Esports
Esports

Th3RaT at GG Expo 2018: Making esports more accessible

th3rat is running tournaments now.
Th3RaT at GG Expo 2018: Making esports more accessible

Professional gaming is more popular than ever before. As the esports industry grows, so too does the production value of events, number of fans attending venues, and, of course, aspiring esports legends looking for a way in. For many, the dream may feel like it’s forever at arm’s length as more and more players enter the space, and meaningful contacts seem to be nonexistent. Enter the GG Expo in Seattle, Washington - “The First Dedicated Esports Convention” - taking place on May 26 through 28. On its Board of Advisors is Brian “Th3RaT” Courtade, a professional Hearthstone player whose passion for competition is matched only by his desire to see esports continue to blossom. “I’ve been a professional Hearthstone gamer for three years, and they’ve been the best years of my life,” says Th3RaT. “Prior to that, I was traveling since 2003 playing a plethora of games, both online and across the States including Yu-Gi-Oh, Halo 2, Warcraft 3, Magic: the Gathering, and League of Legends. It has been a long journey with obstacles, failures, successes, the best times of my life, and some of the most difficult. Cliché as it is, these experiences have shaped me into who I am today.” Indeed, these types of experiences are the endgame for every gamer with professional aspirations. The reality, however, might be much more stressful than they had anticipated. “When you dedicate yourself to something, you’re going to be faced with challenges not only in your craft, but as a result of your craft,” says Th3RaT. “For example, I missed family events, strained relationships and couldn’t afford some everyday items because of Hearthstone. I didn’t want to be that person, but I was because of the hours of unpaid work dedicated to my craft.” [caption id="attachment_101696" align="aligncenter" width="600"]20180117_Helena-Kristiansson_HTC-Worlds_00054-1024x531.jpg Image via Blizzard Entertainment[/caption] This is a common theme among those paying their brutal dues to the esports gods, but the gamble can be worth it. Many young gamers will struggle at home, trying to convince their parents that pro gaming is worth it while they struggle with school and no income. Sean “ImStillDaDaddy” Dench actually used Street Fighter to straighten his life out after serving two years in prison. Even some top esports CEOs such as Noah Whinston (Immortals, Los Angeles Valiant) have had to take massive risks such as quitting university in order to begin their careers. No matter who you are in esports, you’ve had to make sacrifices to keep the dream alive. But what if these sacrifices could be tempered with guidance and advice from industry experts such as Th3RaT? If there was a way to provide a more guided, supportive path to pro, esports could experience much healthier growth and cultural saturation over time. We already see it with colleges offering esports scholarships, and GG Expo is attempting to up the ante even further by providing fans with a more structured way to deal with the aforementioned pro gaming experiences they desperately crave. “We’re bringing together some of the brightest players and managers in esports from around the world that represent professional, university, and high school levels of the esports community,” says Joe English, Executive Director of GG Expo. “GG Expo is going to be a very different kind of experience for esports players and fans, allowing them to really connect as a community.” Th3RaT has played an integral part in the development of GG Expo thus far. He will be part of a Hearthstone meta panel, as well as a “How to Go Pro” panel to help players get started on the right foot. “It has been fun,” says Th3RaT. “I love expanding my horizons and challenging myself in new ways. GG Expo is one of my first forays into expos and speaking engagements, and I can’t wait.” GG Expo One of the unique events at GG Expo will be the Triceleron tournament. Picture a triathlon, but with video games. Amateurs and pros will play League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch to see who is truly the best all-around esports competitor. Th3RaT, who runs the “RaT Race” Hearthstone tournament, helped GG Expo with the organization of the Triceleron. “Tournament structure is something that I am passionate about, and I’ve experienced it first hand as a competitive player over the last decade,” says Th3RaT. “Some players are able to focus solely on competing, which is great for their performance, but I was always interested in the system...I always like to consider whether there is a better way to structure a tournament. With where I am at now in the industry, I’ve been given a chance with GG Expo to understand the tournament organizing side of the equation as well.” Th3RaT has lived the life and has reached a point in his career where his advice is not only valuable to other players, but to event organizers and industry leaders as well. Not too many competitors can say they’ve reached such a prestigious level of industry integration, and if you ask him, taking care of newcomers and cultivating positivity is paramount to the success of esports. “Everyone goes through life at their own pace, but it’s all about balance,” says Th3RaT. “I advise players to have a healthy balance of playing and everyday activities based on what you think you need. There is a Big Sean line I like to live by when it comes to balance: ‘But I've been working on myself and that's the most important work. Even if you don't get paid for it.’ If you continue to work on yourself while working on your craft, being the best version of yourself, success will often eventually find you, and when you are met with failures, learn and grow.” Indeed, Th3RaT and other esports professionals from every corner of the industry will meet at GG Expo to help players learn and grow. To give them the opportunity to shake important hands and ask burning questions, and to see a new generation carry the esports torch into the horizon with more confidence than ever before. “My generation and those after us are fortunate enough to be able to have the opportunity to be passionate about almost anything, share the passion with others, and make a career out of it,” says Th3RaT. “That’s what I aim to do with GG Expo, and I’d be surprised if I don’t find at least one aspiring player with open ears who takes what I have to say to heart.”