Danish esports organisation Team Singularity launched its own talent academy in December alongside machine-learning platform Pluck GG. In less than a month, the academy has attracted over 3,000 members that are actively pursuing careers in esports.
We sat down with the founders of Team Singularity and Pluck GG who shared the origins of the Team Singularity Academy, how AI can move the industry forward, and what’s next for gaming hopefuls.
Skills before popularity
Team Singularity Founder and CEO Atle S. Stehouwer tells Esports Insider that scouting and developing talent is in the organisation’s DNA. After various academy structures since the team’s launch in 2016, including a previous collaboration with Pluck GG, he believes they have finally “cracked the code.”
“This new academy structure gives mechanically skilled players a clear path from joining the academy to them getting a professional contract, if the player can complete the 40 listed missions on their academy development journey,” said Stehouwer. “I believe most aspiring mechanical talents are looking for possibilities to grind their way to a professional contract, but without having the desired social media presence it can be really hard to engage into a contract negotiation with an organisation.”
This format has proven attractive to aspiring gamers, to the tune of over 100 new sign-ups a day, over 3,000 members, and more than 800 players participating in daily internal tournaments.
Erik Lydecker, Founder and CEO of Pluck GG notes that machine learning is still in its embryonic stage, as is the esports industry, but that its role will become more important in the coming years.
“In general, we believe that machine learning will fit into esports just like it does in traditional sports such as baseball, football, and others once top-performing talents become the most valued commodity, not ‘social media clowns’ as it is today,” says Lydecker. “We know for a fact, that there will come a time when esports organisations will not survive without access to big data analytics and machine-learning services.”
Creating (and sharing) the path to pro
Signing up to the Team Singularity Esports Academy takes about two minutes. From there, data tracking is automated so players can focus on their gameplay.
Pluck GG creates metrics such as ‘gaming quality’, which tracks stats like win rate and average placement; ‘gaming execution’, which tracks things like total matches played and total wins; ‘ranked rate’, which weights matches played in ‘ranked’ playlists higher than standard public matches; and more. All of this is taken into account to place you into a division — 1 being the highest, 12 being the lowest.
Getting started takes a few moments, but it took a good two years for the academy to come to fruition. Pluck GG creates custom interfaces depending on a client’s needs that range from community engagement to data analysis. Pluck’s Lydecker says they wanted to create something unique and effective for Team Singularity that all players could benefit from.
“In terms of the academy user interface and experience, we conducted user-research programmes for more than two years in order to understand what players and teams want to have in a digital/online academy platform, and this resulted in various academy-relevant services such as missions, schedules, live coaching sessions, content library, journaling, competitive events, and more,” Lydecker said.
The academy gives Team Singularity a chance to discover new talent, but Stehouwer doesn’t want the org to keep all the benefits to itself.
“Being a part of the academy programme doesn’t limit you to only Team Singularity,” Stehouwer said. “Academy players are welcome to be part of the programme, and have access to all the exclusive game data we feature while representing another team at the same time.”
Looking to the future
Team Singularity Esports Academy launched exclusively to Fortnite players, but FIFA and CS:GO should be available on the platform in February and March, respectively.
“We launched our first subscription option in mid-January for pre-sign ups and are fully launching our subscription options in February,” said Stehouwer. “The subscription options focus on educational services and provide extra help on the academy player journey towards a professional contract.”
In the near future, Lydecker predicts, esports organisations will not be able to buy players off the top of the leaderboards, but will need to recruit promising young talent as in traditional sports. Finding them early will also prevent transfer fees, should players already be on a team.
“Promising young talents need to be found and nurtured early in order to grow into professional players,” says Lydecker, “and the reason why no one seems to find these young promising players is primarily that there has been no logical platform for them to be found and nurtured before.”
A Viking tradition
“We love the fact that [Team Singularity] is based in our beloved neighbouring country, Denmark,” said Lydecker. “We don’t speak the same language, but we are both Vikings and the Vikings are known for their ability to build strong global connections by sailing all over the world before anyone else did.”
Stehouwer added: “There’s a long roadmap created around the academy and I’m looking forward to sharing more of some of the initiatives to come later this year and next.”