VaynerSports’ Darren Glover on Success, Recruiting and VaynerGaming
Esports is more than simply playing games all the time. It’s also important to look at the people behind the scenes. The managers, coaches, producers. But we’ve also spoken recently about VaynerSports and their new VaynerGaming initiative. They’re expanding from being just traditional sports agents, to recruiting popular esports and streaming personalities. This is a huge move, and they’ve had years to learn lessons from traditional sports, and take it to a scene that sorely needs it. So we’re pleased to reveal this interview with VaynerGaming’s own Division Lead, Darren Glover.
One of the downsides to esports right now, is there isn’t enough attention to physical and mental well-being. It’s more than a heartless grind for skill and content all the time, and we think that Darren Glover and VaynerGaming understand that. So take a read at what their thoughts on esports are!
Interview with VaynerGaming’s Darren Glover
Jason: You’ve spent time in the gaming industry, helping a variety of talents build communities. What would you say is the most difficult hurdle to overcome when building a community from the ground up?
Darren: Before doing anything, we define what “success” looks like for the individual. Right off the bat, this is very much overlooked in the industry. Each individual is that – an individual – we don’t treat them like they’re all the same. Then, the two most difficult hurdles are: being patient, and being consistent. The majority of success stories are not overnight, they simply take time. Having a sense of urgency and being patient at the same time is the model that we work by and work to instill in our clients. Being consistent means having aspirations but then putting your head down for 18 months and not worrying about social media follower count, concurrent viewership, etc. The easiest way to grow a community is to not focus on “growth” but to focus on “engagement” with the current community you have already. People are naturally attracted to a community that has depth, not width.
Jason: What lessons, if any, do you think VaynerGaming has learned from the treatment and recruitment of traditional sports athletes, as they move into the esports field?
Darren: The way we handle client service is the same across all of VaynerSports divisions; we’re investing in the person and see our relationship spanning well beyond the peak of their professional careers. I think what makes VaynerGaming unique is our clients are putting out 5-10 hours of organic content every day via their live streams. This is what excites us diving into the space is that we’re able to take content that is already being created during practice sessions and utilize our proprietary content model to elevate the personal brand and communities, while ultimately aligning them with brands that make authentic sense.
Jason: On that note, I’d like to talk about mental and physical health. One of the things that esports seems to lack right now is attention to both of these. What will VaynerGaming be doing to ensure the mental and physical well-being of those under their banner?
Darren: This is one of the most important topics as a society, and we believe it’s especially important inside the gaming industry. Again, our gaming clients are putting themselves out there on a daily basis for hours. They are being extremely vulnerable and really there are not a lot of other industries like that. As you can imagine, it’s inherently exhausting and opens the door to a daily dose of criticism and negativity that can wear on a gamer. We take a proactive approach with regular communication to work through physical and mental hurdles before they ever turn into an issue and have specifically negotiated mental health breaks into many of the brand partnerships we’ve put together.
Jason: One of the great things about esports and gaming is there’s something for literally anyone. Are you able to discuss any of the games/players you might have your eyes on for the future of VaynerGaming?
Darren: We obviously just launched so we are also just beginning the recruiting process We are very open-minded. We’re less focused on specific titles and much more focused on finding the right individuals who we can make a real impact with.
Jason: Something you said in a recent press release really stood out to me – “. . . relevancy is not necessarily tied strictly to performance or wins and losses”. With that in mind, is VaynerGaming planning to look at streamers/content creators who may not be as well known, but could have potential regardless of their record in competitive gaming/streaming?
Darren: Correct! The “gaming” industry is becoming a staple pillar in the “entertainment” space, and with that, we understand there are the 1% of skilled gamers that are competing professionally at the highest level possible, but there are also extremely skilled, talented and entertaining gamers in the other 99%. We strive to represent both types of gamers.
Jason: What do you look for, when you’re considering talent to work with and help build?
Darren: From either a competitive player or content creator aspect, we’re looking for clients that show entrepreneurial tendencies. Gamers that aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. The clients that clearly are passionate about improving their skills, and growing their community, where our services add value from content, marketing and sales can kick-in and immediately alleviate pressure and elevate what they’re already doing on their own.
Jason: Does VaynerGaming have plans to deal with whole teams, or perhaps sign a team of their own to manage?
Darren: At the current moment, no. We’re focused on finding top tier individuals that we want to represent and help take their careers and communities to the next level.
Jason: In your downtime, what sorts of esports do you find yourself watching?
Darren: There are a couple routes that I take for esports entertainment. First off, I’m a huge advocate of Twitch Rivals and their ability to introduce new games into the industry while partnering with content creators that I’m familiar with to give me the ability to see new titles and get a first glance at what a competitive vibe might look like. For current established titles, I’m personally a big Apex Legends player, and I really enjoy the continued growth that the title has with their competitive scene. I enjoy seeing the excitement and evolution of the CDL and the growth of COD and Warzone – I’m extremely curious to see how the two blend together in the coming years. And then I love seeing Fortnite’s ability to continue being a trendsetter in so many ways for the non-franchise model competitive scene.
Jason: Can you think of any esports that are being slept on? Maybe something players may find unexpected excitement in?
Darren: That’s up to them to find out on their own. We ultimately want our clients to genuinely enjoy the game they’re playing. They won’t know what they like or dislike unless they test it, and we’re not only comfortable with them doing that, we’d actually recommend it. So my advice to players would be to not be afraid of trying out new games!
Jason: VaynerGaming aims to be a first-of-its-kind agency, but how will they do that? What are they offering their players that stand out from the pack?
Darren: We very much call this the Vayner difference. We focus and start with content and community first, and see this being the most important piece to the marketability of our clients. The stronger the gamers community is, the more valuable that gamer becomes with regards to negotiations of team deals or brand partnerships and sponsorships. Our ability to implement our proprietary content model established by Gary, mixed with our internal sales and marketing experience endemically and non-endemically, sets our clients apart from other gamers in the ecosystem. VaynerGaming clients can put more focus into what they do best, and leave a lot of the “extra” stuff to us.