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Everything you need to know about academy teams in esports

The esports scene is filled with major organisations like Evil Geniuses and Cloud9 whose presence dominates multiple video game titles rather than just one. Many of these teams frequently form and disband due to technicalities in the esports scene like budget constraints and confidence from investors. 

Big esports organisations thus invest in academy teams. This opens the opportunity for young and inexperienced players to play in high-ranked competitions with financial backing. It allows them to travel to venues for important professional LAN competitions while their benefactors train them to become prospects in the world of esports. 

Academy teams basics have similar elements to professional esports with the only difference being the scope of the events where they participate. Thus, they have a lower salary and more low-stakes matches to join but they are safer investments for licensed pro players. Here’s a better rundown of what an academy team is:

The gist of what academy teams are 

Academy teams participate in esports competitions bearing a major esports team name but they do not represent the brand of their benefactors. They are considered trainees and tournaments they join are often called ‘junior divisions’ across different video games. One such example is the LCS Academy League organised by League of Legends in partnership with major organisations. 

Cloud9 is one of the teams participating in the LCS Academy League, composed of members from a variety of origins. Some participate in the main LCS under a team that has either withdrawn or disbanded. Others came from different competitive divisions for League of Legends and were scouted by Cloud9 for the LCS Academy League. 

There are cases when an organisation decides to hire a struggling pro team with no backing to become their juniors. One such example is Evil Geniuses CS:GO academy where they have contacted both Carpe Diem and Party Astronauts to fill the opening. 

The basic benefits of belonging to an esports academy

The benefits to expect in joining an academy division team are similar between all organisations. It includes participating in minor tournaments featured in various streaming services, giving aspiring pro players the explosions they need to be scouted. 

This is also a training to improve upon their current understanding of the game to quickly assimilate them with a competitive environment. Teams can achieve these benefits by joining any esports major division but the competitiveness tends to end a lot of players’ dreams of participating. 

Many ended up disbanded or withdrawn from the tournament they worked so hard to reach. Players who refuse to give up and move down a tier will often open themselves up to invitations as a stand-in. Unfortunately, such opportunities are rare and situational. Some consider it a career destroyer because losing to a team you substituted for can blame you for losing. 

Of course, it’s common for major-league pro players to refuse such offers. An example of this is Party Astronaut’s hesitation to join as Evil Geniuses LCS Academy division because of conflict of interest. They have participated in the same events as Evil Geniuses’ rivals and accepting the offer not only bars them from joining the same tournaments. It also puts them under the team they once viewed as equal.

However, such offers are often the better alternative to just quitting or moving further down the tournament rankings. Pursuing a career in esports gaming is difficult without financial backing. Getting support from a major organisation can provide you with the coach, manager, facilities, and opportunities you need to continue playing as close to the majors as possible. 

The importance of academies in the esports economy

People who are more familiar with sports may find esports’ structure as strange. Teams are formed and disbanded every so often with only a few having the opportunity to return to the major leagues in two consecutive seasons. 

It’s fun to see up-and-coming talents make a name for themselves by moving from obscurity and into the spotlight together with more established teams. However, such opportunities are rare and are often ended because they can’t afford to try again for another season. 

Aspiring pro players needed to participate in the major leagues to get noticed by big organisations. This usually won’t happen no matter how good an individual player is if the rest of their teammates can’t complement them in official matches. 

One example of someone who almost loses his shot at playing for major leagues is Justin ‘jks’ Savage. He almost quit CS:GO after having a bad season and his team, Complexity Gaming, disbanded a year after he joined. He was one of the best players on the Australian server and he almost left the game when all odds were against him. It was thanks to Russel ‘Twistzz’ Van Dulken convincing FaZe Clan to give him a chance to stand in that he was able to save his career. 

The sad outcome of the esports scene losing a great player like JKS can be solved by the academy team system. It allows big organisations to offer independent pro players financial support and the benefits of joining their brand. This way, skilled players who wish to continue their dreams of pursuing a career in professional gaming can do so with salary, security, and resources. 

This greatly improves the system of recruitment in the esports industry. Managers get a better look at new talents from the academy and these players start with a relatively higher rate than they could have had they started from obscurity. Thus, members of academies tend to debut in a favourable condition.

The academy league also solves the issue of having wide skill gaps between teams in the major leagues. Many independent teams can reach the top-tier tournaments from time to time. While impressive, they usually don’t stand a chance against players from a more established team like Fnatic, Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, and Team Liquid. 

Underdogs can win a major league competition and Team Spirit is a great example of that. However, there are plenty of cases where spectators know who will win eventually at the end of the match. 

The academy league can prepare many more new pro players before having them recruit them as the main team lineup or stand-in. Thus, ensuring that teams always have experienced members trained by the big team’s professional coaches. Having closer skill gaps make Dota 2, Valorant, League of Legends, and CS:GO esports betting more rewarding, too. 

Root for your favourite organisations’ academy teams or join one

You are most likely unfamiliar with every member of an academy team because these are usually newcomers ages 17 to 20. This opens the possibility of finding new favourite players to follow. If you don’t know where to start, then it’s usually best to root for academy teams created by the organisations you like. 

One season in an academy team can be all it takes to startup and secure a pro player’s career in esports. If not, then they can continue gaining experience under great management from some of the most established teams in esports.  

Words by: Clarence Clarke