BK-201: "I am very happy and grateful"

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In our “Milan Madness” series, we pick the brains of players and behind-the-scenes staff in the lead-up to the Season 9 Finals. Next in the series, we have the global ESL Community Manager, Jan “BK-201” Moerland.

Jan “BK-201” Moerland is a familiar and often comforting face to many in the Rainbow Six esports community. Even if you may not know him, it is likely that you have seen him on your broadcast at LAN events, with him standing behind players as they duke it out against each other.

BK-201, or simply BK, is the ESL Community Manager for Rainbow Six: Siege, and has been involved with the game since its inception. Like everyone in the scene, he started off as a simple fan of the game, and soon was swept up in refereeing and other management behind-the-scenes.

BK-201 (encircled) at the Six Invitational 2018

His impact is felt at almost every single LAN event -- save for those in the APAC region -- and for good reason. BK has worked countless hours to get to his current position, sacrificing more than many would realise. When beGenius were disqualified from Season 6 of the Pro League after their player Stéphane "Shaiiko" Lebleu was found to be using macros, he even received death threats in one of the most trying times for him as part of this community.

However, he held firm and emerged from it a stronger man and has not let that incident -- or others like it -- discolour his perception of the community. The love for the game and everyone involved in it is still very much there, and shows absolutely no signs of diminishing.

SiegeGG contacted BK to gather his thoughts on his journey with ESL and Rainbow Six until now:

What has been the highlight of your time in the R6 community?

That’s a really difficult question for me. The absolute long term highlight of my entire time would be me being part of this community and my influence on it. There is nothing better than me being part of all that and directly work on it as a Community Manager.

When I started playing the Alpha back in the day, I could never imagine working on events like the Pro League Finals or the Six Invitational. It’s been an incredible journey for me and I hope this adventure never ends.

You worked as a volunteer for a long time. How did it feel to make the switch to full-time?

Switching from a volunteer position to a full-time position was a huge step for me and probably the biggest I’ve taken so far. I was happy that my work got noticed and appreciated. Without the help of the players and the community, I would not be where I am now. I had to sacrifice a lot of things for that, back then I had a part-time job and worked during the weekends in a kitchen to earn additional money besides my full-time job as a System Administrator.

I spend every second of my free time playing Rainbow Six and working on competitions on ESL Play as well as the Pro League itself. I had no free time and lost the contacts to all my friend. I was always tired in the day -- long playdays and tournaments stole my sleep on a daily basis while I was available 24/7. With the jump to a full-time position, I could gain some of my free time back and have more flexibility.

I am very happy and grateful for this position, after all this is a dream job for me and I hope I can stick to Rainbow Six and its esports community throughout the years to come.

What are the challenges that come with being an ESL admin for Siege?

As an ESL admin you face new challenges on a daily basis; there is no routine and you need to be prepared for everything. No matter how many years of experience you have or how many events you have worked on, there is always something new to learn.

Staying calm in tricky situations and having a strong personality with good communication skills is a huge bonus. Of course, as an admin you need to know the game inside out, and you need to educate yourself further and be aware of all in-game mechanics and bugs. It’s similar to being a Pro League player -- practice and a lot of game knowledge which comes in handy for me as I improve my skill as an observer at the same time.

Even after all these years, I still get nervous and excited like a child waiting for his Christmas presents at the start of each event.  

What is your favourite thing about being an ESL admin for Siege?

The author, Shikhar "InfianEwok" Gupta with BK-201 at the US Nationals 2018 Finals

My favourite thing about being an admin are the events and following the game and its growth on every single step. It’s always fascinating and a huge pleasure for me to meet the players, the Ubisoft staff and fans. I enjoy it a lot when everybody comes together from different countries and cultures just to enjoy a game together.

It feels amazing to stay on the same stage as the players and watch them live, hear them how they communicate and see their gameplay. It’s great fuel for my motivation and keeps me busy aiming for more.

How do you work with the other ESL teams across the globe?

The most difficult part about working on a global level are the different time zones. A meeting can easily mess up my sleep schedule and make it hard to maintain my own private life at my normal timezone. It’s pretty nice to work with all the regions together -- we have weekly (if not daily) meetings and work very close together.

Communication is very important and getting things aligned and shared across all regions isn’t as easy as it sounds because of different languages. Sometimes it can be a bit more of a love-hate relationship like many things in your professional life.

What has been your favourite event so far?

For me, it was the first Pro League Finals back in Year 1 Season 1, taking place in the ESL Studio in Cologne. I met the Pro League teams whom I only knew from Twitter and Discord finally in person. It was such a great experience for me to be there, enjoying the matches and having a chat with all of them.

Right after that, I would put the first Six Invitational as second, and the Pro League finals in Rio de Janeiro in third place.

Who is your favourite ESL staff member?

Phew… That's hard to say, I don’t really have a certain favourite member, but there are many people who have a lot of positive influence on me like the admin staff from ESL Play, or Ghassan “MiloshTheMedic” Finge who took me to the gym right after the Paris Major.

I remember the first few days (at the gym) very well, he was the one pushing me and screaming at me. Ever since then, I have not stopped and he helped me a lot in coming out of my comfort zone.

Any fun behind-the-scenes stories for us?

Back in Year 2 at the Season 2 Finals which took place in Cologne during the Gamescom, Astro complained about technical issues with his in-game sound -- it was reversed.  It caused a technical break and after a few seconds it turned out that he had swapped his in ear-ears and swapping them fixed it. It made smile for the entire match after, and it was my highlight of the event.

Another great time was in the Six Invitational 2019 Showmatch. James “ThyJebusBeDone” Foster (the APAC Community Manager) and I spontaneously had the idea to make it more entertaining. We messed around with the players’ settings and configs, including keybinds, mouse sensitivity, and even the audio settings. After just a few seconds of playing, the players noticed it and no one stopped laughing for the entire match. I remember  Matthew "Acez" McHenry from Fnatic even calling a rehost because he thought his keyboard was broken. Tears of joy!

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The Milan finals are taking place on the 18th and 19th of May, where BK-201 will be presiding over all activities and keeping the players honest. To keep up to date on Milan coverage before, during, and after the event, be sure to check back here at SiegeGG.