Interview with WoW Twitch Streamer & Pro Gamer Scott McMillan
According to Newzoo, 2019 is a momentous year for esports, as the global esports market will for the first time surpass $1-billion revenue mark. With leagues and tournaments gaining huge audiences, esports becomes the next generation of media and media consumption.
Getting its start as a World of Warcraft guild, Method is now a global, world championship-winning esports organisation. Founded in 2005 by Scott ‘Sco’ McMillan and based in the UK, Method consists of 10 teams featuring over 75 world-class players.
More than an esports organisation, content creation is Method’s core foundation. Besides housing one of the largest live stream teams in esports, Method is the host of original events such as the Method Majors and the Race to World First: Uldir in September 2018, Race to World First: Dazar’Alor in February 2019, and Race to World First: The Eternal Palace in July 2019.
The Method brand can be encapsulated by the word “progress”, it is illustrated via the upwards trend in its logo. The team’s Mission is to progress esports, their players, fans, and partners through the offering of unique content, experiences and teamwork.
We caught up with Scott ‘Sco’ McMillan, founder at Method, to chat about how he started and advanced his professional gaming career, what it takes to manage an esports organization, and how brands can collaborate with pro gamers and streamers to create the best experience for gaming fans.
Cloutboost (CB): How did you get into playing World of Warcraft professionally?
Scott: I started playing WoW in the US beta, I was 16, and it was the first MMORPG I had ever played. The game was amazing and I instantly fell in love with it. With the EU release, I was one of the first level 60’s on the server and was leading groups through the various high-level dungeons like Scholomance and Upper Blackrock Spire. I had the drive to achieve more in the game and so I started focusing on trying to build the best guild on the server. From there the rest is history, by TBC we were competing on the world stage with a world 2nd on Kil’Jaeden the last boss of the expansion.
In terms of playing WoW professionally, there isn’t really such a thing (as a raider). The Race to World First is a community-driven initiative, there is no prize pool involved and no direct involvement from Blizzard – it is fuelled by the passion of the competing players and the fans. Most WoW raiders are students, while some players take a vacation from full-time employment to compete. Streaming and content creation is the way that some raiders are able to do this “professionally” – over time we are seeing this more and more and with Method, we are now able to support several full-time content creators.
CB: You are now an accomplished competitive gamer, an esports team leader and a popular streamer. How do you balance these multiple roles?
Scott: Juggling multiple roles has been something I have gotten quite used to over the years. However, it remains a constant challenge and requires a lot of mental fortitude to avoid burnout. It really started to ramp up when I finished university and started working full time in finance (40+ hours a week) while as a guild master still trying to make sure the Method guild remained world first (big time commitment with officer meetings, general guild management, preparations for each new content patch, etc) and at the same time start to grow Method out to something more than a guild into the bigger organization that it is today to ensure Method’s legacy would continue into the future. On top of all that and somewhat connected to the latter goal I needed to stream as often as possible and finally maintain everything else in life like social interaction, gym, family, and so on! As you can imagine it was a lot to manage.
3 years ago I quit the finance job (it what was one of the biggest decisions of my life!) and started focusing more time on streaming and specifically growing out Method into a bigger esports entity than just a guild.
Time management is, of course, critical and there is no surprise that most of the reading I did on holiday recently (the first holiday in 3 years!) was self-development books, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my own efficiency, one of the books I read was the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ – would highly recommend!
Both streaming and esports are 24/7 and as an industry, the growth is very rapid. Being both a streamer and an esports team owner there is always the feeling that you can do more and I have struggled with this for a long time. Take being a streamer for example; you can always stream more, when you aren’t streaming you are losing out on potential revenue, potential growth, your viewers might be watching someone else (and maybe they won’t come back). You think about your fellow streamers getting ahead, and you falling behind. When you are away from your PC you are still constantly thinking about how to engage with people on social media, thinking about photo/video opportunities – trying to stay relevant and the fear of not being relevant.
The same can be said on an esports team level, with a lot more variables to consider and a lot of people relying on you. This leads to a feeling of constant guilt when not doing something productive every waking hour of the day and makes it very hard to relax or take a break.
There are a lot of different approaches you can take here to combat this, for me the approach of time blocking and planning out a week at a time seems to be the most effective. This is a huge topic however and there are a lot of other elements that can help such as prioritization to ensure you really focus on what is getting you closer to your goals (in between all the noise and countless emails). Distraction management in terms of how to prevent the distraction and the fatigue of notifications going off constantly on Discord, Slack, Skype, social media, emails, etc. (which really messes with your focus on larger important tasks).
Related to the above another huge personal development for me as an individual (which is ongoing) is becoming better at delegation. In the past, I have found it very hard to let go of the reins and trust others to take over on specific tasks or items. It is impossible to do everything yourself and you need to be able to trust others and their competence. Surround yourself with great people and let them help you. We have built up a great team at Method and this is something we are actively looking to expand as Method continues to grow.
CB: Method is one of the most influential esports teams in the world. How did it all start? When did it really take off?
Scott: It all started with the creation of the Method WoW guild in 2005, the guild had the same goal back then as it has today, 14 years later, to be the best in the world. However, being the best guild in the world is not easy, it requires a ton of time, preparation, dedication, commitment, strategizing, and teamwork.
I spent all of my time outside of studying focused on WoW and Method and before I knew it I had dedicated a good part of my life to its continued success. I started having conversations with Sascha Steffens (who used to be an officer in the guild during TBC before quitting to focus on poker, he is now the Method co-owner) about growing Methods presence further. We wanted to develop the success of Method and find a way to ensure that unlike other top guilds who died out before us, Method would be sustainable long term. We wanted to find a way to make what we were doing more professional, to be able to offer the players more and to ensure that the Method guild and name would survive the test of time.
We expanded out and picked up the fan favorite WoW PvP team (Cdew, Venruki, Snutz), as well as expanding into CSGO and Hearthstone. Streaming was really starting to pick up at the same time and we were very focused on creating as much content as possible on YouTube and Twitch. From there we started working with a lot of different streamers, moved into a few different games and worked with quite a few different brands over time. However for a few years, we found ourselves doing pretty much what every other esports team was doing: competing across various titles, bundling our stream/content output together and selling to brand partners. While not a bad thing, we wanted to establish our own unique value proposition and way to progress the esports scene further.
We began looking into unique content opportunities, content that wouldn’t exist without Method putting it on. We dabbled in this space with a few tournaments, including a live WoW PvP tournament titled “The Method Majors” out of a studio in Santa Monica. In 2018 we took this to the next level by putting on an event around the WoW “The Race to World First”, it was an astounding success.
CB: What’s been the highlight of your career as a Pro Gamer so far?
Scott: There has been a lot of highlights. From achieving each world first to playing on stage at large gaming events such as Gamescom and Blizzcon. One of the most recent highlights would be the first time that Method streamed world-first progress raiding in World of Warcraft back in September 2018 – my stream peaked at 167,000 concurrent viewers which was absolutely insane. Most of my big highlights have only been possible due to the incredible support of the gaming community for which I will always be grateful.
CB: How long have you been working with brands?
Scott: We have been working with brands at Method since around 2010-2011. I remember reaching out to as many brands as possible to try and get something extra for the players in the Method guild. I still have those old proposals saved down, interesting to re-read them so many years later!
CB: What was the first partnership like?
Scott: One of our first partnerships was with Razer (peripherals). This was before streaming was a thing and so the interest from their side mainly came through our well-known name in-game (fan following) video views on YouTube (some of our boss kill videos have over a million views each) and our positive reach on various news website articles. I managed to get everyone in the guild a headset, mouse, and keyboard. I was also flown out to my first ever BlizzCon in 2011 to sign the contract in person in front of an audience at their booth.
CB: How do you select Sponsors from the variety of Brands that approach Method?
Scott: In terms of team partners/sponsors we are very selective, Method has over 70+ streamers and even more players across a variety of teams. We want to make sure that any partner we bring onboard makes sense for our players/streamers to represent and also that they make sense to our fanbase. We want to work with partners that have a good reputation within the gaming community and partners that are actively contributing to the growth of the community. Finally, if it is a product offering then we want to ensure that the products really are the best for our players/teams and our fans.
CB: What’s something you wish more brands knew about Pro Gamers and Live Streamers?
Scott: I think it’s more about understanding the audience. If brands are Twitch savvy I think they will have a much better idea of the type of campaigns or promotions that will receive positive engagement and conversions. It will also give them realistic targets for campaigns. There is value live streamers can offer here in suggesting ideas or providing direction towards successful campaigns.
CB: How does your audience respond to sponsored content?
Scott: I think in general the Twitch audience across the entire platform is much more open and accepting of sponsored content (if done right) these days. Live streamer revenue is much more transparent now than it used to be and as long as it is authentic content then it is all good.
For the most part, the audience wants to see their favorite streamer receiving additional support through sponsored content. It also provides new content opportunities that I personally really enjoy. A lot of the time it is actually very refreshing to play different games on stream.
CB: Are there any other games besides WoW you are looking forward to playing?
Scott: Yes, before getting into WoW I mostly played strategy games and when it comes to watching other streams or games it is still my go-to genre. I played a ton of Warcraft 3 (probably the best strategy game of all time in my opinion) and so I am very excited for Warcraft 3 reforged later this year. Also very excited for other games in the genre like Age of Empires 4.
CB: What most critical advice would you give to an avid gamer who wants to start playing esports professionally?
Scott: There are very few gamers who are able to make a full-time career from playing esports professionally (when you consider how many gamers there are). Be realistic in your expectations, consider the risks, and importantly consider the long term plan.
That being said, social media, YouTube, and live streaming have made it possible for gamers across an entire spectrum of ability to create a full time living from video games. Most people start off just sharing their hobby with others online, before moving to part-time and finally if everything makes sense making the jump to full-time. I think the gradual progression works well and should give you an indication of whether this is something you can sustain and make a living from the long term.
In the end, it is like everything else in life, you have to weigh up the risk versus reward. The opportunity cost.
CB: How do you see the future of esports, live streaming, and the entertainment industry?
Scott: This is a very broad question, but the short answer is that it is only going to continue to grow. Progressively more and more brands are going to enter the space. Those entering early benefit the most, especially if the first among a specific market sector (for example the first car brand entering the space in the past) due to the news, hype coverage and community excitement – ready to embrace.
Brands are recognizing this and looking to benefit from early entry.
CB: What have you and your team got planned for the next year?
Scott: Content creation is at our absolute core. In terms of content output (minutes watched) Method is already one of the biggest teams on the Twitch platform and it is our goal to take the top spot. We will be focusing on a lot of unique content, events, shows, and doing more with the Method twitch channel itself as a hub (watch out for big news here!).
All the while we will continue to expand our esports presence and move into game titles that fit with our fan base.