Nov 13, 2020 - Sports

The Woj of esports is a free agent

Jacob (right) at the 2018 Esports Awards. Photo: Jacob Wolf

Jacob (right) at the 2018 Esports Awards. Photo: Jacob Wolf

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski breaks NBA news with his patented "Woj bombs." Jacob Wolf does the same thing for esports. Nickname: "Wolf bombs."

Driving the news: ESPN is shutting down its entire esports division, part of the latest rounds of layoffs the company announced last week.

  • This means that Wolf, who was already set to leave when his contract expired in January, is officially a free agent starting Friday.

His backstory: Wolf played Call of Duty semi-professionally as a young teenager before ultimately deciding to pursue a software engineering degree.

  • But by his sophomore year of college in 2014, he'd found himself on a career path as an esports journalist, thanks to his penchant for breaking news.
  • "I started out as a volunteer at Esports Heaven, and I immediately began networking with as many people as possible through social media," Wolf tells Axios. "Over time, those connections led me to information that only I knew."
  • He started breaking news and working his way up in the industry, earning enough money to drop out of school and pursue esports journalism full-time.
  • In 2016, on the eve of his 20th birthday, ESPN made Wolf the youngest non-intern ever hired at the company.

The landscape: Esports commentators often host their own shows on YouTube, but larger news publications have also gotten into the esports news business. Here's a sampling of the landscape as Wolf enters free agency...

  • Launcher: A Washington Post section.
  • Dexerto: The most high-profile independent outlet.
  • G4: Launching next year; as part of NBC/Comcast.
  • The Esports Observer: Partially owned by SportsBusiness Journal.
  • HLTV: Focuses coverage around "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" and was recently acquired by a sports betting firm for $41 million.

The last word: During the end of our conversation, Wolf shared a personal anecdote about why he feels an obligation to use his platform in a positive way and always be approachable to his audience.

"At the end of the day, it's only recently cool to be a fan of video games. So a lot of our audience was the nerd that got picked on in school — and in some cases, they're the nerd that still does.
"I was that kid until seventh grade, so making people feel accepted, and letting them know that they can reach out or ask me a question anytime — that's super important to me."
Jacob Wolf

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