Before becoming one of the most recognizable names in the gaming industry, Matt “Nadeshot” Haag was a young gamer from Chicago with a desire to compete.
“I found an early love for video games. It was an outlet that I needed to express that competitive passion that I had,” Haag said during his discussion with global head of gaming and VR/AR at YouTube, Ryan Wyatt, at PromaxGames 2019.
Now, after a successful career as professional gamer, Haag has created an entire community deriving from esports, one of the industry’s fastest-growing elements. He is the founder and CEO of 100 Thieves, the gaming lifestyle organization that competes in top professional esports like League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Fortnite.
“For me, it was always, ‘Let’s create as much content out of this as I can,’” he said. “Because if I have an interest in this, there’s bound to be other people out there that have an interest in it as well.”
Haag didn’t initially see gaming as a business opportunity. He describes being in “the right place at the right time”—a time when video games were becoming more prevalent, Call of Duty was increasingly popular, and growing technology, like YouTube, allowed him to create content that he loved. But as time went on, his interests began to expand and soon enough, so did his personal brand.
“Video games were a great opportunity for me to have a platform and accrue an audience of people who were interested in me,” Haag said. “But as I got older, there were a lot of things that I really loved besides video games. So I figured if I was creating content around those things…I’ll start making videos about the other things that I’m now passionate about.”
And it was that passion that inspired him to create 100 Thieves in 2017 and realize that collaboration was key to filling a gap in the esports market. Two years after its inception, 100 Thieves has become an outlet not only for competitive gaming, but for storytelling and streetwear as well.
“Collaborating is one of the most important assets and tools you can have to continue to grow your brand. And really for me, it was to stay sane,” Haag said. “I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who were interested in the same things I was to help me create and work towards a common goal.”
To watch Haag and Wyatt’s full session, The Esports Effect: How This Big Business Is Shifting Mindsets and Marketing Strategy, check out the live stream footage on Promax’s YouTube Channel.