Higher School of Economics Produces the First eSports Managers
HSE degrees in professional retraining in Management and certificates from the Federation of Computer Sports were presented to the first graduates of the programme ‘eSports Management’ at an official ceremony. In addition, some of the graduates also receive the status of a referee.
The first educational programme in Russia of its kind, ‘eSports Management’, was opened by the Higher School of Economics together with the Federation of Computer Sports (FCS Russia) a year ago, in response to growing interest in the field. In 2016, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation recognized e-sports as an independent sport, and, a year later, the FCS received accreditation. This made it possible to host the Russian Cup and Championship, and assign players to different ranks. There are four broad categories - fighting games, real-time strategy (RTS), first-person shooter (FPS), and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).
The six modules of the HSE programme are devoted to management, infrastructure, marketing, economics and finance, legal aspects and event management in eSports. The teachers- professors at the Higher School of Economics and experts from the Federation of Computer Sports- conduct field trips and master classes, in addition to lectures. At the end of the course, students defend their projects.
Dmitry Kuznetsov, Director of the School of Law at the Higher School of Economics, noted at the awards ceremony that the programme had come a long way- from the initial idea to the first graduating students. ‘We carefully selected students for the first year: out of 60 applicants, only 15 people were enrolled. We didn’t regret our choice’, Kuznetsov said. ‘We taught very driven people with excellent potential, strong managerial skills, and unique ideas for improving their own businesses. Our graduates want to develop this industry and their degree projects will play a significant role in the furtherment of e-sports in Russia.’
Anastasia Shalimova, head of the module ‘Sports marketing and sponsorship’ of the FIFA / CIES Sport Management educational programme and teacher in ‘eSports Management’ was also present at the graduation ceremony. She reminded the students that experts estimate the Russian e-sports market to be valued at 10 million dollars and that they expect an average yearly growth of 20%. Her advice was to ‘get involved in this industry’.
The President of the Federation of e-Sports, Dmitry Smit, congratulated his new ‘colleagues’ and expressed his hope that they would make major contributions to the industry. He willed the graduates to remember that the field of e-sports is not only about shows and competitions – it’s also a philosophy. ‘Computer sports are a way to improve a person. Do not forget this and do everything you can to further your own development,’ he said.
Graduates shared their opinions of the programme and their plans for the future.
Evgeny Soldatov, Financial Director of Skolkovo, Moscow
As a professional manager, I want to keep up with the trends, and e-sports is a dynamically developing industry. Prior to the programme, I had a very superficial knowledge of computer games, as I played at an amateur level. The big advantage of the programme at HSE is its focus on practice. I really liked the marketing unit, the courses related to the management of e-sports, and the team building exercises. These units were taught by industry experts and communicating with them as part of the learning process was an invaluable experience. As someone with a background in finance, I found that there wasn’t enough material on financial management specific to the industry. The programme coordinators have taken this remark on board. I am thinking about starting my own business or entering the industry as a top manager. I think that I could also make a valuable contribution to the industry as an expert in finance.
Tatyana Kozlova, Marketing and Advertising Manager of FC Lokomotiv, Head of the Loko eSports Team, Moscow
I head an interactive soccer team and I was somewhat familiar with the world of eSports. However, what I didn’t have was the opportunity to communicate with the professional community. I wanted to ‘fill in the gaps’ by doing the programme and I think that I managed to do so. I was the only female student in the group. Our graduate project, which focused on the creation of an e-sports academy for teenagers, was awarded the top mark. For me, the most important thing now is to make our project become a reality. FC Lokomotiv can build the academy and the FCS is ready to offer its support. I was also invited to teach at HSE, and it was a thrill to receive the offer. It’s something that I’m definitely thinking about.
The most memorable event over the course of the training was a meeting with Anton Cherepennikov, Chairman of the Academic Board of the programme and co-owner of the holding company, ESforce. His lecture provided the sort of insight you might have after reading 15 books on management, marketing, business, and life in general. After his presentation, I was inspired to reflect on and apply his experience. Also, I want to make special mention of the supervisor of our degree project, who is also the coach of the best Russian cybersport team, Virtus.pro. Roman Dvoryankin is an expert in the field and a true professional. He sets an example for us all to follow.