Up until recently, no one would have thought that esports would become as big as it is today. There are esports events and tournaments worldwide, and there are even professional players and teams. As a result, the gaming community grew, and there are now several platforms where players and enthusiasts can interact and bond over their shared interests. Jimmy Baratta has helped create a new way to support collegiate esports athletes in this new frontier through his nonprofit league, the NACL.
Jimmy Baratta was trained as a civil litigation attorney. After six successful years working in a prestigious law firm in California, Jimmy decided it was time for him to pursue his love for gaming. “I am incredibly passionate about esports,” he shares, “I have been a gamer my whole life.” After making that decision, Jimmy has successfully shifted careers from law to esports business development.
Apart from founding ICEBRKRSCLAN, a network of content creators and competitive players founded by Baratta in 2017, and consulting for Granderson des Rochers, a high profile entertainment law firm in Beverly Hills, in 2019 Jimmy Baratta established the North American Collegiate League (NACL) with FaZe Clan seed investor David Chen. Jimmy Baratta and David Chen noticed that scholarships are usually only given to traditional sports athletes or academic achievers, and decided to fill a void, so that competitive esports players also can attain higher education. The NACL, they state, is a non-profit organization that aims to support collegiate competitive esports players through scholarships.
Baratta’s NACL now has over 220 colleges and universities affiliated, that compete and participate in NACL events. The NACL maintains broadcast licenses in some of the biggest games in gaming: from Fortnite to CS:GO, Madden, and more. The NACL has hosted tournaments every month since its launch and distributed over $100,000 in funding. The NACL also streams events and tournaments through their partnership with Chinese service Huomao and iSunTV across 8 Asian territories, Latin America, and the U.S. This large fan base gains the NACL nearly 1.5M in viewership, establishing itself as the predominant name in collegiate gaming.
A brief history – the NACL hosted their first event in November of 2019 at the ISM Raceway during NASCAR’s 2020 Championship weekend. NACL ambassador and NASCAR driver Anthony Alfredo led the campaign, where students competed against each other and against NASCAR drivers to claim the esports prize. The event was such a success, it was repeated on March 15, 2020 at Phoenix Raceway, where the NACL showcased NASCAR Heat 4 to the public in a tournament that was crowned with the winner of the LS Tractor 200. Since then, the NACL has shifted its model to support online tournaments, both increasing viewership, participation and charitable reach.
Apart from his philanthropic endeavors and founding of the NACL, Jimmy Baratta has continued to build a successful career in the esports business. He is currently a consultant for XSET, and fondly calls Clinton Sparks a mentor and friend. Jimmy also sits on the board for The Esportz Network. Jimmy also works with software developer Wizard Labs as head of user acquisition, and is the new VP of Special Events for XR Sports. Besides his corporate roles, he also accepted a position at the University of California Irvine as a professor of esports.
Following his passion has made such a positive impact on Jimmy Baratta’s life. Despite his success, he never forgets his commitment to the community – most evident in the NACL. He wants to encourage young people to see gaming and esports as a positive influence in their lives, now more than ever. To help with that, he has a mentoring program through the ICE clan, and also gives back by providing college scholarships through NACL to individuals who want to use their skills in esports to get a college education.
In pursuing a career in esports, Jimmy Baratta followed an unconventional route. But his decisions have paid off, and he hopes to inspire anyone else wanting to switch jobs or pursue their passion.
For more information on Jimmy Baratta, you may check his LinkedIn profile.
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