Over the last 20 years, the rise of esports has been incredible to watch. The boom from live streaming, different games and organizations has propelled esports into mainstream video game culture. Recently, I had the opportunity to have an interview with Lumen Vera of Crescent Esports. He’s the CEO and co-founder of the organization. We sat down and talked about how he and his organization are bringing esports to the US State of Louisiana, which has previously lacked a focused esports venue.
Samuel: Tell us about yourself and Crescent Esports. How did it all start?
Lumen: “So, it’s me and another individual named Allan Mizel. We initially met because I was an Overwatch player. I joined his team and his dream has been to create an organization. This was about two years ago, when Overwatch came out. We became friends, I moved up the ranks and we just talked about what the next move was. Honestly, running an organization wasn’t even something in my mind but at the same time I was also trying to do something where I’m building communities. I like being that house where friends come to play games, that was my house growing up.”
“So what it ended up looking like in practice was that one day we were just talking about it and we were like ‘Let’s do it.’ The differences with what we’re doing with versus a regular organization is that we’re playing a fine line between professional and community. We decided we wanted to do both, because we wanted to take the same culture that is Louisiana, which is brotherhood and community and giving back and we wanted to apply that to our organization. Doing both at the same time has been a challenge. You focus on one side then leave the other and you kind of have to jump back and forth.”
“With Crescent Esports our goal is to not only just be an organization but to work with the state of Louisiana, we want to work with the cities. Take the example of the OWL (The Overwatch League) where they have city-based teams, now apply it to an organization. Now we have a state-based organization. In Louisiana, esports is a few years behind where the West Coast is, like in California it’s pretty developed. You have schools having esports degrees, you have Esports Arena, clearly it’s all well-developed. In Louisiana, while there’s interest, the only interest that is there is because ‘Hey, my kid plays Fortnite.’ For us, for Crescent Esports, we want to be the vanguard for the esports scene and the esports culture in Louisiana.”
Samuel: What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?
Lumen: “I think the biggest struggle is always going to be the balance. Balance between focusing on ourselves, building our players, our brand, building our presence, then at the same time working with the community and building the esports scene. It’s not an easy feat to do both evenly, you can kind of have to bob and weave between the two. What we’re finding is being successful is just being part of the community. There are small events going on, our players go to a lot of locals, locals held by friends of theirs or by colleges. That’s been a big booster, we’re seeing individuals join our discord, follow us on social media who are like ‘Hey, I saw Doza at my college the other day and I saw you guys’ jersey and he played really well and I want to see what’s up.'”
“Little by little, we’re getting more presence with it and it’s always going to be like ‘Okay, we have these fans, we have these followers, now what? How do we keep their attention? How do we push them forward and show them who we are and what we’re capable of?'”
Samuel: If people want to get help with the esports scene, what’s the best way for them to get involved?
Lumen: “I think the best way to help would be to go to your local scene and be part of that community. Help promote that community. Also, just spreading that word that this is what’s going on because it’s the model that’s worked. ‘Hey, this game’s really cool, oh my god, like 100,000 people are playing this game, let’s make a tournament!’ Oh my god, there’s so many people competing, let’s keep doing this over and over.'”
Samuel: So, what games is Crescent Esports trying to be involved in?
Lumen: “The way that we actually look into a scene is as long is it’s healthy, as in there’s a tournament scene, the prize pools are a good amount, there’s a player base, so it’s a healthy scene and it’s moving forward we’re fine with kinda getting into any game. It just so happens that we hopped into FGC (Fighting Game Community) and we have FGC and Hearthstone players. As long as it’s healthy we’re more than happy to get into it. What we involve ourselves more in – or rather, invest more in, is the player.”
“Me being a competitive player, my partner Allen being a competitive player, everyone in the organization has been a competitive player of some level. So, we know the mindset and we know what it takes to be a competitive player and if a player comes to us, we talk to them, we get a feel for how they think, what their goals are, what they’re pushing. If they’re a player who isn’t sure if they want to go pro, which is fine, esports is a learning thing, you learn so much about yourself just being in the competitive scene or just being involved in gaming by itself, that’s what makes me so passionate about it. We want to make sure the players we pick up have that drive cause that’s not something you can teach. That’s something that an individual has to figure out on their own.”
“We started a business just because we wanted to and it’s our passion. Like I’ve been saying, it’s a learning experience but that’s not going to stop me, I’m going to continue to find better ways to make sure that this thing is successful. So, if I’m doing this, I’m expecting everyone else to be the same way in this organization.”
Samuel: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Lumen: “Here’s what I want to pass on. Crescent Esports is a place you can use as a stepping stone. Very much, we want to have people come to us whether it be for wanting to play for us, work for us, just be in the community. Use us as a stepping stone, come in, learn from us and we want to learn from you. On a personal level, I’m always happy to meet people, talk to them and I’m never going to ignore a message. I might get swamped and totally forget about it but it’s not going to be something like ‘Oh, this person messaged me, I’m not going to ever respond.'”
“I want to make sure communication is clear on all levels, even if it’s rejecting someone or anything like that. In like nine out of ten cases it will always be ‘Alright, let’s talk, let’s figure something out, let’s see what you have to say and see if it works’ and have an open dialogue. That’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned in business.”
Samuel: Thanks for your time.
Lumen: Thanks for having me here!
So, that was my interview with Lumen Vera of Crescent Esports. For more information on the organization, you can find the official Twitter account for Crescent Esports right here. Their official website will be launching sometime in October 2018.