Meet Valhallan Program Specialist Will Schendel

A Q&A with the esports fanatic giving Valhallan the competitive edge.

Lifelong gamer, onetime LAN center owner, and current Valhallan Esports Operational and Program Guru. After nearly a decade in the esports industry, no one is better equipped to design a program introducing young players to the world of esports than Will.

There are many different career paths in the esports world—and Will has gone down several of them. Find out what makes him tick and why he's excited about Valhallan.  

Q: How did you get into gaming?  

My first video game was the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990. My favorite game at the time was Mario Brothers Duck Hunt. But that's not really got me hooked—that was Halo. This was when I was playing back in college, so before Xbox live. I started playing tournaments in the dorm on XB Connect. I got pretty good, and then I got serious about it. In 2003, I started traveling for Halo tournaments.

Q: When did esports become part of your career?

I think it's every kid's dream to play video games and get paid for it.  

I worked in the restaurant industry for a while. But in 2013, I opened a LAN center and card shop in the Houston area. I hosted video game and Pokemon card tournaments during the week. I loved the community I built, but it's tough to run a business by yourself. So, I went to work for GameStop opening new stores, and eventually found my way to Valhallan.

Q: What do you do for Valhallan?

As the programs and operations manager, I work on building the curriculum for our players—The Legendary Path. Once we get our arenas up and running, I'll be organizing Valhallan tournaments, programs, activities and camps—all sorts of exciting programs to keep players growing and engaging (and coming back week-after-week).  

I've got a pretty strong operations background. So as franchisees start building their businesses, I'll be here to help with hiring practices, management experience, best practices—just being there for support. I know running a business is hard. The benefit of franchising is that you're not alone. You've got me along with 30-plus other people in the Valhallan corporate office to have your back.

Q: Why is Valhallan different?

We're teaching life skills here. Things like time management, communication, teamwork. We're also building a community—something a lot of young gamers don't get. Valhallan is a place for like-minded individuals. A lot of people (especially parents) just see gamers as loners locked in a room. And Valhallan is a space for young players to experience that team dynamic, that sense of community they'd get in traditional youth sports that's so important for everyone to have no matter how old they are.  

Q: Do you still play Halo?

Oh yeah - I'm always going to be a fan of Halo. I still play with one of my friends from college too.

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