Careers in Esports: Melia Anguiano, Operations Manager for Sentinels

Esports organizations require a lot of employees to function properly. Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case that you actually get a lot of employees and sometimes you have to wear a lot of hats.

We talked with Melia Anguiano, Operations Manager for the Sentinels, about what her responsibilities are and just how many different hats she wears for them.

If you’re not familiar with the Sentinels, they managed the LA Gladiators for two years for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and are home to Fortnite World Cup winner, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf and Overwatch League 2019 MVP, Jay “sinatraa” Won.

Check them out at www.sentinels.gg

To start off with, what is your academic background?

I graduated high school in 2006 and I only recently started going to college in the summer of 2017. I’m attending Full Sail University, which is based out of Florida. For me, learning online is just better. I don’t have to deal with parking or getting up in the morning. I’m doing an online program for Media Communications and the program focuses on different skill sets that you’ll need to communicate via media. We learned about social media and how to use those, the Adobe Creative Suite, and many other programs. Website design as well.

We learn the basics of how to build a brand and communicate visually. I’ll be graduating in September of this year.

Awesome! And how did you get into esports?

I was previously working at Apple for nine years, as a genius fixing computers. I’ve always been into video games and esports, but I was realizing I didn’t want to work in retail or a mall for the rest of my life.

I looked around, and I didn’t feel like I was qualified for anything I was seeing in esports, but I was perusing Reddit at 1:30AM before I went to sleep, and I saw a post for a student internship for the LA Gladiators. 

I was really into the Overwatch League and they were my team. I fixed up my resume up the next day and applied and I got the internship.

I started with the internship and they decided to keep me full time at the end of the internship and I became the Digital Marketing Coordinator for the LA Gladiators and the LA Sentinels. More recently, I got promoted to Operations Manager and I focus on the Sentinels now since we aren’t partnered with the LA Gladiators anymore.

Now the Sentinels were in a unique position where they basically ran the LA Gladiators for two years. Can you tell me a bit about what you did as the Digital Marketing Coordinator there?

When I was an intern, the primary responsibility was to manage the website for the Gladiators. Posting press releases, building the graphics; I had to build a press page from scratch because they didn’t have one at the time.

A lot of that carried over into being the Digital Marketing Coordinator, but I also started getting into inventory and ordering the merchandise that we needed for our events—team of the day or frontline activations that we did—sourcing the products, ordering it, QCing it. I wrote the press releases, too.

When you work in esports, you wear a lot of hats. Those were my primary duties, in addition to a bit of everything else in the office.

Okay, back to Sentinels, you got promoted to Operations Manager, what exactly does that mean you do?

My positions have all built on themselves, so the things I was doing previously I’m also doing now.

Now I’m completely responsible for all of our press and interview coordination with all of our players. When any outlet reaches out I take that request and see if it’s something we want to pursue or decline.

I’m also responsible for managing our email server and any programs we need like Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite. I make sure our staff has the tools they need to do their job every day. I still manage the website, too. 

I am responsible for player and staff onboarding. Anytime we sign a new player or employee I give them the welcome spiel. I make sure they have all their social media assets—any Sentinels branded graphic you see was delivered by me. I make sure they get their merchandise as well.

Speaking of merchandise, I handle all merchandise logistics. I’m the person that is the messenger between the Sentinels and our merchandise provider. I make sure it’s at the right price, that they have the right design file so that the item can go out successfully. 

The last thing I do that is important is player management. We have about 20 players on the Sentinels and between me and a co-worker, we split them pretty much down the middle. I help my players with updated graphics, different sizes of merch if they need it, growing their stream.

Any questions they have I pretty much help them with. I also help them build their brands; they’re on Sentinels, they represent us, but they’re also individuals. Part of my goal is to help them grow individually so they have their own voice.

That is a lot. You answered a bit of it already, but what would you say are the unique challenges you have to deal with as an Operations Manager. I imagine some of it has to do with the five teams you field.

We do have a lot of teams. This past weekend we had our VALORANT team play, our Halo team playing, and our Apex team playing. It’s a bit challenging to make sure we have all the graphics and videos we need when there are multiple tournaments running at once.

We try to prep graphics and tweets in advance so we’re not stressing about writing copy. We could place, we could not place. We just want to make sure we have everything as prepared as possible. 

From last year, when Bugha won the Fortnite World Cup, that was something we were all watching—we would love it if he would win and then he did win. None of us were ready. So we learned from that experience to always be overprepared.

So you wished you would have had graphics for Champion, First Place, Second Place?

Yeah, and we didn’t have a tweet ready, we didn’t have merch ready. On top of that, all of his accounts got hacked immediately after the World Cup. So we had to deal with that and celebrate him at the same time.

We also got a better understanding of how to deal with the press. He got a lot of interview requests. He was on Jimmy Fallon!

That challenging situation taught us a lot in how to be prepared for stuff now.

What should a high school student do to put themselves on the same career path?

This one is challenging for me since I had a weird path. I took general courses after high school. If there are any business operations courses they can take or internships. Any kind of experience in their school related to business, operations, or management, that can help a lot.

Make sure you’re building organization skills. Simple things like using calendars and lists. If there’s a club at your school, try to get involved there. Club management or a club officer is a great way to develop some useful skills.

Any final advice for a student who is looking to get into esports?

My best bit of advice I was ever told was from my dad: “No, if you don’t try.” I would say, you’re already sitting at a no, give it a shot! Find something you’re passionate about and don’t give up.

As long as you stay true to what your passions are, it will align. But if you see any opportunities along the way, don’t be afraid to go for them. Just like me, it could be from a random Reddit post.

What do you think of scholastic esports?

If I had something like that in my school, I would have flipped out. It would have been the coolest thing. I just had sports or debate club… things I didn’t have a huge interest in. Don’t get me wrong, I did soccer and cheerleading and ran track, but having an outlet with my friends, like video games in school, would have been incredible for me. 

As long as it doesn’t turn into a LAN café, it can be really important because it builds teamwork and communication skills. Just thinking about Overwatch, it helps a lot of you can communicate as a team. 

It teaches you critical thinking and problem solving. How do we move the payload? How do we get past them?

The most important thing it teaches is how to give and receive feedback. That was one of the most important things I learned from Apple. There’s a proper way to give feedback without being rude and I think an esports club can teach that and that can help with people’s interactions online in social media or in-game.

What do you love most about esports?

I really like that it’s a crossover of two things that I already like: sports and video games. My husband and I are really big into baseball, hockey, and football, and we’re both really into video games.

It’s just fun to be a part of this community. I love being around other people that love being nerds. If I think about something like the Overwatch World Cup, just being in that arena, or even Blizzard Arena, the crowd is so passionate and it’s a fun environment to be in. 

I really like that anybody can do it. You don’t have to be a sports prodigy, you can literally just pick up a game, grind it, get really good at it, and you can be the next esports star.

As far as working in esports, it feels really good because I finally found a job that I enjoy doing that it truly doesn’t feel like I’m working. I know it’s a cliché statement, but every day is something fun and exciting and new. I love being here and I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon that Reddit post.