Mark Neace won $700,000 coaching ‘League of Legends’ players

This retired soldier is making a mint that teaches fake warriors how to fight on their computers.

Marc Neacea former army intelligence sergeant, tells people how to play the video game “League of Legends” – the most popular game played at a competitive level in the world.

While esports is gaining momentum – even as an Olympic event – ​​the pool of coaches is still small and the 33-year-old Virginian has risen to the occasion. He estimates that he earned $700,000 last year.

“I’m one of the earliest video game coaches, so I don’t really have to fight to retain customers, as silly as that sounds,” said Neace, who toured Afghanistan over the past year. a four-year military career. “If a fitness trainer heard that, they’d be like, ‘That’s amazing,’ because it’s such a competitive industry and everyone on Instagram is a fitness influencer these days.”

Charging $250 to $300 for 90-minute online sessions, Neace trains more than 1,000 clients a year — including 49ers defensive tackle Kalia Davis; Glassdoor founder Robert Hohman; and popular YouTuber and world-class gamer Richard Blevins, also known as Ninja.

Neace became obsessed with gaming during the days of dial-up internet access, when his father let him play Command and Conquer, a military strategy game. He eventually got so good that no one even tried to beat him.

In high school, Neace snuck into a Halo 2 contest at the University of Maine, acting as the team’s ringer. They stomped the contest and took first place, but Neace couldn’t collect his $100 prize when the judges discovered he wasn’t actually a student there.

“It was the a-ha moment for me – to even have the opportunity to win something through gambling,” he said. “I started thinking, ‘There must be something more I can do with this. “”

Neace charges between $250 and $300 for 90-minute online sessions.
Marc Neace
Neace says he is “one of the first video game coaches”.
André Mags Photography

In 2010, at age 21, he enlisted in the US Army. Serving in the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, his work mirrored the games he played – sifting through massive amounts of data and preparing combat soldiers on how best to carry out their mission – but with much more at stake. Although he never saw combat, his work directly affected the lives of his fellow soldiers.

“While I was deployed there was sleep loss, a lot of stress and there was always this sense of responsibility – was I doing enough to make these guys make the right decisions on the spot? battle?” he said.

Neace’s journey to becoming a successful game coach was a 10-year drudgery fraught with financial hardship, long hours of YouTube content creation and humility, especially when he and his wife had to move in with his parents. .

Marc Neace
The success of the game coach did not happen overnight – he devoted 10 years to Youtube videos.
AFP via Getty Images

He felt like the guy in a fledgling garage band who should have given up on his dreams of success years ago.

“Even my own parents were like, ‘When are you going to get a real job?'” he said.

His wife encouraged him to create his own website where he initially charged $100 for a coaching session, and it quickly took off. Overtime and with a constant flow of customers, he was able to triple his prices.

Mark Neace player
Neace says the player coaching pool is very small which allows him to thrive.
AFP via Getty Images/Christophe Archambault

Neace said he wouldn’t completely recommend people follow in his footsteps.

“I put all my chips in the middle of this thing, and it worked, but it couldn’t have been,” he said.

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