often so busy meeting with sponsors and e-sports organisations that if Perino asks to discuss an issue, Arhancet's answer is 'Find an empty slot in my calendar.' There aren't usually many.
At 7:00 a.m., Arhancet takes a call with his co-owner Victor Goossens, who is based in the Netherlands, to discuss what needs to get done that day. The two merged Arhancet's Team Curse -- which focused on League of Legends, the most popular game right now -- with Goosens' Team Liquid, which had teams in every other major e-sport, to create a professional gaming juggernaut. The deal is still fresh, so they are still working out the details.
At 8:30 a.m., it's time to go to the office. Arhancet has always been a self-starter. After college, he started his own financial planning practice through American Express. He did so well at it that he bought his first car in cash.
Next, Arhancet stops by a nearby cafe to grab iced coffee. He says that he drinks more coffees per day than he can count.
The office is located inside the Regus Santa Monica, a beautiful complex with restaurants, a park, and a fitness center. The offices for HBO and Riot Games, which publishes League of Legends, are in the same complex. Team Liquid has teams for every major competitive video game, but League is the most popular and Arhancet's favourite.
Team Liquid's office is a small 3-room suite in a co-working space that houses many early-stage start-ups. Team Liquid is doing well, but with the industry still young, the business is very much a small business.
After getting set up and answering emails, Arhancet has his second meeting of the day at 10:00 a.m. He takes a call with the leaders of two major professional gaming organisations that run gaming tournaments. As the industry is growing, it is also consolidating, which means a lot of discussions about where E-Sports is going.
At 11:00 a.m., Arhancet's League of Legends team and their coach arrives to start their daily practice. He has a quick meeting with the team to go over goals for the day's scrimmages. Arhancet used to be a player on the team before deciding to focus full-time on growing the business. He still knows a lot about the game.
A television in Arhancet's office streams the team's practice games so that he can check in on how they are doing. Each day, the team plays two four-hour practice sessions, interspersed with meetings to go over what is happening.
Around 11:30 a.m., Arhancet starts interviewing multiple candidates for an Ad Operations position over Skype. Team Liquid's websites are a major community center for all types of gamers, netting 30 million page views per month. He thinks a dedicated Ad Operations person will help them double or triple their revenue from the sites.
At 1:30 p.m., Arhancet has a meeting with his star free agent acquisition, Chae 'Piglet' Gwang-jin, a former League of Legends world champion from Korea. Chae speaks English poorly and has had many disagreements with Liquid's coach Peter Zhang. Arhancet has to step in to make sure Chae is on the same page as the rest of the team. Because League of Legends is arguably Liquid's most important team, Arhancet is very hands-on.
At 2:00 p.m., Arhancet and the team have a late lunch while going over team issues. For most of the season, Arhancet has let the coach and analyst handle everything. It is the last week of the season however, and the team has to win both of their final games to make the playoffs. Arhancet isn't taking any chances.
At 4:00 p.m., Arhancet heads to Equinox Gym to meet his personal trainer. When he's done around 5:30 p.m., he heads straight to dinner. Rush hour Los Angeles traffic means you have to leave a lot of driving time.
At 6:30 p.m., Arhancet has dinner with a rep from one of his sponsors. Unlike traditional sports teams that rely on game tickets and broadcast rights to net income, e-sports teams rely primarily on sponsorship and advertising deals. In the beginning, Team Liquid relied primarily on niche gaming companies like G2A, Razer, and HyperX. They have begun to net larger partnerships with HTC, Nissan, and Quest Nutrition.
After dinner, Arhancet heads back to the office to have a one-on-one meeting with his primary team analyst Mark Zimmerman, who has been with the team for many years. Arhancet is looking to hire another analyst underneath Zimmerman and the two need to go over how the team performed after Arhancet left for the day.
At 10:00 p.m., Arhancet heads to the home of Team Solo Mid owner Andy Dinh to hang out with him and other team owners. Team Solo Mid and Team Liquid often work together closely. Dinh and Arhancet were scheduled to do an in-person interview with a candidate that Arhancet had interviewed earlier in the day. They decided to hire the candidate to do Ad Operations for both teams.
Arhancet gets home around 12:00 a.m. and hops on the computer to play League of Legends for a few hours before bed. He may own the team, but he still loves to play.
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