Bryan Yale – GG Esports Academy – Doing things differently

Bryan Yale, GGEA
Bryan Yale, GGEA

GG Esports Academy, otherwise known as GGEA, debuted at CWL New Orleans with the aim of developing up-and-coming players in a way that’s never been done before. Represented by two teams, the organisation placed Top 17/20 with GGEA.Orange and Top 21/24 with GGEA.Blue. Since then, they’ve expanded the colour spectrum GGEA.Purple has been introduced ahead of CWL Atlanta (March 9th-11th).

GGEA has also expanded into the FCG, providing a curriculum for amateur players with hopes to transform them into budding professionals. The organisation, which is owned by Infinite Esports & Entertainment alongside OpTic Gaming and Allegiance, has big plans – but we didn’t want to just sit back and wait for what it does next, so we got in touch with GGEA President Bryan Yale.

Esports Insider: GGEA’s first event was the CWL New Orleans Open, which took place recently, do you think it was a successful outing for the organisation as a whole, and for the two individual teams that competed?

Bryan Yale: I see CWL New Orleans as extremely successful, and as a failure. From the aspect of having both teams we brought make it out of open brackets into pool play, I cannot express my pride in our staff and more importantly, our teams. I will never forget seeing both Orange and Blue on the main stage at the same time.

I also see CWL NO as a failure, as we still have both rosters in our system. Our sole focus is to develop talent to move onto the next level. If you were to ask me, “Which is more important, winning an event or a player signing to a professional organisation?” I would say it’s getting players to reach the professional level, every single time.

ESI: How will GGEA identify further players and teams that it wants to bring onboard to develop?

Bryan: This is a very difficult question to answer, as it’s constantly evolving. In the beginning, we started with recommendations and watching gameplay. This is nowhere near the level of analysis that is needed to truly scout and then develop any level of talent.

“We must be very agile and flexible to create a solution that not only fits the players we are developing, but also the ecosystem in which they are trying to become a professional”

Currently we are working hard to define the blueprint of a professional esports player. Once we have a working model, then we can further develop tools and processes to add to our system, to not only identify these characteristics but improve them in up-and-coming talent.

This process of discovery is key to the success or failure of GGEA.

ESI: You mentioned in your interview with Dexerto that GGEA will cut off the worst-performing team after each event. Do you think there’s a chance that this will harm the team’s development instead of fostering it?

Bryan: We have thought and continue to think about how to best showcase and develop gamers who are ready to make that next step. Each genre and each game has a very unique ecosystem surrounding it. As such, we must be very agile and flexible to create a solution that not only fits the players we are developing, but also the ecosystem in which they are trying to become a professional.

“We are constantly looking to provide the best resources to those in our system”

For CoD specifically, the game was extremely popular at launch, as such, we felt that cutting the lowest performing team and having them go back through the process allowed as many players as possible to get a chance at reaching the higher level. As the game’s ecosystem changes, we are always evaluating our processes to ensure we are giving the best chance to every player who deserves it.

To answer the question directly, yes, there is a chance that it would harm that team’s development. On the other hand, many more aspiring professional gamers wouldn’t even get a chance if we didn’t periodically adjust the rosters. There are positives and negatives to both ways.

ESI: Is the crossover with OpTic Gaming, such as TeeP being used by both organizations, going to grow over time or will it remain minimal?

Bryan: To clarify the role of TeeP and his involvement with GGEA; he is an outstanding resource for players, teams, or organizations to have if they want to be in CoD. His involvement with our CoD development program was one of advisement of scheduling and overall coaching points. During our boot camp, he was able to watch some scrims and provide very high-level feedback on the basics of teamplay.

We are constantly looking to provide the best resources to those in our system to give them the best opportunities to make it pro, this not limited to crossovers with OpTic. I know TeeP is focused on his coaching role with OpTic and we do not look to add any additional demands on his time and focus.

ESI: Do you envisage GGEA’s venture into Overwatch and League of Legends being similar in approach to how it got started in Call of Duty?

Bryan: Regardless of what the game is, our approach starts from a blank slate. If we ultimately treat a new game like another game in our system, so be it, but it’s not because we just copied what we did in other games.

How we handle the FGC is vastly different than how we approach CoD. I imagine any other titles will treated differently in the future, as well. Once we have determined our approach, each development system is constantly evolving. I expect that a year from now, the systems will look very different.