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Welcome to The Bag.

Every week, I will graciously answer your questions about everything in the esports and gaming world. From the highbrow to the gutter, I will make sure to give you my honest, unfiltered opinion sponsored by absolutely nobody (yet).

Without further ado, let’s dive into the bag and see what we can pull out.

I’m currently a Junior taking up Journalism. At first, I wanted to cover traditional sports but lately, I have been leaning towards eSports. How did you get in the industry? Any advice for an aspiring eSports journalist? Been a fan for a long time and one of my idols in the industry. Thanks! — Anonymous

I got into esports writing over a decade ago at this point (dear god, I’m old) when I came across the magic that was StarCraft: Brood War. Before Team Liquid was a multi-million dollar esports empire, it was a simple fansite dedicated to all things StarCraft. Around the time Brood War’s successor, Starcraft II, was released, I was a simple teenager with few prospects in my life.

When I started writing about StarCraft for Team Liquid, I wasn’t even a staff member. I’d post my ramblings on the general message board in an attempt to get people excited about the narratives that no one was talking about in the community. There were these Herculean stories no one was talking about, and I wanted to share my excitement with others. Funnily enough, current LCK commentator and longtime South Korean esports voice Wolf “Wolf” Schröder posted in the first esports article I ever published, urging me to do more.

If you want to get into esports, especially content, I’d advise two things:

1) As you did here, put yourself out there and make connections. Is there an esports club at your college? Is there a video game community near you? Any tournaments? Go to them. Make friends. Have fun. If you start meeting people in the industry and become a familiar face in your local scene, opportunities will more often than not appear for you.

2) Just do it. I know it’s a cliche line trademarked by Nike, but it really is the truth in esports. We live in a world now where you have multimedia platforms of all kinds to showcase your features, art, podcasts, whatever your craft is in the creative world. When people look to hire freelancers in the industry, having experience and a portfolio to show is essential. It is impressive to have a degree and prove that you can complete university, but a lot of times, it’s more important to show that you can accomplish what they’re looking for and have a natural passion for it.

We’ve picked up freelancers and even full-timers from the work they’ve done to put themselves out there, have a portfolio of work, and love sharing their creativity with our viewership.

I got this question about six times already in my submissions, so I’ll leave this question with something I’ve preached since the first day I started working in esports.

If you’re not having fun creating something, it’s likely that the person reading, listening or watching it won’t be happy either.

But if you’re excited about making what you love and want to share your passion with others, that will translate to the person consuming your content.

Good luck!

How much of this is because of Bill Simmons? — Aaron

Oh, all of it. Piggybacking off the first question, my inspiration as a teenager was Bill Simmons and his columns at ESPN. After reading his weekly mailbag segments, I daydreamed about working with him at that company. Funnily enough, I was hired full-time by ESPN in 2016, about three or four months after Simmons left the company.

Even my Twitter name, The Esports Writer, is a play off of his self-proclaimed The Sports Guy moniker.

Tyler1 was playing LCS no other region could compete with him — “LCS Eevee”

This isn’t really a question, but as I talked about in the debut episode of this column, I think Tyler is an excellent League of Legends player and admire his absolute confidence in himself, regardless of the situation. It’s one of the reasons why I’m such a fan of Evil Geniuses’ new wunderkind Joseph “jojopyun” Joon Pyun.

I love a player who doesn’t knock at the door and instead proceeds to kick it down. Although we won’t know for a while if he can live up to almost impossible expectations or becomes another name in the long list of North American-born mid laners to lose their starting job, he has an edge to him. From his playstyle to his personality, there’s a belief in himself that makes him maybe the most interesting young player to watch in any region this spring.

I genuinely believe NA has a chance at winning worlds in the next 5 years. I think the increased competition with teams like TL and 100T and growing stars like Spica and Danny in addition to the new super server and increased practice efficiency the region is in it’s best place in recent memory. How is your hopeium outlook looking these days? — “FillemoreFlower”

It’s OK to believe, my friend. There’s a greater chance than not that in five years, the LCS still doesn’t have a Summoner’s Cup in its trophy cupboard — the same can be said about Europe, as well — but with the money combined with better scouting from the likes of EG and 100 Thieves, a one-off isn’t impossible in my opinion.

Five years ago, LCS teams would import players without any foundation to make their transition smooth and pack five teenagers into two cramped rooms, believing that was the secret sauce to winning trophies. LCS franchises have become more competent, but alas, China’s development system, Europe’s regional leagues and South Korea’s investments into League of Legends still put them a fair bit ahead of NA.

But that doesn’t mean a Team Liquid or EG couldn’t pull off an improbable run to the World finals. C9 almost did it in 2018, and once you’re in a final, it’s a single best-of-five to determine a champion.

For this year, the 2022 League of Legends World Championship in NA, I think the goal for the region should be to get one team back into the semifinals. If that happens, I’ll feel satisfied and, along with things like Champions Queue, could stir some interest back into the game in a region ruled by console gaming.

Who is the best young North American VALORANT player right now? — “Vlion23”

I am a massive fan of XSET’s new duelist duo of Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban and Zachary “zekken” Patrone in terms of carrying from the front. Although not a super exciting answer, if we’re talking about all-around, it has to be Alexander “Zander” Dituri. Anytime a rookie player can play with such self-confidence, and at the in-game leader role, it’s stupid not to bet on them.

Trent “trent” Cairns also came out of relative nowhere in the most-recent North America VALORANT Champions Tour qualifier to impress me. VALORANT is such a popular game in North America, and so many young players put down the shovels in Fortnite to play it that the answer to this question will probably be wildly different in six months.

Is Faker the greatest esports player ever? — Anonymous

Let’s end this on a tough one. When I first got this question in my mailbox a few days ago, my first reaction was to harken back to when I was a teenager watching Brood War legends player in the middle of the night.

Lee “Flash” Young-ho is my icon. I grew up from a distance watching him before I made esports was my career, turning the most demanding competitive game in history and making it look like he was playing some sort of children’s toy.

But, as I thought about it more, and even if I want to call Flash the best esports player ever, Blizzard railroaded Brood War before he could transcend internationally as Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok did with League of Legends. I’ve seen fans in Brazil jump from 15-foot barricades to try and touch Faker. I was in China, and there were 50 or so fans who trailed Faker’s team bus to his hotel in hopes of getting a photo of him walking into an elevator.

We are closing in on a decade of Faker’s pro career, and the man is still at the top of the game, transitioning gracefully from mechanical monster to willy, grizzled veteran. Right now, there’s a good argument that he is the best mid laner in South Korea, with names like Heo “ShowMaker” Su and Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon.

For his longevity, adaptation to his playstyle and his overall impact to esports as a whole, the answer can’t be anyone but Faker.