You’ve seen his amazing visuals splattered across the animation, advertising, and branding efforts for the likes of 100 Thieves, Sacramento State University, Ghost Town Rebellion, Dang, etc. And if you still happen to follow his career moves since his departure from 100 Thieves, you already know he’s enjoying his current position as someone that’s focused on “teaching the psychology of design to creatives.” The uber-talented individual we’re speaking of here is George H. Nowack, a young graphic and motion designer hailing from California. The one and only Aaron “Don” Dukes caught up with Mr. Nowack to pick his brain about what inspired his current choices in fashion, what he would consider being his passion project, and more.
From June to July, the Call of Duty League esports scene delivered tons of hype and clutch plays during the Major 4 Qualifiers and Tournament Weekend. Now we’re gearing up for the final competitive presentation of Call of Duty: Vanguard before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II drops on October 28. From August 4 to August 7, Call of Duty diehards can get a huge dosage of esports action via the CDL Championship Weekend 2022 tournament as it emanates from the Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA. Now join us as we break down the tournament format for this esports gathering, the prize winnings, match schedule, and participating teams.
A decade ago, having esports teams as subsidiaries of traditional sports teams was an impossible thought. Over the years, professional sports teams, such as the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Manchester City, New York Islanders, and much more, saw the potential in esports. Jordan Zelniker, Lead of Esports Strategy for the New York Islanders, stumbled upon the intersection of esports and traditional sports. In this piece, you’ll find out about Jordan’s career and what it’s like leading the esports strategy for the New York Islanders.
Esports has been growing rapidly over the past few years – only a few have been able to make a viable career out of it. Hantao Yuan, the Head of Gaming for Overtime, has found his niche in this lauded management position. Operating a team consists of recruiting content creators and professional esports players, overseeing a staff of talent managers, coaches, graphic designers, community managers, etc. It also entails staying up to date on industry news and trends and a whole lot more. While it may seem doable from an outside perspective, it’s actually way harder than one might think. ONE37pm spent some time learning the ins and outs of that profession via Hantao, who details his journey rising to the top of the esports world and his experience running an industry-renowned organization.
ONE37pm: When did your interest in video games begin?
Hantao Yuan: I actually was never interested in video games when I was younger. Growing up, I played a lot of sports like soccer, football, street hockey, basketball, and volleyball. I was at a birthday party (Idk if it was mine or my friends) and someone gave me a copy of Diablo 2. I actually found Runescape and played that. But my PC couldn’t handle it, so I downloaded Diablo 2 and started playing it. I did a lot of PvP and I learned a lot of skills through in-game trading through those two games. This was in grade 11, actually. I didn’t really start until grade 12/college.
ONE37pm: Did you always envision yourself working in some sort of management role?
Hantao: No, I never did. When I got to college, I got my own laptop and was playing Starcraft 2. My hard drive melted, so I actually got a replacement one lol. I got bored of SC2 because it’s not very social. So I played custom modes and they had DOTA on there and a childhood friend introduced me to League of Legends. I just volunteered for the gaming club because my parents told me to be a doctor. I was in a bunch of other clubs too in college. I was decent at the organization, so I just got higher and higher roles in the gaming club. Back then, we didn’t even know if we could get a job in gaming. Being Canadian was also an issue cause of visas and how hard it was to get working visas for gaming back then. I’ll attach a picture of the club, it was popping.
ONE37pm: After graduating college, what did you do before joining Overtime?
Hantao: I did multiple jobs in gaming. After graduation, I worked at a PC cafe. I collaborated with a few people back then to build a Lan center at the university. I was also a co-founder of a company called Uconnect esports, which is a marketplace between brands and events. Then I worked as a partner manager and business development at a streaming platform. I met someone there called “youtubable” that introduced me to SoaR Gaming, where I helped them with some backend and fundraising stuff.
ONE37pm: When did you first hear about Overtime?
Hantao: I heard about Overtime first because one of my uni friends played basketball. Then I learned about it when I met all of the staff and people there.
ONE37pm: How did the opportunity align to become the Head of Gaming for Overtime?
Hantao: Overtime had a Fortnite side ran by Inspyre back then. They wanted to get more audience and build it out more, so they acquired Evade and merged the two together. I met with the team, talked it over to understand the culture & everything in OT, and we locked it in. Money can come from anywhere. It just needs to be the right people. OT had really great values that aligned with mine, so it was easy.
ONE37pm: What does your day-to-day schedule look like?
Hantao: My day-to-day now is a lot different because we have a Web3 side called “bracketX.” On the gaming side, it was a lot of making sure our operations were solid. From having enough staff infrastructure to run socials, to having contracts/legal sorted, making sure people were paid on time, and making sure our talent was happy. Now there are a lot more Web3 problems to solve – Roan has been great in managing a lot of day-to-day ops.
ONE37pm: How does the esports team assist the entire Overtime ecosystem?
Hantao: Community is a large pillar of Overtime. I wouldn’t even call Overtime gaming an esports team. We don’t compete in esports. Esports is a sinkhole for money unless you can be the best. We’re focused on content, stories, and brand. Anything that can move the needle to build loyal members of Overtime. I want people to echo Overtime’s DNA and values.
ONE37pm: How does the whole recruiting process work for a potential esports player or content creator to join the team?
Hantao: Our recruitment process actually starts from our talent. They are the ones closest to the action, so they have the best thermometer for knowing other creators in the community. The thing that the management does is just some further vetting and calls. We mainly look for people who align with our values – community, content, and brand. We’ve survived in Fortnite for this long because of those values, while most teams just burn out or exit. At the end of the day, we just want people who really care about building a brand to understand that it’s not an easy process. Building a business takes decades and, unless you can think long term, it’s hard to build something for the next years to come.
ONE37pm: Explain your most redeeming moment working at Overtime.
Hantao: I think the most redeeming thing at Overtime were multiple moments. Not everyone knows basketball, not everyone knows NFTs, and not everyone knows games. But, with the different things that OT does, it’s cool that people come up to you and recognize Overtime’s brand because it has reached their life somehow.
ONE37pm: What advice would you give to aspiring people who want to make esports a career?
Hantao: Esports is not sunshine and rainbows. Everyone has a dream of making gaming a career. Please stop using esports before I clap you :O. People are usually stuck in terms of what they can do to get a job in gaming but there are actually so many things that require different skills – talent management, art, social media, editing, events, HR, operations, etc. Just be really good at what you do and network the hell out.
Have you ever watched a professional Fortnite tournament on a streaming platform? If so, you probably have not only seen but heard the voice of the talented esports caster LifewithPanda. As the viewer, it’s important to be entertained and have a good experience while watching. Furthermore, if a person is observing an esports tournament and doesn’t hear any casting going on, it’ll make it stale and boring. Even though casting is very tough to master, LifewithPanda makes it look like a piece of cake. In this feature, ONE37pm picks the brain of LifewithPanda, and he chats about his journey and what it’s like being an esports caster.
ONE37pm: Did you play a lot of video games growing up? If so, which ones?
LifewithPanda: Video games for me when I was growing up were an escape and a learning tool. I’d load up into a game with no direction and try to find success. Honestly, probably why I have decent problem-solving skills 🤣. As far as games go, I played everything from every console. My main games though were Halo 2, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, and COD MW2.
ONE37pm: What was life like before becoming a professional esports caster?
LifewithPanda: Before I was a caster, I developed a successful career in hospitality and real estate. I’ve worked for companies such as Disney, Marriott, Publix, and more. While with the companies, my focus was on training. I’d spend my days speaking to large groups within the companies and giving direction on whatever the training topic was that day.
ONE37pm: When was the first time you ever casted?
LifewithPanda: My first ever event was with NerdStreet. MonsterDface was helping me break into the space at the time and he helped me get that show. It was crazy because my duo was JacobPR, who I just got to spend the last FNCS season with on NAW. It was a full-circle moment for sure!
ONE37pm: How did you realize that you were very good at casting?
LifewithPanda: As a caster, I’m not sure if I’ll ever realize if I am “good” per se but I always strive to be the best I can be every day.
ONE37pm: What led you to making esports casting a career?
LifewithPanda: In High School and the years following, my best friend Jake always said “You should make a career with your voice.” I’d always laugh and say “that would be cool!” Not thinking it would ever happen. Jake and I went to the Fortnite World Cup and he raised the question “What about casting?.” At the time, I thought it would be impossible for me to do. Then COVID hit in 2020, my work life went remote. This allowed me to spend more time dabbling with esports. I’d spent some time streaming before this but never fully committed.
One thing lead to another and I got connected with MonsterDface. This being the guy I’ve looked up to within gaming since I saw him on stage at the World Cup. Him being the incredible person he is took me under his wing and made me a co-host on the number #1 Fortnite podcast in the world! He saw the potential in my voice and natural flow. Then he asked, “Have you ever thought about casting?.” This was the full-circle moment that changed the trajectory of my life forever.
ONE37pm: What does your daily schedule look like?
- 7 am: Wake Up, Watch Educational Content, and Coffee
- 8 am: 30 min Walk
- 8:30 am: Shower & Eat
- 9:30 am: Office on, Start on TikToks
- 12 pm: Have three TikToks complete/Lunch
- 1 pm: YT Video/Pre-Planning/Meetings/Voice Over Recordings
- 4 pm: Wind down/Optional Workout Time
- 6 pm: Games/Livestream/Spend Time w/ Mrs
- 8 pm: Optional Workout time
- 10 pm: Sleep
ONE37pm: Your online name is very unique, how did you come up with “LifewithPanda?”
LifewithPanda: So I wanted an IGN that was good and had solid branding potential. This led me to the name “LifewithM. “So I registered the name on PSN and got it ready. Then I hit a snag. Apparently, I’d made it on the UK website for Sony and not the US. Called Sony, but they couldn’t help. So instead of starting from scratch, I decided to incorporate an animal into the name. One that I loved the coloring of and the videos I had seen. At that moment, LifewithPanda was born.
ONE37pm: There is a good amount of toxicity within the Fortnite Competitive community, how do you deal with it from a caster’s point of view?
LifewithPanda: I’m naturally a very positive person and always like to look at situations from multiple perspectives. This allows me to understand player frustration and behavior with it creating a negative mindset for me. So I use that to build stories and narratives while casting that convey the players’ feelings but in a more positive way.
ONE37pm: How do you envision the Fortnite Competitive scene growing in the next five years?
LifewithPanda: The next five years of Fortnite Competitive will define its future forever. If I had to guess, the FNCS Invitational is just the start of in-person events returning to Fortnite. As long as this event goes well, we could see multiple more to follow in the coming years. In an ideal scenario, it would be two seasons of FNCS in one game mode with a mid-year In-person event. Then switch the game mode for the last two seasons and have an end-of-year in-person event.
ONE37pm: What advice would you give to an aspiring esports caster?
LifewithPanda: The best advice I can give is the same advice that was given to me when I started “Just do it.” Record yourself casting over games, study other casters, and most importantly, put your cast out there for the world to see. Eventually, the right person may just see it. Networking helps some as well! 🤣
The Call of Duty pro scene is going to play a major part in getting fans all caught up in some furious skirmishes between the best players/teams this summer. And from June 24 to July 17, the world’s most popular first-person shooter franchise will demand everyone’s attention as the Call of Duty League: Major 4 Tournament unfolds. To make sure you don’t miss any of the furious Call of Duty: Vanguard action, we’ve decided to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about this summer FPS esports series.
NBA 2K is kicking off 2022 with a brand new initiative geared for 2K fans across the globe. Global esports organization Gen.G and Mobil 1, the official Motor Oil of the NBA, have teamed up to launch The Tune Up, a program designed to help NBA2K players tune up their skills and tune up the community.
Here are the deets.
The Tuneup program starts today, and will launch with a NBA2K tournament, giving gamers the chance to compete for cash prizes of, fittingly, $2,000. Then in May, Gen.G and Twitch Partner LosPollosTV will host a second round of tournaments where more $2000 prizes will be on the line. Both tournament finals will be hosted on Gen.G’s Twitch channel at twitch.tv/gengesports.
That’s not all. There’s also an important charity component to this program. The Mobil 1 brand will collaborate with 2K Foundations for a court rehabilitation in Minneapolis, and with Project Backboard for two additional projects in Cleveland and New York, adding an additional dimension to the Tune Up concept.
Again, this project runs from now all the way until May, so don’t miss out on the action. You can continue to keep up with updates via the NBA 2K official website. Also be sure to give the GenGTiger’s a follow on Twitter.
Aerial Powers is a beast on the basketball court and is now beginning her dominance in the esports and gaming scene as well. Joining Team Liquid as an ambassador in January, Powers has experienced a great trajectory with the team, paving the way for what is sure to be a long career in the gaming realm. As part of a new investment round, Powers recently joined fellow Team Liquid athletes, Elige and Hungrybox, and content creators, Lex, and Asa Butterfield, on the ownership team with plans for plenty more projects in store in the future. We spoke to Powers about all things Team Liquid last week, which you can check out below.
ONE37pm: We wanted to first start by asking how things have been so far with Team Liquid. There’s a lot in store for the near future!
Powers: It’s been amazing! Our matchup against the Sentinels was crazy, and I don’t think people were expecting us to take home the win. They counted us out, but we got an Ace in the first round and pulled out both wins. Being on Team Liquid has been amazing so far. As you can see I’m totally locked in and very competitive. I’m happy for my guys and I’m trying to throw a watch party for the next one!
ONE37pm: What made you want to join Team Liquid as an ambassador?
Powers: It was their core values. Team Liquid focuses on sportsmanship and they care a lot about family and respect. They are also very much about that championship mentality, which is something that I learned from my time with the Washington Mystics. That’s one of the reasons I gravitated towards them—that winning mentality and having each other’s back. Another thing was their commitment to women. It was honestly a no-brainer.
ONE37pm: Any plans for the holiday season?
Powers: I’m still trying to figure that out! Right now I’m in Los Angeles and it doesn’t really feel like winter! I’m trying to get someplace cold, but I’ll be right back here after that!
Okay 2K fans, it’s time to get “Iced Out.” The holiday season is in full swing, which means 2K22 has some exciting stuff around the corner. Today 2K announced that Season 3 of NBA 2K22 will be available Friday, Dec. 3, and gamers will get the chance to experience the all-new Clutch Time mode in MyTEAM, along with new music added to the soundtrack in partnership with Def Jam Records including “Lose My Cool,” the brand new track from 070 Shake featuring NLE Choppa, and lots of new content and seasonal updates across MyCAREER, MyTEAM, and The W* modes.
The “Iced Out” season rightfully focuses on one of the coldest and clutchest players on the face of this planet—Damian Lillard, and highlights his clutch gene, zoning in on his ability to be unfazed by any competition, which has resulted in some of the sickest shots in NBA History.
Here’s what else to expect in season 3:
MyCAREER will bring players to the Rooftops in the City*, where they will face elite competition at each Affiliation’s Rooftop court. By beating all Affiliation courts (eight games per Affiliation), players can earn a special belt. Additional updates include new rewards, the Animated Iced Out Bundle as a level 40 reward, a winter cosmetic update, and much more.
MyTEAM introduces Clutch Time, an all-new multiplayer mode located inside the Pink Diamond Plaza, where players can experience four-point shots and fast-paced play designed to reward three-point specialists.
The W* additions include four tiers of new rewards, along with new iconic contacts to learn from like Lisa Leslie, one of the greatest basketball players to grace the hardwood, and former All-Star DeLisha Milton-Jones, who brings 17 years of WNBA experience to the table.
‘First Fridays’ this Season feature some of the hottest tracks from both up-and-coming and established icons at Def Jam Recordings, including Kendra Jae, Saint Bodhi, Bino Rideaux, and more. Check out the latest music in-game on the soundtrack and at Club 2K.
For more details on what’s to come, you can check out the NBA 2K22 website.
November belongs to Call of Duty, and with Call of Duty Vanguard scheduled to release on November 5th, more updates are gradually being announced. Today, COD is revealing a new collaboration that, for the first time, allowed actual war photojournalists inside the game to capture in-game war photographs as though they were embedded within the war missions themselves.
Vanguard’s incredible graphics and visual experience reflect the latest technological advancements coming when the new game launches next month, including its use of photogrammetry where locations, scenes and objects are recreated in-game to lifelike photoreal quality, all of which will be available to fans upon its release on the 5th.
We checked in with CMO of Activision Fernando Machado recently to discuss how this all came together.
ONE37pm: Thanks for speaking with us Fernando! The Call of Duty Vanguard graphics are next level. Actual war journalists were transported inside to capture in-game war photographs. What was that development process like?
Machado: We are constantly thinking about how we can learn more, and how we can make more unique features available in our games. Our mind is always on how we can make things look very realistic. We wanted Vanguard to be a very immersive experience and thought it would be boring if we tried to explain what was going on in writing.
These graphics are so realistic, and we knew the community would love actually seeing this experience in real-time. That’s where we came up with the idea to hire actual war photojournalists that could capture World War II. It tells the story of technology even if you aren’t into playing COD.
ONE37pm: What made you guys want to introduce this component, and what was the real-time experience of filming, documenting, game development, etc.
Machado: We developed this as a team together at our Motion Culture Studio in Los Angeles. I personally wasn’t there because I’m still in the process of moving to L.A., but all of our key team members were personally there. It was a total collaborative effort from our motion capture team all the way down to our marketing and agency development.
ONE37pm: Starting on October 21, limited edition photo prints will be sold at Bleecker Trading with proceeds going to the Call of Duty Endowment. How important is that?
Machado: We are proud of our work with the Call of Duty Endowment Fund. We’re the largest organization that places veterans in high-quality jobs. Next year we will hit the 100,000 milestone in terms of job placement, and it is something we are very passionate about building internally. Look for more to come!
It’s not often that you literally get to go inside of a video game, and Alex and Sebastian talked about waiting for the right moments to capture their shots the same way they would on the ground.
“These were situations that I would normally capture,” said Alex Potter in the film. “I was impressed with how kinetic and immersive it all was,” added Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini. “As photographers, this is what conflict looks like.”
To help get veterans back to work, please visit: www.callofdutyendowment.org/help, or follow on Instagram and Facebook at @CallofDutyEndowment, and Twitter at @CODE4Vets.
Call of Duty: Vanguard is scheduled for release on November 5, 2021.