A Ponoka native is going into professional online gaming full-time, but not in the traditional way one may think.
Jesse Chick was born and raised in Ponoka, graduating in 2017 from Ponoka Secondary Campus and has completed three years of a degree in statistics at the University of Alberta. However, that fourth year is going to be done online over the next two years so Chick can focus his attention on his other career — a full time online gaming analyst.
“For a bit of context to those that are new to this, Esports is high-level competitive gaming, usually played in one location on a stage in front of an audience. Less important matches are often played from home with broadcast talent working out of a studio,” Chick said in an email interview.
“Low level leagues are often played entirely online and broadcast by talent working at home, with players and talent not making a salary or even little to no money at all.
“However, at the highest level, broadcast talent can make good money and players are on a salary with the potential to win millions.”
Chick made the switch to a full-time broadcaster in June, a plan that has been in the works for about five years. He got involved in Esports for the first time by playing competitively in a multi-player first person shooter game called Team Fortress 2.
“I joined my first competitive team when I was 16, and started commentating over some of our matches for practice. At 17, I was accepted to work for TeamFortress.tv, the premier broadcasting organization for Europe and North America at the time,” Chick said.
“By the time I was 18, it was clear that the game was dying as an Esport. There were so many higher up people leaving, it meant I was able to become the head of North American coverage and help organize the segments we were putting out.”
Chick would soon become a wanted talent, covering large international tournaments for Insomnia 61 and Rewind II held respectively in the United Kingdom and California, then leaving Team Fortress 2 to further his career.
“I decided there was nothing left to accomplish in Team Fortress 2,” he said.
“Last year, I was given the opportunity to cover the North American Challenger League — a feeder for the highest league in North America; the two-month long stage Canadian Nationals held in Montreal and Toronto and the Dreamhack Montreal open tournament, but today I’m covering Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege (R6) full-time.”
He added a recent North American League (NAL) R6 regular season broadcast peaked just below 20,00o live concurrent viewers, while more than 300,000 tuned into the R6 Invitational in February and the 2019 League of Legends World Championship peaked at about 3.9 million viewers.
“It took a long time for me to think going full-time was realistic. Everything I did before the Canadian Nationals and Dreamhack Montreal was talking into a mic from my bedroom, for free or paid next-to-nothing,” Chick said.
“When I was asked to move to Montreal for two months, that I would be working with some of the best talent I had been watching for years and that they would be paying me — that’s when I thought ‘Wow, this is actually a realistic career path.’”
Having committed to the NAL as a full time analyst, with the best U.S. and Canadian teams competing, means a year-round paycheque instead of a few decent paydays from a few tournaments.
“That wasn’t enough to commit, so now I’m finally able to make that jump,” he said.
“This year, each region is getting their own broadcast teams. Previously, the English broadcasts were all done by talent from Poland, but 2020 has seen it take major steps forward with a drastic expansion of teams in all regions.”
R6 was created in Montreal by Ubisoft, released in 2015 and competed online right away. It now has more than 60 million players.
Chick explained his broadcast team has a stage host that controls the crowd and interviews players, two game analysts to provide pre and post game insights along with breaking down match-ups, two pairs of play-by-play broadcasters and a desk host that leads the conversations with both the analysts and the play-by-play pairings.
“What I’m excited for is, when the COVID-19 pandemic is over and the broadcast can reach its full potential,” he said, adding that once that happens he will be moving to Los Angeles in order to work with the rest of the broadcast crew.
“The NAL is supposed to be a fully off-line league with players and talent based out of Las Vegas. Of course with the global situation, everything is being done from home. This means I’ve been shipped lights, headsets, and a huge backdrop to recreate a studio-like setting from home. Things are going to get so much easier once I can work with everyone in person I’m sure.”
For now though, Chick will be conducting his analysis from home until the situation calms considerably in the U.S. and non-essential travel restrictions are lessened.
However, even with scaling back the broadcasts, Chick is extremely grateful that the games can continue.
“That’s the nice thing about Esports. There’s no reason to fully cancel the league, since everything can be done from home,” he said.
“Like most people, I’m a huge hockey fan and I love watching competition and sports is obviously a big part of that. But with all sports having to shut down, I think it is a great opportunity for people to check out Esports as a way to scratch that competitive itch.
“The competitive players that play at the highest level take their jobs just as seriously as the guys playing in the NHL or the NFL. And, Esports offers a ton of exciting moments and deep strategies that sports fans love.”
For anyone that wants to take or participate in the action while also taking a listen to Chick’s analysis, the NAL broadcasts run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting at 4 p.m. Mountain Time — available by going to www.twitch.tv and search rainbow6.
You can also touch base with Chick on Twitter @JesseChick.