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Photo provided by Kelsey Rowley, courtesy of Spectacor Gaming

GAMING

INTERVIEW: Kelsey Rowley Talks Training, Social Justice and Missing Live Events with Philadelphia Fusion and T1

Behind every team is an even bigger team behind the scenes helping to mold, fortify and promote its efforts and brand.

Professional eSports teams Philadelphia Fusion and T1 count on Spectactor Gaming and T1 Entertainment & Sports Communications Manager Kelsey Rowley to guide them in everything concerning public relations, internal/employee communications and live events.

 

With the latter having been compromised for a majority of the year, due to the current COVID-19 global pandemic, Rowley tells Double G Sports the Fusion and T1 rosters have continued to maintain a rigorous training schedule. This schedule includes a number of hours practicing within their team or in one-on-one sessions with coaches, eating well and working out in the gym.

Rowley emphasizes that the eSports team training “is really no different than any other traditional sport.”

“At the Fusion, they train for 6, 7, 8, 9 hours a day. They have VOD (Video-On-Demand) review, which is where you essentially sit down and review your game play and our coaches walk you through where you could have approached the situation differently.”

Rowley continues, “Beyond the training that happens in our training room, we also have a huge emphasis on mental health, with is a big obstacle in eSports, just because you’re grinding so many hours a day and putting in so much time. We’ve actually hired a sports psychiatrist to talk through a lot of the pressures that our teams face, and obstacles that any other athlete faces.”

Photo Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Relieving the stress

“These players are so accessible. When you’re streaming on Twitch, anybody can talk to you on social media,” Rowley adds. “There is a lot of criticism and sometimes hate that can come their way. So, we also work with them on how to manage a lot of that stress and some of that anxiety that can come with that space. Poko (Philadelphia Fusion tank player) is one of our star players and he’s done a great job of getting a lot of other players in the gym, working out because it is a great way to relieve that stress.”

“We like to keep them healthy. It really is more than just logging on and putting in the hours on your PC. We’re trying to build a better lifestyle for these competitors as well.”   

Photo Courtesy of Spectacor Gaming

Taking a stand

Besides working hard on and away from PC screens, the Philadelphia Fusion in particular, have also recently taken a stand against social inequality and racial injustice. In late August, the team released a statement of support in response to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kelsey Rowley articulates that “having an inclusion type of mind and supporting our Black colleagues and our Black communities and fans is really our number one priority right now.”

“When tragic, heartbreaking events like this happen, we wanna make sure we’re one of the first organizations to come out and in solidarity with our communities that are really hurting right now and it’s frustrating for everyone,” Rowley says.

Kelsey proclaims that for the Fusion, herself and her colleagues, their agenda goes beyond just putting out a public statement. “

“What really matters is putting our money where our mouth is and creating change where we can. We’ve actually put together a Diversity Equity & Inclusion Council, which is working behind the scenes to action plan and create opportunities and programs for underserved communities to be represented and have opportunities to get into the eSports industry, because we know it is not representative of what our country looks like.”

Changing landscapes

As for what life may look like for the Fusion and T1 in a post-pandemic world, Kelsey Rowley is certain that the live events experience in the eSports industry, which she misses “so much” and recalls being told that it’s like “a cross between an EDM concert and an NHL playoff game,” will only get “better and better.”

“Last September, we hosted the Overwatch League Grand Finals here in Philadelphia and there’s really nothing like it. It’s electric and fans just go absolutely insane over it. It’s incredible to watch,” she reveals.

Photo courtesy of Spectacor Gaming

“For me, the most interesting part of [working in eSports] has been the live events experience. When I first got into the industry it was hard for me to wrap my head around. ‘Wait a minute. People tune in to watch other people play video games?’ It’s really no different than watching the best of the best in basketball or football or ice skating, whatever it may be.”

 

To learn more about Kelsey Rowley’s role as a Communications Manager in eSports, her journey in the industry as a woman and her thoughts on women in eSports, advice on how to pursue a career in eSports and much more, please watch the full Candace Cordelia’s video interview, which is available within this article and on the  Double G Sports YouTube channel.

 

Relevant Social Media Accounts to Follow:

Kelsey Rowley: @kels_rowley

Philadelphia Fusion: @Fusion

T1: @T1

FTW For The Women: @FTW_us

Comcast Spectacor: @ComcastSpectacor

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Candace Cordelia
Candace Cordelia has been an on-camera interviewer and writer for In The Zone since the Summer of 2020. Candace's journalism experience includes writing for the New York Daily News and ABC Radio, where she also conducted celebrity interviews and audio production/editing for ABC Radio's national radio affiliates across the country. Her on-camera experience involves working as a backstage/in-ring interviewer with a number of independent wrestling promotions and as an actress. Candace is dedicated to bringing combat sports and eSports news to the In The Zone universe.
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