Walt Wang ’12, a Harvard-Westlake (HW) alumni who works for the esports company TSM, spoke about his experiences at an after school event on Nov. 1. The event was organized by the HW Middle School club HW Venture on Nov. 1 in the HW Middle School Library Reference Room.
Esports is a form of competition using video games where players play games like a sport. During the event, he explained how TSM’s business makes money and the ecosystem of the gaming industry.
“Esports has changed a lot of the course of my life and working career,” Wang said.
He says that esports began in the ’90s, fueled by the games Starcraft and MLG. The sport then died out until League of Legends and live streaming.
“League of Legends pioneered the Free to Play model which enabled millions of people to be exposed to the game,” Wang said. “Live streaming, on the other hand, enabled esports to become much more accessible and much more popular.”
Wang believes that esports are transforming to become a sustainable business, with infrastructure such as franchising leagues and media rights.
Another trend in the video game industry is that more females are becoming interested in esports. Recently, Xiaomeng “VKLiooon” Li won the Hearthstone Global Games tournament at BlizzCon, an annual gaming convention held by Blizzard Entertainment, a video game developer and publisher. This accomplishment makes her the first woman to win a tournament at BlizzCon.
“Historically, the video game industry as a whole has skewed males and as a result esports also skews males,” Wang said. “If you look at a lot of the industry reports from big consulting firms or investment banks you will find that 80-90% of the viewership of esports is male.”
TSM is working on bringing in more female players.
“We have had multiple conversations about it and are actively scouting talent as we speak,” Wang said.
While the esports industry has grown and changed, there are still people who don’t know much about it. Sophia Rascoff ’23, one of the members of HW Venture who helped organize the event, said that she didn’t know much about esports before organizing the event.
“I was aware that there was a competitive gaming industry, but I had no idea nearly how large it was,” Rascoff said.
She and the other members of HW Venture decided to invite Wang because of the large interest in gaming at HW.
“I think this talk inspired people and showed them that there really is an industry in whatever they’re interested in,” Rascoff said.
Wang recommends for students who are interested in gaming to look into organized competition.
“Building a club, managing a team, playing/strategizing with others to compete is much more interesting and better than grinding solo at home,” he said.
At the event, Wang also discussed building a new facility for TSM. He showed visuals of a completed facility, which will be the largest in North America.
“TSM has always been a team of firsts whether it be placing first in competitions or being the first to accelerate the growth and professionalism of the industry.” Wang said. “The training facility is a part of that identity in which we want to provide the best equipment and facilities to train our players.”
Wang is taking the lead on this building initiative. He says the skill of time management he learned at HW has been important in his career. “Being able to manage multiple work flows and projects while balancing your own personal life is one of the hardest things to do,” Wang said. “At HW, I got practice in this as I had to manage sports, school, extra curriculars, family, and my own personal hobbies.”