In esport for a few years now, Clément “LeLfe” Laparra has made a place for himself. From editor at aAa, to Manager of the Vitality LCS team, he is now the director of the detection section of the prestigious French team! His background, his ambitions, his roles, he tells us everything!
KYKLOS: Hello LELfe! For those who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself, looking backward at your academic track record before you entered the esport industry, please?
LELFE: Hi! Well, my name is Clément, I’m 32 years old. Yeah, I’m kind of a dinosaur in the business. I did two years of Maths prep school and then one year in engineering school but I didn’t like it much so I went into business. I was still uncertain about what I wanted to do. So I joined digital-service companies and worked there between 2011 and 2018. And now I’m in esport.
K: And in this market what have you done so far?
L: I started on Call of Duty as a player. But studies began to take up a lot of room in my life and I let go the project of having a strong in-game level. When I came back, we had gone from CoD II to CoD Modern Warfare, and the level gap was too big, but I still wanted to stay in touch with the good-level players I had been with before so I took on the role of manager. My role was mainly to prepare scrims, debrief them from time to time and accompany them on LAN. That was in 2007. Besides, at that time, Twitch didn’t exist, so it was quite difficult to follow the live events, except by listening to webradios. And there was one that worked quite well, but I thought their CoD caster didn’t know enough about the game so I went to help them. I stopped everything to go to China for a semester.
When I came back, CoD was already starting to decrease, and the only real esport game was Starcraft II. I liked the game, and even if my friends on CoD had stopped, I still wanted to keep a link with esport. I told myself that I had some knowledge of the environment, that I knew how to write, so why not become an editor. Eventually, I waited for the recruitment offers and it was aAa who recruited me. Once in the structure, I was also able to express my managerial skills so I was also on the Starcraft team staff, I was able to work with Pomf and Thud so the whole O’Gaming team, with Gamekult too. Then I left aAaa, and at that moment I was contacted by RedBull, which led me to sympathize with the people of Vitality and that’s what allowed me to end up here.
K: Was there a big difference between being an editor at AAA and being an editor at RedBull?
L: On aAa, you address purists, specialists, so you have to be technical and precise, but you can also afford private jokes with the community. RedBull, on the other hand, is more mainstream, so you’re in the storytelling flow.
K: How did you do it, when you were more focused on CoD and Starcraft, and whose profession was the basis of being an editor, to finally become manager of Vitality’s League of Legends team?
L: I thought I had done all my work, I wanted to change. Vitality hadn’t thought about recruiting me at the grassroots level because manager is not necessarily the most rewarding position compared to what I used to do. However they were looking for one, and I was interested, even if it was not a career objective in itself. I thought I needed a door to integrate the structure, and then do something other than manage a team within Vitality. So I’ve been living in Berlin for a year now, it went well, and I signed up again for a year with the trust of Vitality’s top management.
K: What is your role as a manager at Vitality?
L: Wherever you are, the role of manager is somewhere between the mother and the project manager. Sometimes you will just accompany the players in basic life tasks, while at other times you will find yourself involved in sponsor management, managing team logistics. To sum up, my role is to take care of everything, so that the team only has to sit down and perform.
K: The Vitality LOL team went to Worlds in Korea, can you tell us how you experienced it?
L: I already had less work because we were staying in a hotel, so almost everything was done for us. I just had to make sure that the communications were going well and that we met Riot’s requirements. So for me in terms of work it was lighter, but it was more intense. A day of competition at Worlds is more stressful than a day of LCS, because the timings are much tighter.
On a more personal level, I wasn’t really disoriented since we spent a certain amount of time with the Riot European teams we used to meet in LCS. Even the venues we played in weren’t that impressive. Finally what was impressive was that all the teams were staying in the same hotel, so you could meet Uzi, you took the elevator with Doublelift, so finally it was a small world of pro-gamers.
K: You had the opportunity to discuss with managers from other teams, coming from different regions, can you explain to us the differences you have noticed between European and other management?
L: I talked to Americans, especially Stardust who is a former member of the Starcraft scene, a little bit with Team Liquid people, and one thing came out is that the staff was much more important. As they have raised a lot of money, they can afford to have large teams to support their players.
K: After the Worlds, you continued until the end of the year as a manager. But can you tell us about your current position?
L: So I am currently Director of Talent Detection. It is a huge project. We are starting from the ground because esport scouting does not exist or only slightly, and strategically it could be interesting to be the first to identify young talents, and secondly to be a main actor in the economy that goes with the care and development of young talents. By that I mean that we do not want to buy and resell, but rather we would like to create a large global network of actors who know their local scene to carry out spotting. And find experts in various games because I’m not an expert in all games. The idea will be to identify, either according to a specific request from us, or following a more general monitoring. Another thing, if I ever come across a very promising Taiwanese, I can’t send him in LEC directly. So we will need partnerships with local clubs to ensure the development of players, in the same way as in any traditional sport.
K: How did the creation of the LFL roster go?
L: We had posted an ad on our site allowing players to apply. At the end of the tryouts, we finally selected 10 players, then only 3, and we were able to enter into negotiations to recruit the last two players. Then we recruited the staff. And honestly we are satisfied with our results.
K: How do you see the French esport scene evolution?
L: This is the consequence of the worldwide explosion of esport. France is one of the driving forces behind esport, and more and more people are trying to do things, like creating new businesses, but above all to do things right. Now, the requirements are higher, so the environment can only improve. In addition, more and more people are making a living from it. There are more and more pros, so more and more shows, so people are increasingly willing to pay to watch it, so more money, more pros, and we are in a virtuous circle.
K: Well, that’s all for us. Thank you very much it was very interesting!
L: Thank you for these questions!