Team Rogue, in partnership with Find Your Grind, an education platform that helps kids pursue less traditional career paths, launched a mentorship program earlier this week called Junior Rogue in order to help kids interested in the esports industry. And Rogue's Fortnite squad is on board.
"Too many kids feel like they have to go get the perfect grades to go to the perfect college to get the perfect job which creates the perfect life. But a lot of us don't really realize what the job really entails," Nick Gross, founder of Find Your Grind and drummer for Half the Animal, said in a phone interview with ESPN.
In Gross' experience, when kids are actually told what life is like as a doctor or engineer, it doesn't excite them. "So our whole thing is about shifting the focus to like what type of lifestyle you want to live, and what kind of careers exist in these lifestyle buckets that we've created, and really exposing what those are," Gross said.
At the moment, the life that many kids want to live is one of either an esports athlete or professional streamer. It's something that streamers on Twitch are asked about constantly. Even then, being a pro player or streamer is a very narrow view of the esports industry. There's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes, which can open up potential career paths for kids interested in the space. It's this friction that sparked Junior Rogue.
The spark actually happened over dinner with ReKT Global founder and Rogue co-owner Amish Shah and the founders of Find Your Grind. They were explaining that many kids want to enter the esports space, but don't know how. And that's when Shah thought of Junior Rogue. He didn't know what it would be at the time, possible a fan club of sorts. But over the past three months, it has started to congeal into what it is today.
Junior Rogue is planned to be a semestral program that will offer mentorship by Rogue's Fortnite team and Find Your Grind. Mentorship can include competitive play, but also streaming, game development or other things that are related to the esports space.
Kids will get streaming assets, help with social media and access to Find Your Grind educational events. Each kid will also receive a $500 scholarship to help with any costs, such as buying equipment, along with a travel stipend. But the team will also look at each applicant on a case-by-case basis. If there is someone who is passionate and wants to excel, but doesn't have all the funds, then the team will help leverage costs to make things easier.
"When we put this together, we knew everyone wasn't going to be a PC player, even though we know the best players are on PC. We knew there were some console players, we knew there was an inner-city person, who may not even have had a shot at playing but may have the passion," Shah said.
Shah also said that they're hoping to take Junior Rogue international. Find Your Grind is already reaching people in other countries, and with its help, they want to engage kids in countries where internet is not the best, or where quality hardware is either too expensive or hard to come by.
For Benjamin "DrLupo" Lupo, a popular Twitch streamer and founder of Rogue's Fortnite team, jumping into education is not only natural, but part of the family trade. DrLupo's father was a professor in psychology, and he remembers sitting in on his father's classes when he was younger. DrLupo, 31, now has a 3-year-old son of his own, and understands how important it is to reach kids when they're young.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity with Rekt Global and Rogue and Find Your Grind to do this. Like mentoring and building up young players is something that, because of my history in education, my father, and that kind of thing, it's very important," DrLupo said. "My hope is that the program will help make opportunities in esports more accessible for students, because I feel like right now the scope of what is easily available is extremely narrow, and that needs to change."
And while DrLupo is passionate about helping kids, it will add to his already hectic schedule of streaming, running a team and spending time with his family. DrLupo hasn't ironed out the details of what will be required of him, but wants to deliver on providing a quality experience.
"If you would have asked me three years ago when I first started -- 41 months ago now is around when I started streaming -- if you were to have asked that guy, that version of me, 'Hey, do you expect one day to be able to help people directly pursue potentially a career in esports,' I would have laughed. This is definitely a big change in terms of where I saw myself going. Which is good, it's great, I love it to death. And I'm glad I have a platform to do something like this," DrLupo said.
The program is set to begin on Oct. 8.