The Excitement Of Esports Startups


The world of esports is growing quickly; college programs for esports are popping up all over the place and companies are pumping money into tournaments, events and broadcasting efforts. It’s an exciting time to be a competitive gamer.

But even moreso, it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur in esports…provided you know how to maneuver this constantly changing industry.

Chris “Lama” Lamarucciola is the CEO and founder of Shattered Dreams Esports (SxD,) an esports organization that has competitors in multiple games, as well as streamers and content creators on their roster. Lama also started up the Northern Esports Academy (NEA,) a Greater Toronto Area-based company that offers extensive training and development programs that provide in-game as well as career building skills in esports. He’s also recently begun working as a vice president of business development for Amuka Esports, a company that offers localized esports hubs as well as Twitch and YouTube content.

A man with many hats, Lama uses his background in sports and marketing to fuel his work in esports. His motto is simple: “Get shit done.”

Chris Lama, CEO of SxD. Photo Credit: Organized Gaming

With both SxD and NEA, Lama wants to provide a foundation for everyone who comes through these organisations to strengthen themselves for a career in esports, in whatever way that may manifest.

“There’s so many opportunities and people don’t realize that.” Lama told ggn00b in an interview, in regards to career prospects in esports. “Everyone starts out wanting to be a pro player.”

It’s common for players to grow out of their competitive phase, and it’s here where a project such as NEA can point to streaming, casting, production and much more as alternatives to just esports competition. But more than that, Lama and his team provide expert guidance by getting players to ask themselves the right questions to set themselves up for success.

“How do you build your stream up? How do you build your brand? What is your brand? What do you want it to look like, feel like, smell like?” are some of the many questions Lama gets players to think about. Even simple concepts such as making sure your social media handles are consistent are covered in the programs that NEA offers. The staff covers everything from marketing, coaching, mental performance and more to make sure players are as well-equipped as possible for the industry.

Merchandise courtesy of Shattered Dreams Esports

Many of these same values find themselves in Lama’s esports team SxD. The focus for SxD is unlike other startup esports organisations in that their approach is about development and team culture. Their roster brings in results, both in tournament wins as well as YouTube and Twitch viewership, but the priority is creating an environment for players to connect and grow.

In fact, Lama isn’t above letting players off their contracts if a great opportunity comes their way.

“One [of our] players won Rising Stars at EGLX. He’ll be signing a contract with either Enthusiast Gaming or Luminosity Gaming at some point.”

But this option was only available to players who weren’t already contracted with organisations. So Lama temporarily released players who competed at EGLX from their SxD contracts in the chance that if one of his players got the opportunity, they could seize it. It’s these kinds of acts—putting the players above all else—that defines SxD as an organisation that commands respect.

The logo for Shattered Dreams Esports

Lama says that when players are looking to get signed with an esports team, the thing he’s looking for is simple: a good pitch. And one that showcases the person rather than how great they are at any particular game.

“If you open on Twitter and just say ‘Hi’ or ‘I’m really good at this game, check out this clip’ I’m probably not gonna look past that. I wanna know about you, I wanna know what you want, I wanna know what your goals are.”

“Culture is huge.”

Business has slowed down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still opportunities in the esports world, and there are plenty of consumers looking for content; something that Lama’s organisations can offer. It might be tougher to secure sponsorships and advertisers, but Lama continues to grind both locally and online to grow his projects. Before long, we might see players leave their teams for a shot at joining Shattered Dreams.

Chris Lama is the CEO and founder of both Shattered Dreams Esports and Northern Esports Academy. You can find him on Twitter and Twitch.

You can watch the full two-hour interview with Chris Lama here.