For our next installment of Team Insider to give a different perspective we took some time to speak to John ‘WundA’ Smith-Howell, director at 7AM.
One of the first things we wanted to ask, something John is asked on a regular basis is why manage a Benelux based team? “For me it doesn’t matter where the team are, for me it’s about having the right mix of players who are hungry and ambitious who have the mental strength to take the ups and downs of competitive gaming. Where they are from does not matter to me”
It’s easy when you look at an org to judge their success on the performance of the teams they are home to but in a position such as John’s where the operation is viewed as a whole there are different aspects where achievement can be measured.
We asked John with his unique point of view what the big milestones were for 7AM last year, “Probably one of the biggest milestones was the rebrand, it defines who we are. We have really found our identity with the rebrand from the old clock face logo to the clean, urban look we have now.” With an online presence exceptionally important in the esports scene John also highlights the importance of a physical presence being a highlight of 2019 “Attending LAN with the League team was a milestone as it reinforced our brand and reinforced to everyone on the scene we are not just another org we are 7AM, we are here to stay.”
With branding in conversation we wanted to know what is in a name, why is 7AM called 7AM? “This was created because it’s quick and easy to remember and to see. I believe esports has moved so far into a business realm now that it is actually really important to have a good brand and 7AM gives us so many options when it comes to branding, it’s quite versatile”
As a smaller developing organisation positivity shines through everyone involved but that also means disappointments hit hard throughout. It has been spoken about previously how it was disappointing not to make it to the Belgian League for 2020 but it’s not all bad “of course not getting into the Belgian League was a disappointment but that has enabled us to reassess where we are not only as an org but as a business and work to get us into a position to take a spot when this years splits are complete.”
Something that 7AM is widely commended for is their friendly and humble outlook, something that sits as one for the core values for the organisation, John comments “I think it’s important to be humble in defeat and victory. Defeat has a massive impact mentally so if you have the ability to not let that get to you the that builds strength and character as an individual. Win or lose we don’t gloat, we don’t moan. We are consistent in our approach – we are chilled but people can see our drive.”
Moving onto 2020 one of the main focuses for everyone at 7AM is the new Open Tour Benelux, consisting of 7 stages we asked John what he thought about it “the guys are really looking forward to Open Tour, it will be one of the biggest tournaments to date for some of the players not only as a team but individually and that brings it’s own challenges mentally but I wholly believe these guys have what it takes to win and irrespective of the outcome I know they will give it their everything.”
So as well as Open Tour, what does the rest of 2020 look like for 7AM? “We were very pleased to announce our stream team at the start of the year and this will grow throughout 2020. We also have some exciting news coming in the next couple of months and we continue to work extremely hard in the background to push forward. I truly believe 2020 will be a much bigger year that 2019 was and we are very excited.”
Currently 7AM consists solely of the League of Legends team so to round off our chat we asked if the org has any plans to expand, new teams, new games? “Absolutely we have plans to expand but it’s extremely important to keep the number of members of the org at a minimum whilst we are not in the position to support them, I’d never want to take on additional teams without being in the position to provide sufficient support.”