Training champions: meet the pioneer of modern esports coachingBilly Carney
August 13, 2020
GamersRdy is an online platform that helps video game players improve their play. Alex Gilmore is the founder of GamersRdy.
Welcome all. This interview is with a business leader who has an interesting role in the gaming community. As we’ve seen the world of competitive gaming explode, Alex has been a thought leader in the world of Esports coaching. In less than two years he has turned an idea into an expansive experience.
Alex, thanks for coming on. In your own words, what is GamersRdy?
Thanks for having me. GamersRdy is an online platform that helps people get better at the games they love. We do this through coaching, courses, and community involvement. Our coaches do both live sessions and game analyses. We offer a range of scalable courses. Most importantly, we're actively involved in the community, which helps us understand who our audience is and what they want.
So two years ago at this time you’re working a normal office job as a web designer, now you run an eSports site. What’s the story?
It has been a crazy journey. The fact that so much has happened in the past two years is amazing. For the previous six years I had worked as a web designer at different agencies around the U.K., learning everything from marketing to user experience to design. I’ve always looked to apply these skills to side projects, which I would work on in the evenings andSaturdays, or whenever I had a spare few minutes. About three years ago, I was working on my third side project. The project was sputtering so I went back to the drawing board. In my brainstorming sessions I would always pitch my ideas to my wife – some were bad, some were good. When we started discussing GamesRdy we began to realize there was a real market opportunity. There are countless options for traditional athletes to hire a coach or trainer, but nearly none for gamers – which is confusing. Proportionally, it is logical for video game players to have more options given the popularity of the industry.
As I began development, I messaged a few YouTubers to get some feedback on my product. Brett (known to the Rocket League community as FLuuMP) and I went back and forth on a few emails and calls and he eventually became my business partner. Over the following year we were able to build out the site and prepare for launch. We ended up launching GamersRdy in October2018. It was an extremely exciting time as we had several on day 1. Fast forward to January 2020 and I know that I were going to take this to the next level, I’d have to quit my job and focus all my efforts on GamersRdy. The rest is history.
So you actually found your business partner, Brett/FLuuMP, through a cold email?
Yes, I recorded a short video of myself speaking about the idea, going through the design, and asking for input. At this point FLuuMP had maybe 28 thousand subscribers [compare that with 362 thousand, at the time of this article].
How do you separate GamersRdy from the competition?
I think GamersRdy does a good job of offering a holistic experience. We aren’t a massive corporation so we get to focus in depth on quality of experience as well as a genuine relationship with those we work with. As an example, there is no competitor that offers individually created bespoke courses, designed with content creators and coaches. They're generally just a series of videos in a timeline while we create something much more interactive and unique. It forces us to keep our quality at the highest level it can be.
How good do you have to be to become a coach?
We look for three things. 1) Your in-game rank has to be the highest rank. 2) Existing coaching experience - there is a direct correlation to how much time you’ve spent doing something with your aptitude in said task. 3) Existing community interaction – how involved you are (on social media, with orgs, professional scene, guides, videos, etc.).
What type of gamers should get a coach?
There isn’t a one-size fits all recipe. There isn’t a certain amount of hours played or rank that denotes you should or should not have a coach. I normally tell people to ask themselves two questions: 1) What value does the game bring you (do you enjoy the game) and 2) what desire do you have relating to the game (do you want to get better)? With regards to reason 1, you shouldn’t buy a game, play it for ten minutes, and then get a coach. When it comes to 2, some people want to be better because of different reasons. For example, their friends are playing at a higher level, some people want to better appreciate game mechanics to better appreciate the esports side of the game, or some people want to go pro. If you truly enjoy the game or want to get better, I would consider coaching options.
You have coaches for Rocket League, CS:GO, and Fortnite. Any planned expansion? How did you choose these games?
We started with Rocket League, as it’s a universe we’re close to. FLuuMP is very involved through his videos and other areas of the community. We added Fortnite and CS:GO to expand our audience and show people we are more than just Rocket League. CS:GO is a game with a generally older audience vs. Fortnite’s younger crowd, making the two good complements. When we think about expanding our platform to other games, we focus on a few things including how well we could integrate with the game's existing community or how big the esports component of said game is.
What are your favorite games? How long have you been involved with gaming?
Rocket League is up there, I’m currently ranked Champ 1. The game has a lot of depth and there is much to learn. I first got into online games back in 2009 when I got into Trackmania. I was doing stuff with teams, had a server. I made tracks, hosted tournaments, and it opened me up to the world of esports. Other than Rocket League, I’ve recently been playing City Skylines in my free time, which is pretty much the opposite of Rocket League. I’ve been recreating a city based in Italy where I used to live.
What’s next for GamersRdy?
At a high level we’re adding depth to what we have. Specifically we’re adding a number of coaches, especially in Fortnite and Counter-Strike. We’re adding courses for all three games and we continue to add that community depth with involvement and tournaments. We’re always looking for opportunities to add partners and grow our business.
Can you talk about changes you’ve seen in eSports over the past two years? What do you expect going forward and what role will coaching play in the future of competitive video games?
Watching eSports has become much more mainstream. There are almost 500 million people who now, at least occasionally, watch eSports. As audience numbers increase, organizations, teams, and platforms will organically grow. In terms of coaching I think we’ll see changes for both professional and non-professional coaching, both of which will become more normalized.
If we use Rocket League as an example, you can look back two years and see that there were very few teams that had a coach. Now it’s the opposite, there are very few teams without a coach. We’re also seeing a prominent rise for casual coaching. Right now, if you’re serious about becoming better at football or basketball, you may look to find a coach or trainer – this is an almost standard process. For one reason or another, this is not the case with video games. We see this trend slowly changing as video game coaching becomes more mainstream/normal. It will be a few more years until this comes full circle, but there is a clear upwards trend.
What do you think of Joe Rogan’s recent comments that video games are a waste of time?
I’ve watched a few clips, but not the full episode. I think he made the comment off the cuff. While many people, (including my mother-in-law!), may think something similar, I’m not convinced it was a particularly thought out argument. I think you could take a step back and apply what he said to any form of entertainment is a waste of time. This is not a sentiment I agree with. The concept of playing video games doesn’t differ much from sitting down and watching a TV show, if anything, it can be more beneficial. However, as is the case with anything in life, decisions are often about finding the right balance. Consider what your aim in life and you might see that entertainment should take less time than you're giving it.
Do your friends think you have the coolest job now?
The younger kids at church think I have the coolest job. Others are often a bit confused by the idea and it takes me a while to explain what I do!
You can check out GamersRdy here.