The esports industry has quickly grown into one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world over the past few years, with competitive gaming becoming one of the top spectator sports in the world. Esports are filled to the brim with a plethora of corporations that come together to help make the world of professional gaming possible, whether it be publishers, developers, peripheral producers, media companies, or tournament organizers. Now, an easy google search will show you a treasure trove of companies who work to put on esports competitions. However, one of the most unique members of the esports community, known as the Corporate Esports Asociation (CEA), is helping the industry have its version of the age-old corporate softball league team.
Strong team cohesion is essential for any department to reach its highest potential no matter the industry. This is no different for companies that have teams competing in the CEA regularly. It can be hard to connect with your colleagues on a deeper level when you work in different departments or even if you sit next to them every day when the day's business has you working in a million different directions. This is why being able to build a deep level of communication between team members that reach outside of working hours is an excellent way for teams to build stronger bonds that will, in turn, help them succeed in whatever challenges or endeavors they are tackling together at work. The CEA excels at assisting companies to have their employees build stronger relations with one another through the world of esports where they may have never known that their co-worker was a League of Legends fanatic as well.
"It's really about communication," CEA creator Brad Tenenholtz told Prima Games. "We hear stories a lot like 'Hey, I sat next to this guy for two and never spoke to him once. Never spoke to him once. We played in the CEA for one season, and now we are best friends.' That kind of story is more common than it isn't. What comes out of it is often where 'there is a project I wanted to get on, but I didn't know how to get on it. Now, the guy who runs it is the shot caller on my League of Legends team, and now we're friends, and now I'm on the project."
"The advantage is that people get to know each other better," Brad continued. "If you believe communication is good in company culture, then surely you believe people who are friends and know each other better communicate better then the CEA is a benefit for your company culture."
Bettering the communication level of your company is not the only thing that the CEA helps with when it comes to the companies that field teams in its competitions. Recruitment is a significant area that companies see a benefit in when they are involved with the CEA, as talented individuals become aware of companies that they may not have ever known about if they had been involved with the official CEA competition.
According to the official CEA website, the organization runs "corporate tournaments and collegiate competitions that generate funds for charities, students, or other underrepresented groups." The Championship Series is the CEA's main tournament and sees companies form teams of their employees and choose a charity to compete for when they hit the virtual world. Each week teams are paired against teams from other companies with 100% of the registration fees going to the winner's charity of choice.
(photo courtesy of CEA)
"We made the original After Hours Gaming League, and the discussion there was that we are all working professionals, and we don't need this money," said Brad when speaking on how the charitable aspect of the CEA came into being. We decided why don't we give it to charity. It's a good thing to play for, and the winner decides where all of the money goes. It's just a good thing to do."
The prize pool continued to get bigger," Brad Teneholtz continued. "We started to see how simultaneously awesome and just so saddening it is what five digits worth of money can do to change someone's life, and when we saw that it made a really profound impact on us. We realized that not only had we made the right decision but that this needs to become a core value for us. From that moment forward early on in the After Hours Gaming League, which was our predecessor organization and now in the CEA that charitable contribution has become a really big component of what we do because we never want to take away that part of our business."
Networking is a core aspect of advancing in a career field, especially for college students who are just beginning their careers. However, it can be difficult for college students and graduates to make strong connections with individuals who are working at the companies they dream of working within. This is where the CEA has come into play when it comes to helping college students and graduates connect with professionals in an environment where true and powerful bonds can be formed. This has led to college students learning more about their dream jobs at some of the prestigious companies that field teams in the CEA from the people who are working them. This is thanks to the CEA Collegiate Series, which was introduced in 2020 and kicked off with a $27,000 plus scholarship Starcraft tournament.
"People are making friends, and they are also talking pretty in-depth about what careers look like at these various places. The companies that have really embraced this have done really well. There are students who will get jobs because of the collegiate series," Brad Teneholtz told Prima Games.
There is no doubt that the CEA has revolutionized the softball league team concept of corporate culture for the esports industry in a way that helps colleagues and aspiring professionals develop incredible bonds that will change their lives. Not to mention, they can play for worthwhile efforts through the organization's charitable initiatives that help make the world a better place every time a champion is crowned.
Those looking for a more in-depth insight when it comes to the esports culture inside of Microsoft will be able to this upcoming Saturday, June 6th at 1 PM PST via Twitch and Mixer. The likes of Brad Tenenholtz and other high-profile names in the esports industry will be giving viewers a deep dive into the developing esports world within one of the industry's biggest brands.