Top 10 most influential people in esports for 2019 – Part II
Who were the most influential people in esports for 2019? Let’s recap the top 10
10: Brandon Beck / Marc Merill, Co-founders of Riot Games
9: Andy Miller, Co-founder and Co-CEO of NRG Esports
8: Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng, League of Legends player
Below are three more from the list.
7: Kirsten “KittyPlays” Michaela, Twitch Streamer
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Who is KittyPlays? Stereotypes are rampant in the gaming industry, but Kristen “KittyPlays” Michaela is here to challenge them all. In 2014, KittyPlays made one of the hardest decisions of her life as she chose to leave the University of Saskatchewan to pursue her streaming and YouTube career full-time. However, it was a decision she would not regret. Her natural charisma coupled with the immense growth of Twitch helped her attract a large community. Kristen has since managed to become the 3rd largest female Twitch streamer, with 1.1 million followers. In addition to her streaming success, KittyPlays has amassed 626k subscribers on YouTube, along with 500k and 237.8k followers on Instagram and Twitter, respectively.
Why she mattered in 2019? Currently, along with her robust social media presence, avid streaming and content creation, KittyPlays continues to venture into other esports related endeavors. At the end of 2018, not only was she named the Head of Gaming initiatives for Gen.G Esports, the seventh most valuable esports organizations in the world, but she also teamed up with Tfue to win Duos at Fortnite Korea Open, a charity event. Moving into 2019, KittyPlays was announced as the host of Allied Esports’ series Playtime with KittyPlays. The series features gameplay and interviews with different esports icons and celebrities in front of a live studio audience at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas. Even with a full agenda, KittyPlays continues to spread the joy of gaming in a positive environment.
6: Faze Banks, Owner of Faze Clan
Who is Banks? Richard “Banks” Bengtson is the marketing force behind the success of Faze Clan as a gaming and entertainment brand. In YouTube’s infancy, Banks, along with his mantra of being “different,” saw an opportunity he could exploit. He refrained from being like other gaming channels and focused his attention to trickshotting content in Call of Duty. In 2012, as the leader of Soar, a Call of Duty team, Banks gained recognition and notoriety through his legendary trickshots and larger than life personality. He was authentic, outspoken, wore his heart on his sleeve — traits that would all find their way into his videos. In 2013, Faze Temper recruited the young Banks and the two moved in together. Over the next two years, Faze Clan continued to grow like wildfire, bringing in various member and laying its foundation as a Call of Duty esports team. Due to this dramatic growth, Banks took to the business side of things and focused content on his outlandish lifestyle. Banks simply knew how to create compelling content, and despite his battles with mental health in 2016, he pushed through to gain 3 million YouTube subscribers by the end of 2017 and helped usher in a new age for the Faze Clan.
Why he mattered in 2019? Banks was already one of the most popular YouTubers in 2019 with 5.39 million subscribers, though his content had shifted focus from gaming to vlogging about his celebrity lifestyle. However, that changed as soon as Fortnite came into the picture. Banks helped recruit Tfue to Faze Clan and helped nurture his career to new heights. The two had an outstanding relationship until May 2019, when controversy struck over contract issues between the two individuals and the two departed their own ways. Despite these controversies, Banks popularity remained untarnished, as he continues to create content and advocate esports through the Faze Clan.
5: Carlos, “Ocelote” Rodriguez, Founder, CEO of G2 Esports
Who is Ocelote? In December 2010, Gamer turned CEO Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez started his esports journey as the mid laner for German League of Legends team SK Gaming. After failing to achieve impressive results with SK Gaming, Carlos left the team at the end of 2013. Subsequently, Carlos would seek out talented players to create his own team called Gamers2. Though he achieved better results with his new team, he would eventually fall short of the competition and retire in February 2015, after failing to qualify for the LCS. Following retirement, Carlos’ attention diverted to coaching and expanding Gamers2. Under his new leadership, the team thrived and soon diversified its offerings, owning a plethora of teams competing in various esports. It was not until 2016, after qualifying for the 2016 EU LCS Spring Season, that the team changed its name to G2 esports.
Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez (courtesy G2 Esports)
What he mattered in 2019? Carlos’ unique strength of cultivating talent was evident when he first created his own League of Legends team back in 2014. With over 9 years of professional esports experience, his unwavering eyes can spot relevant trends and quickly pick apart the traits needed for a cohesive esports unit for a specific game. In 2019 G2 went on to win the LEC Spring 2019 championships and although they were the heavy favorites to win the League of Legends championships, they fell short as the runner-up. With such rapid improvements, it is no doubt that Carlos’ and G2 Esports have not only had an incredible 2019, but the journey has been plenty sweet as well.
Next week we’ll count down 4, 3 and 2…
Publisher’s Note: Niaz Dhanju also contributed to this column.
Ben Feferman is an esports analyst and CEO of Amuka Esports. Since the age of 5, Ben has been an avid gamer and has fused ... <Read more about Ben Feferman>