On a certain weeknight, you can still catch Alex Gryn (Class of 2003) at ASW playing in a community hockey team. The rest of the week, his work in the field of e-sports (competitive professional video gaming) takes him all over the country. The alumni team made contact with Alex through ASW Alumni to talk about his career and the future of e-sports.
"We were nerds, my brother and I. Everyone thought it was so boring what we were doing" said Alex, as he recalled the LAN (local area network) gaming party he organised at ASW in 2003, "but in the end, everyone wanted to watch us play."
Alex is the brother of entrepreneur and ASW alumnus Robert Gryn. The two of them attended ASW from pre-school through to graduation, an experience Alex says "gave me a huge start to life because it made me open to new cultures and ways of seeing the world. This is something I use everyday."
In his senior year, Alex and his friends coordinated the LAN party as a CAS project with the support of Mr. Robert Montes, Computer Coordinator. For a 50zl buy in, students at the high school 'lock in' could play video games at school all night and eat pizza, while raising money for charity. "Those days were extremely fun... We learned how to do everything by ourselves, setting up the network etc" said Alex.
After completing the IB diploma program, Alex went on to study a Masters in International Business at Warsaw School of Economics, where his knowledge of other cultures helped him expand his international network. He went on to set up his own import business.
Later, Alex joined his brother at Codewise as head of the gaming division. His e-sports team the Codewise Unicorns achieved victory at multiple tournaments around Poland, including the Go4CS:GO Final in August 2017. What Alex loves most about this work, he tells us, is that he gets to share his passion for gaming with the kids in his team and help develop their skills.
Asked if young people can make a career out of gaming, Alex says "now more than ever - e-sports is a multibillion dollar industry and one of the fastest-growing markets in the world." With tournaments such as Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice offering top prizes up to $500,000 in 2018, it's easy to see how. When Alex presented the topic of e-sports to an investment capital firm recently, one of the attendees told him "you've changed my life - I didn’t know something this big is happening under our noses!"
But Alex also wants gaming to be accepted as a regular sport. One of his concepts is an 'e-sports business cup': "We’re making a tournament for people that work in corporations to compete against each other in video games, as they do in soccer or basketball. It's a great way to promote your company and recruit new talent, with the prize money going to charity" said Alex.