This week would normally mark our five year anniversary at LAN Mob. 2020 has unfortunately found us victim to the impacts of COVID and we’re six months into a state mandated shutdown. I still field calls and messages daily asking when we’ll be reopening and reminding us what an important role we play for many in the community, and not a day goes by that I’m not thinking of reopening.

I could spend this blog reflecting on the last five years, but given the wild state of the world I thought this post would be better spent reflecting on some of the changes that we haven't yet brought to the area, and some thoughts on how the future might play out for us.

Esports


We've remained busy with Rome Revolution through the pandemic, and I'm happy with how the League of Legends team has progressed and continues to grow. 2020 brought a major shift to the approach and I'm really proud of what's been accomplished to date. Most of the progress this year has been without my involvement as I've taken more of a back seat role, but I feel like our understanding of the game and what it takes to field and grow a team is at an all time high, and the attitude is 100% in the right place. I learn more about the game every time I watch them play and they really feel like the strongest iteration of the team we've ever had.

The players are the only persons able to utilize the shop during the pandemic, and I understand the need for more resources here. The amateur scene really is the wild west in terms of org structure and stability, and I would like to see it develop similar to the way football has developed in the UK. I think with the developments in Clash this year we may not be that far off, but LCS is also tied by franchising rights that makes the ascent for new orgs a difficult path. As the off-season is approaching I'm excited to watch Worlds 2020 in China and can't wait to see what changes are in store for League of Legends 2021.

I'm also happy to see an uptick in interest from local colleges and high schools looking to develop esports programs for their students. I could spend paragraphs listing the benefits of having these programs, and I've been offering all my support to the schools to get these up and running. Through my experience working with youth and esports - personal successes and failures -  I can't pay enough respect to the teachers and coaches that work with youth day in and day out. It can be incredibly challenging, sometimes unrewarding work, but they have my deep respect.

Youth esports brings a lot of challenges. In any given game one side is going to lose, so how do you teach kids to have a healthy approach to losing? Or how to manage feelings of cynicism and negativity and the pressures of social media? How do you bring together kids of varying backgrounds and teach them a mutual respect for each other and their opponents? Esports is at the crossroads of so many of the important issues kids are facing today.

So many students need what these programs can offer in a structured way, and a healthy CNY esports scene is going to greatly increase the caliber of talent from our region. There are future potential pro players sitting in local middle schools right now - I know because I've met them and watched them destroy adults who have been honing their craft for years. There just exists today no accessible program for them to accelerate their learning. Through my experiences in this space I've come to the conclusion the youth esports initiatives has to start with the schools - the support structure is already there from teachers to guidance counselors to athletics coaches. We're ready to assist however we can.

LAN Mob Venue


Probably the greatest amount of thought for me during the downtime has been spent with the venue. I have a vision for what I want the LAN to be and it's drastically different from what exists today. At the time I did the best I could with the resources available to me, and a lot of people have told us it's the greatest thing to happen to the city in a long time, but for me it's nowhere near where it needs to be.

2020 was going to be a big year for us to make a step up, but the world had other plans. The time away has been great to provide me the space to really think deeply on what a venue needs and what the next shop will look like. That's been clarifying more each day in my mind.

Self Improvement


In a sense the past five years has been a great trial run in understanding how this industry works and what's needed to succeed. It's also clarified for me what my role is in the business. I've known since day one that I was building the kind of business that I love to work at, but what I've had to learn along the way was in what ways I can best apply my skills.

So through operating the LAN since September 2015 I've learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses, where I can make the biggest impact and where I need to tread carefully.  I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't, and why. 

I spend a lot of time thinking about other business ideas now. I think my heart will always be with the LAN, but also the knowledge and confidence I've gained through building and operating the LAN has pushed me to consider new startup ideas. I have a half dozen in mind, some overlapping with the LAN and others having very little to do with gaming. Maybe the personal drive is partly being fueled by the shutdown, and I'm not sure if it's in the cards for 2020, but I may be launching more startups in 2021.

When Will LAN Mob Be Back?


It's hard to say! There has been a continued gradual lifting of restrictions on bowling alleys, gyms, and other venues, and the COVID rate in Oneida County continues to trend towards zero. I think most likely we'll see a re-opening around when a COVID vaccine becomes widely available, so somewhere in the late 2020-early 2021 timeline. That is only a few months out! Until then we thank everyone for their patience and for all the support you've given us over the past five years. COVID-19 for many businesses was a disruptive event, and it's touched countless lives for the worse. For those of us who have kept our health when so many are sick or dying, we should count our blessings and be grateful.
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