Former Blizzard Arena employee opens up after company layoffs

Olivia R. February 15, 2019

Activision-Blizzard’s massive employee layoffs quickly became a topic of discussion within the esports community. An anonymous former employee took to Reddit to open up about their experience working at the Blizzard Arena.

The former employee said they’d heard rumors of possible layoffs two weeks before they were officially announced. Despite not being told they were laid off until the day it happened, the ex-employee didn’t seem to hold any animosity towards Activision-Blizzard.

“The employees at Blizzard are far and away the best I’ve ever worked with at any company,” they said. “People in each department worked hard and were passionate about their job. That kind of mentality is contagious and makes people want to work even harder.”

And it takes a lot of work to put on an Overwatch League show.

On a show day, the former employee said there would be over 100 people working at the Blizzard Arena, including camera crew, player relations managers, ushers, and IT personnel. They would all come in about three hours before the first match, testing technical components before the doors opened. During show time, employees would manage the broadcast and help players get set up on stage.

With the amount of work that goes into production, Reddit users expressed surprise that so many layoffs affected the esports division of Activision-Blizzard, especially after learning that the league was expanding in 2019. This included adding more seating to Blizzard Arena for Season 2 matches.

Before Season 2, each team had its own rooms to practice in at the arena. Due to the OWL expansion, the practice rooms are now only available on game days for practicing. The teams do most of their practicing in their home facilities throughout the Los Angeles area. This was a Season 2 change that many employees were secretly relieved about, according to the AMA host.

“Let’s just say that last year, the players spent more time scrimmaging than they did keeping the rooms clean and hygienic,” they said.

The former employee still enjoyed working with the pro players, mentioning Aaron “Bischu” Kim, Lane “Surefour” Roberts, Scott “Custa” Kennedy, Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, and Austin “Muma” Wilmot as his favorites to interact with. The official Los Angeles Gladiators Reddit account responded, thanking the employee for their time helping out at the Arena.

While the nameless individual did say they would still attend Overwatch League matches, they did recall a few negative crowd experiences. They spoke to a time when some female fans would “screech” every time their favorite Houston Outlaws players “did anything at all.” They called the experience “awful,” noting that it was heard all throughout the arena. But, they added, “you’d rather have overzealous fans than people who sit there quietly.”  

The former employee also noted that OWL host Soe Gschwind-Penski was hit on by “everyone” and had over 1,200 pending friend requests. Even on game days with pros in attendance, she might have been the most popular person in the room.

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