Patrick Carney, otherwise known as “Chief Pat“, made his name as a content creator, primarily on YouTube, uploading videos about mobile games starting 2012. After building his own personal brand he took the leap and started an esports organisation focused solely on mobile esports, Tribe Gaming.
Tribe is one of the eight North American teams involved in the inaugural Clash Royale League. Ahead of the premiere of the league, we had the chance to chat with Carney about the development of Tribe Gaming and the future of mobile esports.
Esports Insider: When you started as a content creator why did you decide to focus on mobile games?
Patrick Carney: I just found a game I fell in love with, Clash of Clans.
I had experience playing other games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty but I always had an affinity for different mobile games. There wasn’t one that had the depth to not only peak my interest but also support a community online.
I was procrastinating for an accounting exam and I went to the strategy section in the App Store and I saw it. At the time it was so new they only had around 5000 likes on Facebook. So I played 15 minutes and told my friends it’s gonna be the best game ever. I naturally fell in love with the game and started posting videos. Back then, recording videos on mobile were so janky. I had to sit on top of my laundry room in my dorm to get strong enough WiFi just to mirror it. My roommate was so loud I would record my voice-overs in my car. [laughs] Mobile games, in general, have definitely evolved since then!
ESI: If you had such success as a content creator why expand to creating an esports organisation?
Pat: I’ve always been passionate about esports, which sounds really generic, but in 2014/2015 I was in negotiations with a team to buy their League of Legends spot. Then I sort of took a step back and thought ‘What am I doing? My brand is all in mobile games, why am I going to buy a League of Legends team?’.
So I waited in the mobile space for not only esports to develop but for mobile games to develop so that I could support esports as well. Eventually, in 2017 Vainglory started a franchise program. With a long-term relationship with them, they extended the right opportunity to start up my esports organisation and it just made perfect sense.
“I think in the West there’s much more of a stigma around mobile gaming.”
Now we’re here today not only with the [Clash Royale] League but with a number of other titles that are starting to blossom on mobile that has made this into a pretty exciting space to be in. I think The Clash Royale league is really going to set the standard going forward.
ESI: Mobile esports is must more popular in the East compare to the West. How difficult has it been trying to build up this community around mobile gaming?
Pat: It’s crazy when you see the events like Honor Kings in China, but that’s what we strive for over here. Right now we’re taking a pragmatic approach to what the growth curve is going to be. I think in the West there’s much more of a stigma around mobile gaming which was the same stigma I fought through as a creator when I started. I think with esports there is a parallel to the same growth that happened for content consumption on mobile: You have a game with a very high skill cap, it’s very easy to start watching and you’ve got a massive player base. There’s the recipe in place for this game to have success as an esport title.
“A lot of these guys are 18/19 years old that have never been to college or away from home so this is like their college experience.”
ESI: In this league, you’re dealing with a lot of young players. What will you take from your experience to help groom them?
Pat: That’s actually something I think about a lot, which is really neat for me. A lot of these guys are 18/19 years old that have never been to college or away from home so this is like their college experience. They have good friends that they’ve made in Clash Royale online that they’ve never really had a chance to meet too much in person besides during tournaments. This is like them going to college except they’re competing in esports for hundreds of thousands of dollars which is really neat.
At 25 I’m like the dad [laughs] which is such a positive thing for these young men. We’re supporting these guys through everything as they develop into young men. It’s been cool for us to help them build their own brand as well because that’s what gives them long-term sustainability; through content creation. Obviously, with my background as a YouTuber and influencer, we can help them build it up themselves which is something I’ve been really passionate about.
ESI: How well do you play against your own players?
Pat: So I can play decently well, but it depends [laughs]. I played in a competition recently in April and it was a best of three and I won my first match against a player that’s now playing for Team Liquid and then I lost my next two. So I can win a game here or there but that’s why they do best of threes and best of fives so idiots like me don’t end up winning matches. I would say I’ve played 10,000 matches and I’m a top 1% player without a doubt. But these players are a top .0001% and they’re really awesome. A lot of moves they make I can’t even comprehend. I just have to pray I have a favourable match-up.
ESI: In Tribe, you also have teams in Fortnite Mobile and Vainglory. Are you looking at any other mobile games to get involved in?
Pat: We have some other titles we’re looking at. There are games that have been out there for a while like Arena of Valor which is wrapping up their season right now. There’s also PUBG mobile which is new and exciting with a lot of buzz in the mobile content space. There are a few others that we want to be on the ground floor of as we look to expand going forward. It’s definitely a really good time for expansion for us. The last couple of weeks have been really big for us as we just signed our first flagship sponsor with Razer, our Clash team house, and expanding to Fortnite Mobile. We probably have two other things that are happening and we made a new hire internally so it’s been a really fun ascension for us. We definitely want to scale aggressively with mobile and make sure we can be the leaders in the space.