How to get into Esports: an interview with Sam Han, Jr

Sam Han, Jr. is the Esports Marketing Analyst for Golden Guardians, but his title barely touches the surface. A love for League of Legends inspired him to turn his fascination with esports into a career by identifying and creating his own opportunities.

NGame: How did you get involved in esports?

Sam Han Jr.: Professionally, I went to school for engineering. I started playing League of Legends in college in the middle of the winter finals. I started watching the small tournaments [including] the LoL season one world championship, which was really small — I think the prizes were mousepads and stuff. I started watching more streamers and content creators so I could get better at the game. Once esports in North America got really big through Riot Games, I was pretty much hooked.

Somewhere during my professional career, I realized that gaming and esports is a real thing — why didn’t I think of this? Can I actually figure out a way to follow my “passion” and get into gaming and esports? I started doing podcasts and other content around esports and LoL and eventually pivoted my way into [the position of] video editor, content manager, that kind of stuff. 

I started out doing freelance work for The Golden Guardians, since I lived in Wisconsin, and all the League of Legends esports is in Los Angeles. It wasn’t until I moved to L.A. that I offered to do more edits for them and was offered full-time employment in April of 2019.

NGame: What are your responsibilities in your current position?

Sam Han Jr.: My current [job responsibilities are] definitely not what I was hired for (laughs). It changes almost monthly. With that start-up feel, everyone wears a ton of different hats. I started out as a video editor creating content for social and gameplay video cuts — very simple stuff. Eventually, it’s pivoted to social media strategy for video content and social media coverage as a backup person for the social media manager. 

My title is Esports Marketing Analyst, but I do more product management stuff right now. Basically, a project is given to me, and I figure how we’re going to do it, what our vision is for it, and how we’re going to actually turn that product into a reality. That applies to merchandise, YouTube channels, Media Day production, etc.

Being able to help lead a product and the people around it, using their gifts and talents to make something amazing, is what I love the most. Media Day is what I’m most proud of when it comes to things we’ve put out. 

We don’t have control over how well our players are going to play, but we do have control over how good they look and how they’re portrayed on social media. Media Day was the first big product that I worked on. We put about 18 members and players through photo and video stations to get assets for them [that can be used] for the whole year to deliver on partnership obligations. We’re also posting out on social media to get people hyped with behind-the-scenes content. It became one of our biggest sellable assets for media partners.

NGame: What advice would you give someone looking to get started in esports?

Sam Han Jr.: “Passion” is talked about so much. Our millennial generation and the one below us are obsessed with it. But right now, find the best opportunity. There’s not much that I can take from my mechanical engineering degree designing pharmaceutical and space equipment and bring to an esports team. But, I saw an opportunity that people weren’t creating a certain kind of content in esports. I taught myself how to edit videos from YouTube tutorials. I found my niche, and it doesn’t look as amazing as my competition but can engage the audience. I brought my own taste and flair to it.

As I found my way into Golden Guardians, I brought value and found more opportunities. I was able to bring my engineering skills when it comes to product management, people skills, and even being able to look at a project with an organized, business-minded viewpoint. That was valued, seen and I delivered success on that. 

Instead of doing what I really, really wanted to do in esports, I found an opportunity where there was less competition. Without that experimentation, I never would have found out what I was good at and what I liked doing. That’s still helping me to this day. 

Written by HB Duran

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