Athens Online is a Mega-LAN hosted be the University of Georgia Athens esports club. The event takes place on March 18th and 19th. We sat down with the Head of External PR, Brendon Ramdeholl, to learn more about the event and what it takes to run a collegiate esports club.
What is your position with esports at UGA?
I am the external PR officer. It’s my job to reach out to schools and foster relationships between other colleges. In addition to that, it’s also my duty to reach out to companies to potentially get sponsorships or partnerships with them.
How did you get this position?
I applied and there was another guy, Jacob, who had a really good resume. They decided to hire us both and I was made external and he was made internal PR officer. He focuses on promotion inside the school and on campus.
That is great there is enough demand to hire you both. What inspired you to apply for the PR position?
Ever since my friend gave me a copy of Starcraft: Broodwar back in 7th grade for my birthday, I’ve been engrossed in esports and I have had an immense passion for it. Back in high school, there was something called Relay for Life which is all about raising money for cancer research. I knew a lot of guys who played League of Legends back in high school so I created a tournament and half the money that was raised from registering your team went to Relay for Life. I wanted to incorporate that along with something I knew everyone enjoyed playing. I have been following esports a long time and know in my heart of hearts it is something I want to do as a career once I have graduated from college. I think that being part of this club and being able to reach out to companies would be a step in the right direction.
It definitely is a step in the right direction. How many members do you currently have in the club?
Our mailing list is around 300 people now.
Wow, that is a good-sized club.
Yes, not everyone shows up to the meetings but people who are on the mailing list at least registered to be part of the club.
How often do you have meetings for the club?
We have one meeting at the beginning of every month.
What advice do you have for students at other schools who are interested in organizer an esports club?
You need a dedicated core foundation of not only passionate, but driven people. Passion does go hand and hand with that. You can have people who are passionate but they are still lazy. You really need a good balance of a passionate group of gamers that have a good work ethic, then you can start anything you want.
And speak to your school to get a room to meet in such as a computer lab. From there, start growing your member base .You should try to have regular meetings, reach out to other organizations, and strengthen your bonds within the club.
Moving on to the event this weekend. What inspired you to put on the Mega-LAN?
Right after I was brought on to do PR for the club, the founder, York, told us he wanted to have a cool LAN event. It will be our first since our club has only been around since 2015 so a year old back in August. York said, “Let’s make a LAN event. We don’t expect anything crazy, but let’s see if we can get some sponsorships for giveaways or prizing.” When he said that, I already envisioned something greater than a small event because I have always wanted to do something like that. Event planning is one of my dreams to accomplish and once we were able to secure a 40,000 sq ft venue, I knew we were fully capable of making it happen. Making it large and well-funded and something that everyone who comes can enjoy and feel like it was worth their money and time, that has been my goal since the beginning.
That sounds like a fantastic event. What is your expected attendance?
Last time it was checked today, it was 440 tickets already sold. We project over 500, possibly over 600 attendees based on people showing up the day of.
That is great, can anyone come to the LAN or is it college only?
Anyone can attend.
Will there be a live stream?
Yes, there will be a stream for multiple titles including Street Fighter, League of Legends, Overwatch, and CS:GO. We will switch off between games and each final will be streamed seperately. I am not sure if we will be on front page.
What is the Twitch channel?
I know we will be tuning in. Do you think college esports will grow and help improve esports as a whole?
Absolutely. I think that collegiate esports is a great foundation for players to build up a work ethic because they are managing school and playing at the same time. More teams will be able to find great talent from collegiate rosters and it will be easier to foster the new players who have already worked in a team environment. With some new college programs, the players will even have experience with coaches. It is better than starting off from scratch with a player who is top of the Solo Queue ladder but has no team experience. I think that collegiate esports is growing and it can become a strong base in the future. There might even be drafting if this really takes off in the right way.
Any final thoughts or shoutouts?
I would say shoutout to my club officers who worked with me through thick and thin. Everything has been really stressful leading up to this because we have had exams and setbacks. Everyone is still pushing really hard. I know they want this to be a big success.
I want to thank all our sponsors who supported our event. It’s incredible that you guys would do this for us as our club is only a few years old and this is our first event. Everything has been a learning experience and I want to thank AVGL, which is you of course, and UMG our title sponsor because we wouldn’t be able to do this without them and their CEO Jeff. I want to thank ELEAGUE, Razer Arena, Play.tv, Discord, Amazon Student, Dreamhack, Immortals, Tespa, DxRacer, MomoCon, Allmid, Rezli, Gunnar Optiks, Insane Labs, Twitch, ULoL, Battle Brew, and thank you guys so much. We really appreciate it and hope that the success of this event will allow us to foster stronger relationships going forward.
Great! Thanks for taking the time for the interview and I hope the event goes great this weekend!
Check out the esports at UGA website for full details about the event. Tickets are for sale at the door and the event is open to everyone!