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The Joseph Deen dilemma, the problems of hiring an eight-year old in the esports scene

When Team 33 hired Joseph Deen, an eight-year old Fortnite prodigy, in their ranks it sparked a lot of discussions. Sure there were the usual envious stare where other kids at his age would marvel at the dream of being involved in an organization at a young age. But there were other important topics that were tackled as well. The main arguments centered on the legality of this decision where the community would ask if hiring a kid that can’t qualify for tournaments and is bound to delve into child labor really worth it. Legal experts in general found it difficult to address this issue given the flaws in the esports scene.

Most kids might consider it a dream to play video games all day and be an online personality, but like most childhood dreams, it could backfire as seen with a lot of Disney celebrities.

Though this might be considered a milestone for Deen and Team 33, there are still some questions and issues at hand. Here are some of them.



Football or soccer is an industry where organizations acquire kids to serve as a training block for the next generation. Teams like FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich have their own youth academies that don’t spend on children until they’ve opted to leave school and sign a professional contract. However, the wages they’ve earned is extremely low as the clubs believe that they should earn their spot before receiving a top notched salary. It’s only when they’ve reached 17-years of age when they start negotiating the fees for their professional contract as these players have already proven their worth.

The case of Joseph Deen doesn’t follow this concept as he’s given a huge paycheck to begin with. Team 33 invested $33,000 as signing bonus and an additional $5,000 for his equipment, yet he hasn’t yet proven why he deserves this paycheck. Though talented, Deen is still a raw prospect. According to reports, he is a shy kid that couldn’t answer majority of the interview questions.

Given his shyness this will require some degree of training and nurturing. Will it cost additional expenses? Is he mature enough to learn?

His contract states that he isn’t forced to spend his time with the company as he can opt to focus more on his schoolwork. The freedom given to him may pose some issues about commitment. Deen might realize that working in the esports and gaming scene is a dream but eventually reality might be an overwhelming factor to deal with.

What’s even more alarming is that Team 33 doesn’t have a permanent gaming house as they rent a music studio. This could potentially hamper the growth of Deen both as a streamer and as a professional player.

Indeed Tyler Gallagher, Team 33’s founder, did mention that Deen will only spend his time gaming for the company, but there will be a time when he might force Deen to produce results. Gallagher invested some money on him and he might pressure Deen to provide him financial returns.


Contrary to popular belief, esports isn’t just centered around the competitiveness of gamers as players would also end up as content creators. Some players like League of Legends superstar, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, are seen going live on streaming sites. Gambling companies would even flood their streams to offer markets focusing on his performances in pub matches.

Others like DOTA 2 legend Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, would be involved in online gaming classes, providing their insights and techniques to viewers. Even YouTube personality Richard Tyler “Ninja” Blevins would end up following this trend as he immediately ventured into streaming after announcing his retirement from competitive gaming.

But the common denominator from these individuals is that they started becoming content creators at the apex of their careers. Up-and-coming esports superstars would soon follow the content creator trend, however they would do so in their late teens.

This ultimately begs the question for Joseph Deen and Team 33. Can an eight-year old handle the pressure of being at the spotlight in every situation? Given his role for Team 33, Joseph Deen is now a child celebrity.

In fact, when I analyzed the article by Kotaku.com, it made me realize that Deen is a content creator, a professional player in the making, and a student. How can he balance all of this? Some esports players would take a break from competitive play to focus on their education. I haven’t even mentioned Deen’s role in finding other passions in life that could aid his development. Most child celebrities in Hollywood follow a law where they are given a specific set of working hours, but Deen’s case is different as there are no boundaries in his work. Will he be abused by Team 33? They mentioned that he’s free to do whatever he wants, but that rule could change anytime.

This definitely shows some signs of a child celebrity in the making and this begs the ultimate question, how will Gallagher and Team 33 develop Deen? Let’s hope that Deen wouldn’t end up ruining his career or worse his life.