Los Angeles-based esports and gaming talent management firm The Kinetic Group (TKG) will announce this week a new “emerging talent” division to be led by former Press X (a UTA division representing brands) Account Manager Joowon Lee.
While you may not be familiar with TKG, it manages popular YouTube/Twitch content creators such as Nicholas “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff (5.2M followers on Twitch, 3.63M on YouTube), Ali “SpyherPK” Hassan (4.4M followers on Twitch, 5.03M on YouTube), and Portuguese FIFA player Anthony “AA9skillz” Machado (597K followers on Twitch, 1.98M on YouTube).
The new division has already signed a trio of Call of Duty Warzone players called the Baka Bros (who collectively have 260.9K followers on Twitch, 85.7K on YouTube), Vtuber CodeMiko (473K followers on Twitch, 149K on YouTube), and Warzone player Charlie “MuteX” Saouma (440K followers on Twitch, 83.3K on YouTube).
This talent is hardly what most would call emerging in the sense that they are already partnered on Twitch and YouTube, have moderately decent followings, and have secured partnerships with endemic brands such as GFUEL, SCUF Gaming, and many others.
Speaking to The Esports Observer, Lee explained TKG’s thinking behind launching this new division:
“Something that is really important when we were looking at talent that we wanted to pick up for the emerging talent division is, yes scale is important, but also the potential for growth I think is much bigger,” Lee told TEO. “So you can technically call a talent emerging if they’re still growing, and all of our [emerging] talents are very new to this space.”
Lee says that these talents were selected for different reasons, but all have an “it” factor that stands out; Baka Bros (made up of three Warzone players: DiazBiffle, Repullze, and Lucky Chamu) foster an inclusive, positive community – something you don’t see a lot in competitive Warzone – and regularly host community competitions with modest prize pools; CodeMiko uses a variety of technology to present herself as an anime-inspired character on screen and speaks to well-known content creators on a regular basis on her Twitch show; and MuteX is a Warzone player who uses a controller (which some in the shooter community frown on) and is currently on a 365-day grind, playing through Christmas, New Year’s and even after he contracted COVID-19.
“He knows that if he wants a dream, he has to put the work and the energy into it, and he’s willing to make that happen,” Lee said. “And it’s rare that you ever come across a talent like that. I am so blessed because I have got talent that really grinds as hard or even harder than I do. Every single day when I’m on the phone with them I am inspired to work harder because you know, if your streamer is working 365 days a year, how can you tell them you’re working any less than that, right?”
TKG founder and CEO Justin Miclat thinks that Lee’s roster of initial talent has the same potential as a NICKMERCS or a SypherPK, but with some early intervention, and a more personable approach that is typically found at agencies of this size, perhaps they will find the same level of growth sooner:
“The talent Joowon represents is just as great and has just as much potential,” Miclat said. “We’re just getting there sooner and providing as much of the same resources that we provide to the NickMercs and the SypherPKs of the world to them because we think that they have that same potential and opportunity.”
Lee, who joined the firm in June of 2020, met TKG founder and CEO Justin Miclat at LA agency Addition LLC during a one-year stint where he served as a partnerships manager before leaving to found his agency in 2018. During her time at Press X, Lee helped brands such as CW’s Batwoman, NASCAR, Fox Sports, and many others with game-related influencer activations on Twitch and YouTube.
TKG has a bit of a mantra for its emerging talent division: “Convert talent into businesses as they grow.” Lee says that a lot of the talent signed with TKG were working with the firm before they were partnered, right after they came back into the business of streaming following some setbacks, or when they finally decided that they were going to treat content creation like a full-time job and take things seriously.
She also believes that good management means helping clients achieve all of their dreams and aspirations beyond just creating content and making money.
“So it’s not only about lines of monetary funds, but also about lines of IP, merchandise, and doing their management, handling their administrative needs, helping them to figure out where to take their content next, if they want to be on a podcast, or if they want to one day be the ‘Top Chef’ in all of America…
“I love working with talent and helping them to do more with their business and it doesn’t always have to do with just making them the big bucks; it also has to do with finding the real reason they got into the business and what they love to do, and helping them to achieve those dreams.”
Speaking more broadly, Miclat explained that TKG isn’t a talent agency; it provides services both in-house and through third-parties when necessary to teach their clients about everything from media training to financial literacy and planning, and much more. What services it can’t provide are sourced to partners or third-parties. Lee calls the services she provides to her clients as “360-degree” management.
“We try to touch on anything and everything that would just be beneficial to support them,” Miclat said. “We don’t claim or believe we know all the answers to everything. We have team members that are exclusively focused on the financial literacy and financial management side of things, but a part of what the management company’s job, at least in our opinion, is to find the exact experts to help them with any given task or issue, so we have outsourced for some talent when they need a financial advisor or financial manager to help support the overarching business. We try to touch on anything and everything that would just be beneficial to support them.”
Finally, when asked if TKG provides crisis management services to its clients for when they do something off-putting or get banned from a platform, Lee said that the company does when needed, but always tells her clients to just stay out of trouble.
“The number one thing that I tell my clients is ‘don’t get in trouble.’ I’ll help you when you get in trouble because that’s my job. I’m going to do whatever I can to get you out of trouble, but just don’t get in trouble. Just don’t do it.”
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