ProGamer mostly can’t communicate before the competition ends. The content ‘In the skin’ allow an athlete to share some of his secret and decisive moments that make the success of their plans.
Jordan “Next” Savelli, who performs this role so special for many years, gives us the keys to undestand what a manager is but also what he would become. (Thanks to Vakarm for their pictures).
I always believed in the rise of eSport and especially on the games Counter Strike. For my family and friends, it took more time.
A victory at ESWC* with the girl team 3DMax brought me my first international victory, but mostly the pride of my parents. Broadcasting in french cinemas of the Esl One Cologne 2015** Grand Final with my team EnVyUs definitely convince my friends of the serious of my job.
*World Championship during the Paris Games Week
** One of the most important competition in CS: GO.
I don’t know if I was destined to lead a group of people. Younger, I practiced different sports but individual ones, like sailing or MMA. I wasn’t a natural born leader.
MORE USEFUL AS A MANAGER THAN AS A PLAYER
I discovered the universe of Counter Strike in middle school. We quickly made a team with some friends and like most of the gamers back then we were hanging out in Internet Cafe or in ClanCalendar.
It was in a new team called K-Othic that I figured out that my future as a player wasn’t going to be long. One night, I wasn’t able to play so my team demolished one of the best team in our league with a stand-in. I had a 2 revelations: My skills will never allow us to win at higher levels and I wanted to discover a new face of the game, the job of manager. Staying hours to play wasn’t the thing I loved the most. I instantly loved to have some pieces to build something good like Legos to actually build the best team I could.
After I rose with K-Othic, I found the courage to create my own structure. A first step not so successful but it allowed me to meet the manager of Dimension 4, Diums. We had a good feeling and he is the one who allowed me to lead my first ‘real’ team.
It was a period of learning for me when I tried to focus on the working of the team only on the aspect of communication. I always let the technical part on the players’ hands because they are always more skilled in that. I also started to care about the schedule of the team, to find the perfect timing for training or to organize the presence on live events.
BEING THE MANAGER OF WOMEN’S TEAMS, AN OBLIGATORY STEP
After I managed a new project on which there were some known names like Binet or kTN, I had the envy to discover something else by taking care of a woman team under the name of Antec. I had to make a different approach from the management because I couldn’t fall in the trap of being too close to them. The girls told me that some old managers tried to flirt some of the players and it brought a lot of tension. So I treated them like boy players. They taught me to handle my feelings. Because there was such a high rivalry in the women scene, and some strong personalities and mostly peevishness.
Then happened my last Source project, with Crystal Sery and the line-up Binet, kTN, Poireau, Maniac and Cyrilspwr. It was a really good team even without being a top french team but we achieved a few performances like our victory against Mousesports. I’ve also been able to make some Antecs girls enter in Crystal Serv.
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But the release of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is going to beat our teams. Between schedule issues and some players who didn’t want to go further in another game. It’s at this moment that the first dilemma of my career happened. 3DMax offered me to manage the whole CS part (boy and girl teams), but I also had the opportunity to be a part of the first french shuffle between LDLC and Titan. I finally got on the bench for MoMaN, even if I don’t regret this choice I would have loved to win the first french major.
I also lived my first big wins in international events with 3DMax (especially with girls: Cla, aLx, Nasty, ame and Cerizz). We won the ESWC where I met an incredible coach (Lambert) and a positive feeling from the players. Before that, I had the feeling that a manager could be easily replaceable.
It’s at this moment that I had more ambition, I wanted to be on a higher level.
ENVYUS, MY CAREER’S HIGHLIGHT AS A MANAGER
Right after their Major win, the LDLCs players received a proposition from EnVyUs organisation. MoMaN didn’t want to follow them because he was great on his structure, that’s why NBK contacted me. I know Nathan for a long time and we always had a good feeling on every LAN we talked.
This is the moment I turned really professional, letting everything I had outside CS. It was a risk to take with this first contract for one year, but I wanted to see where this project could bring me.
For the first 2 years, I lived a lot of success, especially this victory at the Cluj Major. I also created the Academy team in 2017 where talents rose like hAdji or JACKZ who plays for 3DMAX.
Then came the shuffle to create the ‘Super Team’. A weird episode because it’s was led by players and not the teams and where NBK, shox, apEX, bodyy and kennyS hesitated between Niak* and me to manage the structure they will choose between G2 and EnVyUs. As you know, my players didn’t stay and chose to be in Jerôme’s team in the spanish organisation.
*Jérôme Sudries, actual manager of G2.
After, we never found the level of performance we had with EnVy v1&2 but I appreciated some human relations. I discovered the kindest french player of the whole scene, RpK.
LEARNED TO BE A MANAGER IN THE FIELD
I grew up as a manager when eSport was getting professional. When I started, no one had a formation and my natural curiosity that made me who I am nowadays.
This opening of minds taught me to have a certain pedagogy with young players who never knew the world of work and they had issues around schedule and some obligations linked to the structure.
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Next, I developed my human skills by myself but mostly by reading a lot of books on the subject. For apart more specific like the law and the jurisdiction, I learned that by myself because I wanted to own a society since I’m 18 and I was so close to buy a printing house just before I got in EnVy.
The mastering of english is something essential in the universe of CS: GO. My english got better by himself. My high school english teacher taught me the basics, I developed by listening to music and translate them (same with series) and my english got better when I met foreign players/managers during LANs.
Lots of people helped me during my career, like Nathan with my first contacts in english with organisers of competitions, or the manager of Dimension4 who showed me his job at the beginning of my career. Also thinking of MoMaN who gave me some contacts and what to say to them, Devilwalk from fnatic who allowed me to understand the basics easily. Jerôme reassured me at a moment when I doubted about the role of manager that we have a big impact in positive and negative moments.
WHAT’S THE JOB OF MANAGER IN CS : GO
If I had to resume my job in a few words?
The manager is the guy who has to be methodical instead of the players, close to them to understand and hear what they have to say. But also to put barriers to their own good.
He is the link between the structure and the players.
With time, my missions didn’t change. It just evolved, logistic, organisation of the travelling, manage the schedule (tournaments, training, vacations before the regulation of WESA), press, manage the structure…
There is also the human part by giving advice and my point of view on their communications and the influence of the communication in their victories and defeats. Of course, we have to be here in the conflicts, to manage them. We need to have this filter to avoid bigger problems. Maybe I tried to avoid conflicts maybe too much when it was the right solution.
This questioning on our role has to be permanent.
THE MANAGEMENT OF EGOS, THE KEY TO SUCCESS
In France, the hardest mission is the management of egos. We are known for that, and might be linked to a french spirit to never be satisfied of a situation and always want more. The manager has to put his ego aside because he has to be the strongest person on the team.
Most of our players are concerned, like shox, NBK, apEX, ScreaM and even Happy in his way. If ego isn’t just a french thing, foreign players are mostly able to put it aside to play with people they don’t like. This war of egos is the reason G2 blown up.
On my side, I prefer the team cohesion, trying to have a lot of human links between players to be able to go through defeat periods.
Other countries may have their negative specificities, thinking of Ukraine and their impulsive players.
Another essential point is the management of salaries and jealousies between players. I had some huge difference of salaries (x4) in the same team and it is almost impossible to handle. And the explosion of salaries in some teams can clearly work on the motivation, cash prizes are just a secondary way to be paid so players lose a lot of motivation because they are paid even if they lose.
I don’t think we have to back to the past but maybe we have to insist on a reward of results, to take more space in the salaries. This is a method we put in EnVy with bigger or lower rewards depending on our HLTV ranking.
THE FONCTIONNEMENT OF TEAMS SHOULD CHANGE
Even if the structure has the possibility to kick every element, nowadays we are in an eSport dominated by the players. For example: managers are dependent on the players about their salaries, it restrained our independence, I don’t think that the decision of the downside is optimal, for the structure and also for the player.
We have to inspire from sport to put managers, coach, analysts for a long time.
I also have some ideas where the duo/trio (we can take the example of Niak and Ex6TenZ) would be paid by other players who would have to believe in this project. We can also think about a structure owned by the players, where the manager would have to search sponsors to ensure continual salaries to the players and where everyone owns a part of the team. In the case where they want to kick someone, they just have to buy him his part.
In every case, actual structures should make strong choices by putting their trust in the hands of the manager. Especially when the phases of creation/modification happens, we have to say no to a star player who doesn’t want to work with a certain manager.
We don’t have to look too far to see that other eSports made those choices: I’m thinking about Overwatch League which is very well managed.
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THE REAL PROFESSIONALISATION OF THE PLAYERS WOULD GO THROUGH THE PROFESSIONALISATION OF THE STRUCTURE
We also have to evolve in our way of how to plan the daily fonctionnement of the team. I will probably make some people angry but everyone has to go out of his comfort zone of staying in his choice town.
The solution isn’t the Gaming House we tried in Nice with EnVy, it’s not adapted to CS: GO players. We should see how others are doing where some teams have a common office in a determined town and work schedule.
EnVy tried to offer it to the players but in Charlotte, USA. Beyond the change of the league, it was actually tough for a personnal aspect to leave our lives to go to the States. I also tried to make it happen in Nice and most of the playerd were okay with that but the structure deleted our team and killed that project.
The interest is not only in the professionalisation of the players and the links between them but also it’s positive for the structure that will be able to make content easily and work easily on their merchandising. This is one the biggest axis of development in eSport for the next years.
The structures have to reinforce by collaborating with specialists who know the world of eSport allowing the manager to simply be the manager. For me, the ideal structure would be with a duo manager/coach (to assure the in-game aspect) and would be filled by an analyst, mental/physical preparators. Those two should not be necessarily employees of the structure but can be available for the players.
The mental preparation is fundamental, this is put aside way too often in our environment. I think the practice of sports even if not intense can bring a little more, especially to be more calm and relax in front of the PC.
MY FUTURE IS AROUND ESPORT BUT MAYBE NOT CS : GO
I don’t know what my future is made of but I’m someone who loved challenges and I feel like I did everything I could in EnVy. In the future, if I’m not in the CS team it wouldn’t be a problem. I will be back on my favourite game only if there is a different role for me like eSport director or if the management of the teams changes.
Today, EnVy doesn’t want to get me in USA because they need me to manage every other teams in Europe. It’s flattering for me but I will need ambitious projects because I’m a lover of work.
Be able to live my passion is a real luxury and I thank every day of my life to give me this amazing opportunity.