By Andre LaFontant
Atlanta, GA — The eSports industry has a total annual revenue of over $1 billion, seeing tremendous gains throughout the 2020 pandemic. Well into 2021, leaders within the space continue to ride the creative wave. Enter Wesley Acuff: the head coach and general manager of Hawks Talon GC, the 2K League affiliate for the Atlanta Hawks. Being part of the NBA family for 12 years and possessing a lifelong affinity for gaming, Coach Acuff relishes his multifaceted role. Whether he’s constructing his roster, building the brand, or coaching up in-game strategies, it’s all love to Coach. “I’ve really fallen in love with the challenge of managing six creative personalities. They truly are some of the best in the world at what they do and I feed off of the creative environment,” he begins.
“So when I fall in love with a certain process or a certain creative space,” he continues, “I dive deep. I didn’t see the landscape of gaming evolve in the way that it has, but I always hoped it would.” Before he was Coach, Wesley was key in producing digital shows on platforms like Twitch and sizzle reels for corporate sponsors. Along with having a wealth of knowledge when it comes to content creation, Coach Acuff established himself as among the 250 best 2K players in the world prior to taking full-time managerial responsibilities.
Although he doesn’t find himself with a game controller directly in hand, Coach maintains a winner’s mentality that extends throughout the entire organization. He attributes his demeanor towards success to the late Kobe Bryant. “We know him as a great basketball player,” he explains, “but the way that he carried himself behind the scenes—winning an Oscar for his creativity in storytelling—showed me that you can’t box in your avenues toward success.”
His commitment to constantly growing in the creative space serves as an example to his son, Wesley Jr, as well as the many school children within the Atlanta community. It is an undeniable benefit to understand the many different roles a person can occupy not only in the gaming industry but the broader digital landscape as well. “I want to show that there is more to eSports than just playing the game,” says Coach. There are developers, programmers, hosts, producers, there are so many opportunities. I just want to be informative about our industry and how people in the community could combine their own passions into this lucrative, rapidly expanding space.”