On January 30th, I had the pleasure of co-presenting GumGum Sports’ data and insights from the 2018 NBA2K season to the league at their workshop at the Mavs Gaming center in Dallas, Texas. In addition to traveling to a new city, speaking to such a large group of professionals surpassed everything I’ve accomplished in my career. While it was a test of courage, the experience proved an incredible opportunity to defy self-doubt. 

As a former social media analyst specializing in esports who grew into an associate account manager role, I found that the ability to present our data to high-profile clients came quickly and naturally. Feeling nervous has never been an option, as my job requires confident communication with clients on a daily basis. Being a passionate member of the esports community has helped me foster many connections with teams in the space and maintain strong client relationships that have grown into renewed partnerships.  

Off the virtual court, NBA2K management is a tight-knit community of esports professionals and seasoned NBA league veterans. Teams talk, and our work with 8 of the 21 teams has solidified our name in NBA2K circles, allowing our great reputation to precede us in the community. In our report to the NBA2K league, GumGum Sports Sales Manager Katie Carew and I highlighted key data trends from the last season, emphasizing how teams can utilize our findings to maximize media value for their sponsors. In my section, I described content creation trends across esports that 2K teams can apply on their social channels. Speaking to a room full of strangers in suits—mostly men—is intimidating, but I was lucky enough to be friends with many of them through the online esports community. 

It was a pleasure to share the stage with another woman. Katie’s leadership of our NBA relationships and my background in esports complimented each other well. The evening before we presented, Katie organized a cocktail party for the league to relax after their day of content. Throughout the evening we received praise for hosting a fun, community-centered event. Having Ian Partilla, Ryan Mosher and AJ Sheath in attendance made for a strong GumGum presence.  

If someone had told me this time last year that I would be speaking to the entire NBA2K league and NBA representatives, I never would have believed them. Growing with the GumGum Sports team over the past 10 months has been one of my most transformative experiences. Gaining confidence in my role has positively affected all areas of my life. This is only the beginning, and there is plenty more for me and GumGum Sports to accomplish in 2019. 

Written by Tia Smith (GumGum Sports)