You are, statistically speaking, not the best video gamer in the world, but a new service wants to help you get closer to the top.
Gamer Sensei is an esports platform that wants to connect ambitious players with knowledgeable coaches. The company has already raised $2.3 million in a seed-funding round led by investment groups Accomplice and Boston Seed Capital. Sigma Prime, FJ Labs, Corigin Ventures, and Timothy & Todd McSweeney also participated in the funding. Gamer Sensei plans to use this cash to increase its team in an effort to ensure its platform meets the expectations of a demanding esports community that is worth more than $800 million in revenue just from events and tournaments.
Pro gaming is growing rapidly, and many young people have dreams of playing League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at the highest levels. Naturally, that is creating a market for coaches to come in and help these players achieve their goals. Gamer Sensei is stepping into that space with a roster of coaches and partnerships with pro organizations like NRG Esports and top players like Cloud9’s Hearthstone and Starcraft II pro, StrifeCro, who has won eight tournaments and ranks 10th in career winnings for Blizzard’s market-dominating card game.
“The current market is a nightmare,” Gamer Sensei cofounder William Collis told GamesBeat. “There are a confusing array of claims and services online, and most just end up stealing your Battle.net ID or credit card.”
That doesn’t mean Gamer Sensei doesn’t have any competition. Esports Coaching Network, Gamer Institute, and more all offer ways to help skilled players sharpen their abilities. But Gamer Sensei is trying to separate itself by offering customized coaching for every kind of gamer.
“No professional service exists for gamers of all levels, grounded in numbers and metrics to determine its effectiveness,” said Collis. “But there’s also incredible, pent-up demand. It’s the reason we’ve already credentialed hundreds of Sensei [or coaches] and enlisted thousands of gamers in just two months of private alpha.”
The coaching comes in 1-on-1 sessions, and the startup is using a proprietary algorithm to match players with the right instructor. It all happens online with full voice chat. And the company is putting a lot of emphasis on how this is coaching for people trying to learn a game to play with friends all the way up to someone who is vying for an esports career.
“Gamer Sensei started because I was frustrated by the lack of options to improve at Hearthstone,” Gamer Sensei cofounder William Collis said. “Despite watching streams and reading forums, we still struggled without a personalized and highly skilled service to target professional improvement. It just felt bad losing all the time and feeling like there had to be a better way.”
And Gamer Sensei claims it is measurably better.
“For newer players, I’d prefer not to generalize improvements since every game measures progress differently,” Gamer Sensei cofounder Rohan Gopaldas said. “Instead, I’ll use a popular title like Hearthstone as an example. A newer player could expect to improve two ranks over the course of a lesson, at a minimum. And these results would obviously improve the more the student worked with their Sensei. In Hearthstone, it’s not uncommon for us to take a new student and help them achieve Legend in the course of a single month.”
With those kinds of results, Gopaldas says they have people returning for multiple lessons as well as referral traffic and word-of-mouth buzz.
“And we expect even more of our customers to come back when they hit additional walls in the future,” he added.
When you do hit that wall, Gamer Sensei claims its algorithm is smart enough to understand exactly what you need to improve. Collis explained it best when I asked for free tips.
“If I offer an OverWatch tip — like standing on the Payload rejuvenates health — this advice may be a big realization to newer players but obvious to more experienced ones,” he said. “The beauty of Gamer Sensei is we match to each gamer’s individual level. Your Sensei explains only what you need to know and cuts out the clutter of what you don’t.”