Interview with Nate Schanker, M80 Co-Founder
Yoann: Hello everyone! This week I'm with Nate, co-founder of M80!
Nate: Hey, I'm Nate Schanker, I’m 21, and I'm one of the co-founders of M80! About seven months ago, I left XSET to pursue my own work with M80.
Yoann: Awesome! When and how did you get into esports?
Nate: It's a funny story. I was selling sneakers and streetwear at my own pop-up shop, when I was 16 years old. I saw on Snapchat that my neighbor posted a story saying that he won $60,000 playing Fortnite.
I was like, What the hell is this? I messaged him and he basically explained what esports is.
I had no idea what esports was at the time. I played Fortnite casually but I never had a PC, and I thought there was an opportunity for me to use my skills to help him and potentially make a career out of it.
So I started working with him for free, running social media and worked my way into his friend group. They were also pros at the time. Then, after that, once Valorant got announced, I networked my way into the top pros in this game, TenZ, Asuna, Dicey...
I was running socials for them for a while and then started getting noticed by some esports organizations and ultimately signed to XSET as the head of social. I worked with them for two and a half years.
Yoann: That’s amazing! How did you end up co-founding an esports org in 2022?
Nate: Marco, the CEO of M80, was formerly the COO of XSET. He was the one who hired me at XSET when I was 18. I was working hand-in-hand with him for two and a half years at XSET. In August, he left XSET, and asked me if I wanted to co-found M80 as we shared the same vision of how we wanted to start a brand new esports organization. As I’m extremely entrepreneurial I jumped on that in a second.
It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I've always been entrepreneurial, when I was like 15, I built a follower network of 8 million on Instagram. I've always been doing my own things and working for myself.
Yoann: That’s incredible! How has the journey been so far?
Nate: It's been crazy. The growth has definitely exceeded my expectations. We're already at 45,000 followers on Twitter, and we had a great first merch drop. I really didn't think we were going to get this big of a fanbase this early on. We have dedicated fans watching all of our teams, which is very rare at this early stage of any sport.
Yoann: You have very good players as well!
Nate: Absolutely, yeah!
Yoann: What changed for you as a person since the org foundation?
Nate: I've realized I have to be extremely professional and wear a bunch of hats now compared to when I was just running socials for XSET.
This is a higher level opportunity, so it's a lot more work
Yoann: Yeah, of course. What are M80 esports values?
Nate: We're really big into building a welcoming community within esports, inclusivity is very important to us. We're looking to potentially get into Game Changers, highlighting women in esports is something that we stand for, and want to push more out.
We want to be the best, we want to be the number one organization in the game we play in. Valorant, Rocket League, R6, and Street Fighter.
Yoann: That’s great! Your Valorant team won the first NA challengers split ahead of the Ascension League, so what's the secret behind your success in Valorant?
Nate: It's definitely the hard work that I see these players put in. I'm in the Discord where the Valorant players scrim in. Every single time I check that Discord, they are always there practicing.
They're all in a house in Texas, having them all in one central location has definitely helped them get closer, and perform at the highest level.
Yoann: Synergy wise it's super important, a lot of teams today are boot camping ahead of tournaments.
Nate: Yeah 100%! A few years ago I didn't realize how important that was, having the players hanging out outside the server. Just doing simple team building stuff, it's crucial.
Yoann: What would you say to someone willing to pursue Valorant or esports in general?
Nate: Putting as much work as you can, and always have a backup plan. I know a lot of players put their all into this. It's a very competitive scene, it's very hard to go pro. Today there are tons of opportunities within college, with scholarships and esports, all these programs. Always try to keep a backup plan if it doesn’t go your way.
Yoann: Definitely, players like Zekken for example are doing that. These pros will be examples for future generations. Playing at the top level and still going to class and doing homework.
Nate: When I was in the boot camp for LCQ with XSET, Zekken was in a ranked game in the practice room, and in between rounds, he was like writing an essay, it was incredible. I think he had over 30 kills in that game!
Yoann: I'm sure he got a great mark as well.
Nate: Yeah 100% haha!
Yoann: Let's switch to the quick questions. I'm going to ask you 10 quick questions. You'll have to answer as fast as possible. Ready?
Phantom or Vandal?
Yoann: What's your favorite map?
Yoann: Nice! What's your favorite agent?
Yoann: Do you prefer getting an insane clutch or an ace?
Nate: A clutch!
Yoann: What's your favorite skin collection?
Nate: Maybe champions.
Yoann: Can you name the seven teams that won an international event?
Nate: Oh, Fnatic, Sentinels, Loud, Acend, Optic…
Yoann: Gambit and FPX are the two remainings!
What's your favorite social media platform?
Nate: Twitter. Definitely the best platform for esports.
Yoann: Are you traveling with the team?
Nate: For the future events, yes. The Valorant team hasn’t traveled yet, but yes, I will be with them.
Yoann: Can you quote a voice line from Jett?
Nate: “Watch this!”
Yoann: Do you play the premier Beta?
Nate: I couldn’t find a team, no one wants to play with me. I'm Diamond, and all my friends are immortal and radiant.
Yoann: Diamond is not bad at all!
Let's get back to the standard questions now.
What's the work routine of a co-founder in esports?
Nate: I guess this is like wearing a bunch of different hats. From partnerships to raising money, to marketing, all of that stuff. It's not really one set thing that I'm doing, it's doing a bunch of stuff I’m doing behind the scenes.
Yoann: What's your favorite game of all time?
Nate: It has to be Valorant!
Yoann: Are you playing with M80’s staff or players?
Nate: Yeah, I actually play with Johnqt a lot. I also play with Dani, G2’s coach. We have been really good friends even before M80, we play all the time.
Yoann: The finals in NA Challenges must have been very fun for you, M80 VS G2!
Nate: It's a lot of shit talking between us, but that’s all very fun.
Yoann: Hopefully in Ascension later this year!
Yoann: What are your hobbies or passions aside from gaming?
Nate: I think the biggest one that I recently picked up, about eight months ago is weight lifting, working out at the gym. It definitely has helped me with my mental and all that kind of stuff. I love playing sports, my favorite one to play and watch is tennis!
Yoann: Nice! What are your short and long term ambitions with the team?
Nate: Short term is definitely making it to the franchise league. That's our number one goal right now, and supporting the players as much as we can, for all of our titles, Rocket League, R6, Valorant, and Street Fighter.
Long term would be to have some subbrands just like 100 Thieves. They're also in development with a game. So yeah, potentially getting into game development and having smaller companies within M80.
Yoann: Expand in the gaming world in general.
Nate: Yeah, exactly!
Yoann: Is there anything else you wanted to add to this interview?
Nate: I really think that people should be on the lookout for M80 the upcoming year. I think we've already done so much in seven months, this is just the beggining, we're only going to get bigger.
Yoann: Awesome! Thank you so much for your time, I hope to see you in Valorant Ascension later this year!
Nate: Thank you for the interview!
Nate’s Twitter: @nateschanker
M80’s Twitter: @M80gg
M80’s website: m80.gg