250 free jerseys?! The creators of Esports Closet, Jake Lucky and AlexBe sit down for their first-ever interview about their thriving side-project.
For many gamers receiving free hardware or apparel would be a blessing, but for Jake Lucky and AlexBe, its a perk of their growing passion project, Esports Closet. On their social media channels, the duo rate and review esports jerseys from both top flight esports organisations to collegiate teams.
“At the time we started Esports Closet we had around 60 to 100 jerseys,” said Jake Lucky. And now? “It’s a little bit hectic lately, but I would say we’re probably at around 250 plus.”
That’s 250+ jerseys, not including the pairs other apparel. Yes, that’s a hell of a lot.
The couple have so much in fact, that they’ve set aside space in their new home to create the ultimate Esports Closet backdrop for their YouTube videos.
How Esports Closet started
Jake Lucky is no stranger to the esports sphere, having made a name for himself as the host and reporter for Esports Talk. As part of his work he often received free merchandise, which sparked the interest of his partner ALexBe.
“I borrowed one of his Faze hoodies once, and a guy recognised it at the grocery store and did the Faze Up sign at me,” said AlexB. “At first I wasn’t sure if it was some kind of gang sign (laughs), but it piqued my interest.”
With the pair sharing a love for esports apparel, in particular jerseys, they decided to set up their own project to share what they’d been sent. It wasn’t long before esports orgs were sending them packages unrequested in the hope of featuring on their social networks.
“It’s a bit of a passion slash side hobby for now,” said Jake Lucky. “We hope to build Esports Closet up into something in the future. But, regardless of whether or not it reaches giving us a monetary benefit, we just really enjoy doing it.”
Social media influencer Jake Lucky, who left Esports Talk at the end of 2021, is a very prominent figure in the esports and gaming space. With just short of 200,000 followers on Twitter, he has been for many the source of breaking news across multiple esports titles. This has formed a great base for Esports Closet to succeed, along with the engaging dynamic between AlexBe and Jake Lucky.
“I think we provide a different outlook because we’ve got both the pro and the casual esports fan perspective, so there’s a learning opportunity for a viewer. We also do the entire spectrum of merch from pro to collegiate,” said AlexBe. “Our chemistry works together because we’re both goofy people and I’d like to think that we’re entertaining,”
“Yeah, I think we bring a bit of personality to a niche,” Jake Lucky added. “It’s certainly a smaller category out there that’s growing. You’ve got a couple behind the scenes, two very different personalities who mesh well in person and on camera. We bring a bit of fun to the space which we’ve seen can be very very serious and drama filled as I’m very well aware.”
Which jerseys stand out amongst the crowd?
At the end of last year, the owners of Esports.gg offered all the staff the opportunity to buy any piece of esports merch they wanted as a Christmas reward. I was curious if given the same opportunity, what jersey would the Esports Closet duo buy?
“That’s so hard,” was the immediate response from the Esports Closet duo.
“Thinking about it I would buy a jersey we actually already have in the closet, and that’s the Paper Rex jersey,” said AlexBe. “We got it a while ago and it’s kind of wild, it has neon pink with a kind of animal print, and it just really stands out in my mind.”
“They’re a VALORANT team who has one of the best jerseys we’ve ever had,” added Jake Lucky.
Paper Rex are a Singaporean esports organization founded by Nikhil “nikH” Hathiramani and legendary CS 1.6 player Harley “dsn” Örwall. Dsn is best known for being the captain of Fnatic during a glorious period from 2007 to 2009 where the team were incredibly dominant.
In terms of his own thoughts Jake Lucky took his time, and for good reason. Pushing for an answer I suggest Team Liquid as a potential candidate.
“If we’re going for sheer quality and a lot of collaborations then yes, I think Team Liquid is great. It’s hard for me to narrow it down to one team, but if I had to, I’ll go with a curveball and say Vision Strikers for one of my favourites out there,” said Jake Lucky.
For those unaware, Vision Strikers are a South-Korean VALORANT team who represented their region at the VCT Champions 2021. They finished top 12.
“We also have a big fondness for American teams like 100 Thieves who also have great stuff,” Jake added. “We did a special with JBL audio (a sponsor of 100 Thieves), they sent us a limited edition 100 Thieves jersey and that is also up there for us. Whenever we can get those limited edition merch it’s always that much cooler.”
The challenges of Esports Closet
Receiving a free piece of merch is very different to receiving a few dozen, especially when they are from rivals.
“That’s the thing you run into, you do these unboxings and you rate these jerseys online and all of a suddenly you’re getting DMs from teams who are saying ‘I see you rated us as an OK jersey’, and I’m like… sorry,” said Jake Lucky, who clearly finds the process tricky at times to navigate.
Another challenge of the business is reaching out to teams outside of North America. Many of the merch that is sent to EsportsCloset is the result of a Twitter DM exchange, but sometimes the line of communication goes cold.
“There are probably about 50 teams who said they would love to send us stuff but then you never hear back from them again,” said Jake Lucky. “Then it’s a question of ‘when do we reach out to you again and ask‘ without being annoying about it.”
“There are also a lot of teams who are really good at it and they’ll repeatedly send us stuff whenever they come up with new lines,” added AlexBe. “It’s really nice to work with those kind of people because they’re on top of it and want us to promote their merch.”
The future looks bright for Esports Closet, and the creators hope to become increasingly involved in the esports merch space.
“I think Esports has a lot of room to grow in terms of teams trying to find profitability. We know that merch, jerseys and apparel will certainly play a role. Down the line if esports and gaming really do blow up, and selling this stuff is a huge part of an organization’s income,” said Jake Lucky.
“For a few organizations now, selling merch is a big source of income but it quickly tails off after the top organizations. We want to have a tiny bit of a role solving that problem by bringing more eyes to those jerseys and clothes. Thus having us involved benefits the organizations who send us stuff, that’s an ultimate goal.
“A lot of teams are trying to work out how to sell a decent amount of jerseys to justify creating them, and it’s only going to grow!” concluded Jake Lucky.