During BlizzCon 2019, our own Bahamut was able to sit down with Patrick Benassi, Associate Esports Manager on the Tespa team for Blizzard. He helps run broadcasts, operate the tournaments, and works with the remote team.
How did you get started in collegiate esports?
I was playing in the 2015 Heroes of the Dorm tournament where my team made it to the Grand Finals. There, I witnessed first-hand what it was like to be a pro or be a semi-pro (somewhat pro) and having that experience – the entire time I was like, “Man, I want to put these tournaments or these experiences on for other people.” It was so great that I changed from going down a path towards dental school to more live event and tournament operations focused.
How long have you been a part of Tespa?
I’ve worked for Tespa now for three and a half years. I started as a remote admin and eventually became a head tournament admin and eventually an esports manager. In those three and a half years, I’ve worked on any tournament that we’ve had since 2016. For Dorm, I was more focused on production. For Overwatch Fiesta Bowl, I was more focused on stage management and live Finals support. My role has sort of changed depending on the program.
What has been your favorite event to work on?
It was the Collegiate Esports Championship last year, because it was the first time that all of our different tournaments had a live Finals together. It was sort of like a pipe dream that Tespa had for a while, so it was really cool to have Hearthstone, Heroes, Starcraft, and Overwatch all under the same roof. Getting to interact with those collegiate players, and seeing how they interacted and how friendly they were with each other was awesome!
Do you have any advice to anyone who is interested in an esports career?
For me, it was that moment when I was like, “Hey, I want to do this for other people.” If you’re interested in getting started, I would say just do. Just create. Just find something you like and interact with the space in any way that makes sense with your skill set. For me, I had to learn completely new skills but it was really exciting for me. Not everyone is like that, and that’s okay! My recommendation would be to go out and create stuff, because that’s what people are interested in seeing – what you’ve done or what you’ve organized.
What are you most excited about when it comes to collegiate esports?
I’m just really excited that collegiate esports is where it is today. When I was going to school, there wasn’t a ton of support yet. Institutions were just starting to, like maybe scholarship a player. That wasn’t really mainstream. Now we’re seeing it all over more and more. I’m just excited with how relevant it is and how many people are acting in the space in such a positive way. I think collegiate esports is incredible at connecting people, maybe giving someone who may not normally have that opportunity or chance a sort of path to try something out. So maybe it’s supporting them through undergrad, maybe it’s giving them a taste of being a pro, maybe it’s getting them started on a broadcast stream. I’m just excited about collegiate esports in general.