By: Zachary Lange
When videographer Jordan “Shiplee” Ousley joined eUnited, he joined a small but dedicated crew that was beginning to find its way.
His first official assignment? Covering the SMITE World Championships in January of 2018 – a championship ride that saw eUnited SMITE write its name in the history books.
Now two years and dozens of events later, the 26-year-old content producer has continued to create longform documentaries and work with some of the most winningest players in eUnited history – on both a professional and personal level.
“It’s definitely a grind, for sure,” Ousley said. “(But) I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Working through his bachelor’s degree in film at Missouri State University, Ousley began finding his way behind the lens with basic freelance work. Shooting a wedding one weekend, a corporate advertisement the next and even working part-time jobs post-graduation in 2015 just to stay afloat.
But one creative outlet always stuck out – esports.
Ousley wasn’t sure how he would find an opening into a field that was just beginning to bud with talent and ability to tell a narrative in a visual medium, but his love for Counter Strike and competitive gaming was too much to ignore, and he wanted to get involved.
A mutual friend introduced Ousley to content creator and – perhaps ironically – now eUnited streamer Jordan “LEGIQN” Payton, with the two filming comedy skits during the early days of YouTube that were posted onto LEGIQN’s channel. Trips to a pair of UGC events in St. Louis for a Halo 5 tournament and Atlantic City, N.J. for a Gears of War tournament in 2017 gave Ousley the connections and portfolio to make the next leap up to a professional organization.
eUnited’s size at the time of his arrival was much smaller in numbers to where it has grown to today. But it served as an appeal to Ousley. When he found out about the culture of a small team that was beginning to take shape, it allowed the developing videographer to have a voice.
“I felt like every idea that I had, every contribution that I was making – I could see it directly result in the videos that we were making,” Ousley said.
Now with roughly 15-plus hours of documentaries, fun skits and vlogs appearing on the eUnited YouTube channel, Ousley has crafted his voice to being one that is veteran, seasoned and polished. Triumph – A Championship Story has nearly 40,000 views, 2,500 upvotes and is Ousley’s favorite work to date.
Working with the Call of Duty team through a multitude of ups and downs, roster changes and near first-place finishes all culminated with eUnited Call of Duty winning the Call of Duty World Championship. Triumph, a 48-minute long documentary, tells the story from formation to glory.
“For nearly two years, I saw them more than I probably saw my own family,” Ousley said.
That isn’t an exaggeration. Last year alone, Ousley was at approximately 20 unique events and the Call of Duty Pro League, which would run for multiple weeks at a time inside the MLG Studios in Columbus, Ohio.
But the job was made easier with Ousley’s ability to connect with the players that was he was working to tell the story of. By being there for each individual player as a friend when the cameras were off after a tough loss, the magic made when the record light shined through Triumph’s victory is what made the feeling of being recognized by countless members of the community feel even more special.
“Jordan has a personality where he puts players before himself,” said eUnited General Manager Matthew “Burns” Potthoff. “(He’s) always making sure he's doing the little things to help them out and be courteous of their space before big matches. He creates a fun environment, and making people laugh is always a great quality to have since tournament weekends can be tense and stressful.”
Early on, his friend and now fellow member of the eUnited content team LEGIQN saw the potential that has now been worked on with countless repetition across the variety of videos.
“When it comes to producing and shooting quality pieces that would attract both new and older viewers, Jordan always has a knack for understanding the culture in the scene and putting it to work,” the streamer said. “He loves a reaction and to evoke emotion through his work.”
The experiences afforded to the creative Ousley have led to him being able to manage his own content at Maryville University – a leader in collegiate esports located near St. Louis. As the director of esports media, Ousley crafts narratives that have emulated his success during his time at eUnited.
Creative Director John "Brute" DeHart was the one to initially hire a once inexperienced Ousley to join the team here at eUnited. DeHart credits his coworkers’ positive mindset to grow his abilities as a videographer.
“I’m big on empowering your team and believing in them to execute,” DeHart said. “Jordan from very early on was able to take minimal direction and really take ownership of his work.”
Entering his third full year as a member of the video content team, Ousley views himself as lucky, but also acknowledged that his new role at Maryville is unchartered waters. It’s a sacrifice. Like any new content creation job in this industry, which deals with groups mostly teenagers, Ousley is having to break players out their shells to create meaningful content.
It’s also allowed him to be able to be the head of his own media department. Soon, he’ll be directing the startup videographer that he once was. The cycle from cutting your teeth to being at the top of something, fulfilled.
Each new project that Ousley tackles, however, is with the same exuberance as the first. Only difference now? The basics are down, and the boundaries can still be extended.
“That’s what esports is honestly all about,” Ousley said. “It’s about pushing your limits.”