Two of the League of Legends industry's most recognized professionals have launched a pro bono player hub geared to help esports players connect with free professional services. Former League pro and esports ambassador Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis and esports lawyer Bryce Blum, founding partner of IME Law, are starting the organization, named the Player Resource Center.
After working on previous projects together, Ellis and Blum now look to connect current esports players with professionals who are able to assist in common career hurdles. Resources such as accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, sports psychologists, branding and PR experts, and more will be available to players who wish to use the service free of charge.
Professionals who wish to become a part of the Player Resource Center will be required to offer two hours minimum a week to players without any form of financial compensation.
"One of the reasons I'm so passionate about helping get the PRC off the ground is that when I first went pro, I was taken advantage of because I didn't know any better," Ellis told ESPN. "I was fortunate to find mentors quickly that helped me understand the industry, but most players will never get that opportunity and can be taken advantage of for some, if not all of their very short career spans. I hope the PRC can provide resources and tools for aspiring or current professional players to become better informed about matters which can significantly impact their career."
Over the past few years since his retirement from competitive play, Ellis has been outspoken about the need for player assistance, particularly player unions. While the Player Resource Center is not a union, it serves a similar purpose to players in need.
Blum, however, has been at the forefront of representation in the esports scene. In 2015 his reputation grew through coverage of issues such as the MeetYourMakers and Kori debacle, the legal ramifications of said issue and player protection on reddit. And while he's unable to disclose his clients because of attorney-client privilege, many esports experts speak highly of him behind the scenes.
The topic of players' unions, best practices and working in the best interest of players has been popular over the past few months. In December, Challenger squad Ember released its player salaries, saying it was in the best interest for these numbers to be available to the public. That sparked a large debate across esports, with many popular and prominent influencers contributing to the discussion.
But despite the reccurring conversations on talent protections, issues are still arising in 2016. In February, esports coach Rohit "CurryshotGG" Nathani filed suit against former pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, best known for price gouging of the drug Daraprim, for failing to live up to his contractual obligations to the coach, as reported by The Daily Dot. Additionally, European squad Team Huma allegedly failed to pay its players on time or provide a gaming house, as stated in its player contracts.
While players still suffer organizational mismanagement, among many other industry crisis, other esports talent across the world is finding a solution to such an issue. Through talent agencies such as WME|IMG and CSA, names such as popular caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles, journalist Richard Lewis, host Sue "Smix" Lee, and more have been represented by professionals with proper experience.
Nonetheless, Blum and Ellis' new project fills an empty niche that many say needs a solution. Now players will have a chance to be better-guided in their careers, something that has rarely happened over the past few months.
Disclosure - Stephen "Snoopeh" Ellis and Bryce Blum are occasional contributes to ESPN Esports.