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December 21, 2018

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An Uncertain Future

December 21, 2018

 

After 8 years of gg’s and wp’s, I’m sad to say the After Hours Gaming League has no plans for future seasons. We and many of you care deeply about the league, so we wanted to take the time to share a bit of the history of AHGL and address why Sean and I aren’t planning on running future seasons.

 

We founded the AHGL after casting the finals of an internal SC2 tournament at Facebook in 2010. Seeing the standing room only crowd cheering on their co-workers reminded Sean and I of how we grew up gaming -- going to LAN parties, arcades and local game stores. We cherished the community aspect to those experiences. After the finals, we saw an opportunity to positively impact the esports scene through:

  • Growing both internal and cross-company communities around gaming.

  • Building awareness of esports within companies which may later go on to sponsor or otherwise contribute to the ecosystem.

  • Highlighting a side of gaming not seen in Hollywood stereotypes: Professionals at top companies applying the same principles of practice and improvement to their careers as they did to their games.

  • Raising money for charity.

The AHGL grew at a phenomenal pace.  Starting with 8 teams in Season 1, AHGL roughly doubled participants every season. By 2015, we covered five competitive titles and had over 100 unique companies participating.  

 

One one hand, Sean and I were over the moon about how many people were playing.  On the other hand, the AHGL had become increasingly difficult to operate. Sponsorships were difficult to come by in an amateur esports league with relatively small viewership.  Signup fees existed to help cover some operational costs, but we still had to rely on some volunteers to help run the league. With over 1,000 players per season, we simply had to dedicate far more hours than we expected coordinating, communicating, and running the league as smoothly as we could.  As a result of the increasing time commitment, we didn’t run the league in 2016 and 2017.

 

After the 2 year hiatus, we tried to restart the AHGL again in 2018.  Esports had exploded in those years, so our goal was to build the AHGL into a self-sustaining organization that wouldn’t be at risk of shutting down again.  We focused on growing the league through paid marketing, adding in more esport titles, and splitting into two seasons so that players could participate in multiple titles each year. Using Battlefy as our tournament platform saved the costs of maintaining our own tournament platform. Creating a Discord server enabled the community to connect better than ever before while also helping players find teammates. The AHGL is now in many ways the best it’s ever been.

 

Unfortunately, our version of the AHGL is still not sustainable.  With all the improvements, the AHGL still lost money this season.  Historically, Sean and I have never made money on the league or paid ourselves a salary, but we’re happy each year we get to work on it because we firmly believe in try-hard, for-fun, community focused competition.  We now are in a weirdly fortunate/unfortunate situation where we have some cool work opportunities in 2019 and, if we want to do them, we won’t be able to dedicate any time to operating AHGL, let alone figuring out how to address some of the money and operational issues.

 

As sad as we are, we’re still proud of the AHGL’s impact over the years. We’ll always remember the stories of collegiate esports players finding a new community in AHGL teams after graduation, new long term friendships and working relationships emerging, and the impact of our combined $110,550 in donations like a water source in Nepal dedicated to Urf of LoL fame.

 

We would love to see the AHGL continue and hope that an opportunity will arise that enables it to thrive. The AHGL Discord server will remain open and we encourage you to hang out and meet other corporate teams. Some of the AHGL community leaders have expressed interest in running independent events next year; we’ll keep you updated with that and any other developments.

 

Thanks for playing,

Eric

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