Former UCLA soccer standout secures new spotlight in productive esports YouTube channel

Former UCLA soccer standout secures new spotlight in successful esports YouTube channel

For the duration of his time at UCLA, Evan Raynr was most identified for his performances on the soccer field.

In his 2012 senior season with the Bruins, the midfielder led the Pac-12 with ten assists, completed fourth nationally in assists with .63 per game and was drafted 36th all round in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft by D.C. United.

But he usually wondered if the pitch was exactly where he belonged.

Ditching the pitch

“While I was playing soccer, I usually had this notion, ‘Hey, I wonder if I’ll ever get a opportunity to attempt writing or acting or anything else,’” Raynr mentioned.

So when D.C. United wanted Raynr to play on its decrease-tier USL group just before earning a spot on its key roster, Raynr decided to finish his degree at UCLA as an alternative.

“My believed procedure was, I’ll be the very same soccer player in 3 months,” Raynr mentioned. “I’m going to have fairly significantly the very same physique and the very same ability.”

The midfielder from Calabasas, California, had played in 78 games for the Bruins from 2009 to 2012. He scored 28 objectives and had 16 assists in that span and earned himself a second-group All-Pac-12 choice his senior year.

But soon after finishing his degree, Raynr didn’t finish up playing soccer professionally.

“The second I stopped (playing), I just felt like, ‘You know, I had a terrific profession,’” Raynr mentioned. “I proved that I could get to that level, but I just didn’t see that financially getting anything that was scalable.”

He as an alternative started functioning aspect time for a household pal, watching her young children and playing soccer with them.

“My huge concentrate (in taking this job) was to get out of this 9 (a.m.) to five (p.m.) grind so I can then take that time and leverage anything that I could scale into one more business enterprise or type of earnings,” Raynr mentioned.

Playing video games quickly became that type of earnings.

Human cheat code

Raynr was a gamer his complete life and carried his adore for gaming with him into college.

His teammate at UCLA, midfielder Amobi Okugo, mentioned Raynr usually got the very best of him on the console.

“We played Nintendo 64 in all probability six days out of the week,” Okugo mentioned. “He would cheat. In Mario Tennis, he knew all the angles or anything. He would just in no way shed.”

Okugo mentioned Raynr’s passion for gaming often triggered him to be teased by his teammates, with older players asking why he was usually playing video games.

On the other hand, Raynr mentioned his functionality on the pitch served as a defense for his gaming habits.

“I actually brought a Television and a Nintendo 64 and 4 controllers onto our group bus from driving from right here to Riverside or San Diego,” Raynr mentioned. “I would set it up and coach would be like, ‘What are you performing, man?’ Me and my buddies (would laugh) and he (couldn’t) say something due to the fact we just scored the winning target final game.”

Raynr’s father, uncle and his seven other cousins are also gamers, and their passion gave him the self-confidence to continue playing in the face of taunting.

This supportive neighborhood encouraged Raynr to come to be a far better gamer. He mentioned he would watch other persons play video games on YouTube, but he noticed there was a lack of videos explicitly teaching much less knowledgeable players how to enhance.

“I would appear up how to play specific characters in League of Legends or Smite, and some of these dudes are barely saying something,” Raynr mentioned. “They’re dominating, but inform me how to do this ability. And I was like, ‘Man, let me do this.’”

“Never give up”

Raynr developed the YouTube channel Raynday Gaming – a pun primarily based on his final name – in 2014, exactly where he started posting gameplay tutorials of the well-known multiplayer on line battle arena game, Smite. Inside the initial six months, Raynday Gaming had accumulated three,000 subscribers, and would surpass one hundred,000 subscribers the following year.

Raynr broadened the scope of his channel by choosing up one more MOBA shooting game, Paladins. And when Apex Legends, a initial-individual, battle royal shooter game, dropped in February 2019, he played that as effectively.

Apex Legends content material saw his subscriber count to jump from 177,286 to 213,742 in a single month – according to the social media statistic tracking web page Social Blade – and the game quickly became the concentrate of his channel. The channel’s development continued, and on March 27, 2020, the international esports organization Gen.G announced that it had brought Raynr on as a content material creator.

Gen.G’s Associate Director of Talent and Content material Approach, Amanda Kane, mentioned she signed Raynr soon after seeing the character he brought to video games.

“I saw how optimistic and driven and passionate he is about his content material and every thing he does, and I just knew he was meant for the group,” Kane mentioned. “(Raynr’s) power is unmatched by any other gamer I’ve noticed.”

On the other hand, Raynr’s power is not just an act for viewers. Kane mentioned that Raynr’s character continues off camera.

“It’s the very same individual (on and off camera),” Kane mentioned. “(Raynr) indicates what he says when he’s on camera.”

An instance of Raynr living up to his on-camera character can be located on his YouTube banner, which reads “Never give up! Never ever quit gaming!”

The former Bruin mentioned this motto came from playing Smite.

“When you are losing a game in Smite, there’s this selection to press F6 and if 4 persons out of 5 press it, you surrender,” Raynr mentioned. “There is a button named F7 which is in no way surrender. I constructed a complete brand off of in no way surrendering due to the fact the greatest moments in games and in sports and every thing is when you are down and and you turn it about. I would in no way want to surrender due to the fact … I do not want to shed like that.”

Viral in spite of the virus

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, Raynr has kept his optimistic attitude and continues to post content material. He mentioned the pandemic has permitted for esports to attain bigger audiences due to the fact of the cancellation of lots of reside sports.

“The pandemic produced me busier than I’ve ever been, due to the fact there was such a dearth of content material in what usually is airing on Fox Sports and ESPN and items like this,” Raynr mentioned. “It truly place a lot of stress on our broadcasts.”

Raynr had the chance to operate as a broadcaster for the Madden Bowl – a tournament to determine the Madden 2020 champion with a $220,000 prize pool – functioning six specials and two reside shows on ESPN. He mentioned that the tv coverage has offered him faith in the viability of esports.

“(ESPN’s coverage of esports) has (offered me) a lot of hope that (esports) is going to be about forever,” Raynr mentioned. “It will develop with its audience due to the fact it is not like when I’m 50 I’m not going to care about games, or that my children now getting ten or 20, at that point, are not going to care about games. We’re just about going to be the bridge, the persons that are becoming utilized to seeing (esports) now.”

In spite of the future of esports and the achievement he’s located on the platform, Raynr mentioned he would trade some of his gaming skills to be an elite soccer player.

“There’s nothing at all like playing soccer at a higher level,” Raynr mentioned. “It’s far better than any Apex game or winning something like that digitally for me. Scoring a target (in the) 90th minute, bench rushes the field, parents and fans in the crowd – that is the epitome of a feeling in my book.”

Simply because for Raynr, content material creation is far more about who he is than what he does.

“I can get by with getting an typical Apex player, (due to the fact) I can nevertheless make content material.”

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