Nick Blakey Talks AFL Gamers Network and Stream King Tournament

June 2, 2020

With the AFL season on hold and no way to engage with fans through their normal ways, the AFL set up a brand new game streaming initiative for players to show off their skills to fans over the internet. Dubbed the AFL Gamers Network, a number of the game’s best and brightest stars have streamed as they’ve played games from Fortnite to FIFA. The initiative held it’s first massive event just over a week ago, teaming up with Epic Games to host a charity Fortnite tournament, pitting 41 duos made up for players and content creators in a series of three matches, with the top five duos having money donated to their charities of choice.

We had the opportunity to speak to Sydney Swans Rising Star Nominee Nick Blakey about the tournament and how he manages to fit gaming into the busy schedule of an AFL player:

Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to chat to me. Just to kind of start with could you just give me a quick rundown on your history with games and what you tend to play?

Nick: So basically, a whole bunch of different games really. All the boys at the club go home from training and play. I’ve been playing a bit of 2K lately, but a lot of the boys play a fair bit of Fortnite, as well. So those are probably the two, and Call of Duty as well obviously, but I’m not big on Call of Duty.

Andrew: That’s something I can get behind as well. Personally, I’m not too big on shooters, and it really just comes down to liking what you like. There’s no doubt that playing in the AFL this is pretty time consuming. How do you generally find the time to play a game, or just kind of anything really leisure related around training, match day and other commitments?

Nick: So basically, we probably train from 8 till 4 o’clock most days. Then we sort of just go home and everyone does their own thing, and whether or not they jump on PlayStation and play games or whatever that is really. We have a fair bit of downtime, so the boys sort of do different stuff, but there’s definitely a few boys that jump on and play Fortnite together or play NBA together. So, it’s always fun.

Andrew: Awesome. That sounds great, and I personally love games as a way to kind of catch up with some friends and do the same sort of stuff. With the season shutdown that’s kind of now starting to come to an end, did you find yourself with kind of more time to do things that you would not have as much time to do before, or was it kind of much of the same?

Nick: The first few weeks when you didn’t have a routine of what I was doing so I’d wake up and I knew I had to train, but I didn’t have a certain time when I had to do it, so I’d just sort of get up and train whenever. It was just sort of a lot easier when you’ve got a real routine. You know wake up at 9 train at 9:30, so I think just do whatever that is and then you’ve got the whole day to do whatever you want really. So obviously training and everything is definitely taking priority, but then when you got hours of doing nothing, especially when we had no football and no one was allowed to be at the club. Then I suppose that was a good time to do different things, whether that was playing games, or you know living near the beach in Sydney a lot of the boys go down to the beach. It’s sort of one or the other.

Andrew: That’s great to hear. With the AFL Gamers Network and that initiative kind of spinning up over the last couple of months, how were you recruited for the initiative?

Nick: I just got a call. I was playing some NBA and posting stories on my Instagram basically of me playing NBA with a few boys from here, and then I think the AFL was pretty keen to get a few players on board and when we weren’t doing anything during that shutdown period I suppose it was something easy to do when we were playing anyway. So if we could you know stream it and then if the fans want to watch, they watch and I suppose it gives them another look into how we’re not just football players. I suppose we do what every other teenager’s doing as well. That really gives a different kind of perspective to the fan.

Andrew: Talking from experience, streaming is something that’s really kind of kicked off in the last five or ten years, so there’s definitely going to be a bunch of people who you can get through to that you might not have been able to before. Is streaming something you see yourself continuing with the season coming back up?

Nick: I’m not too sure, to be honest. I don’t play as much as some of the other boys do, but we have like a schedule of when the AFL Gamers Network need people to stream. So I think it’s all based around that and when they need players to stream. As long as it doesn’t interrupt training or anything like that then I think all of the boys, not just myself, are pretty keen to help out wherever we can.

Andrew: That’s awesome to hear, because it’s something that I’d love to see more of personally speaking after seeing the kind of hijinks Mitch Robinson has gotten up to over the last few months. I think it’ll be interesting to see where what happens from here, that’s for sure.

Moving on to the Stream King tournament from last week, what was it like taking part in that?

Nick: That was really fun. I suppose we sort of knew it was coming up, but we didn’t really know what it would be like. We played a few practice games in the warm up and they were all different sort of game modes, like no building and all that sort of stuff. So to actually play in the tournament and it just being normal Fortnite Battle Royale. We actually went pretty well, me and Dylan my partner.

Andrew: I was going to say, I did see that you placed in seventh. Personally speaking, I think top 10 in just anything is pretty great. You know, as long as we’re talking about more than 10 people participating.

Nick: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: Speaking of Dylan, he’s pretty well versed in Fortnite, did he give you many tips or handy hints leading into the tournament?

Nick: We played a bit together before for a couple of hours, I guess. But, I told him straight up that I wasn’t that good at Fortnite and that if we’re gonna do any good then it would be him carrying me the whole time. So, he did that pretty well. He’s a gun at the game and I’m not that good, I was just following whatever he said. He was building and I just had all the mats and I was just dropping whatever he needed. I think I was just running around like a headless chook, just following him.

Andrew: To be perfectly honest, that sounds like me most of the time I play battle royale games. My friends carrying me to any wins that we have. In hindsight, is there anything in particular that happened during the tournament that you would change? Like, are there any particular moments that you just kind of look and go, ‘Why did I do that?’?

Nick: Yeah, I had grenades at one point and I was throwing them and I accidentally threw one in the back of Dylan’s head and it bounced back and blew up our base. And then I was trying to speed build and accidentally threw down a crash pad, which sent us into the air and as we’re in the air we got shot and died. It was in the early going so we got no points in that first round. We went pretty well in the second game, so if it wasn’t for that we probably would’ve finished a bit higher.

Andrew: I mean, hey, at least you’ve got some interesting stories coming out on this side of it.

Nick: I couldn’t believe it.

Andrew: I’ve just one more question before we finish up. Do you have a specific teammate that currently doesn’t stream, or maybe doesn’t even play games, but you would love to see them get in on the streaming action?

Nick: Yeah, I would have said Tom Papley because he’s pretty funny and he’s a character, and he’s obviously a superstar player as well. So I think the fans would like to see him play, but I think he’s actually gonna join the AFL Gamers Network pretty soon. He’s probably the one I’d say at the moment, whether or not he joins I’m not sure, but I think he is gonna be joining.

Andrew: Awesome, you know, streaming can be pretty bland unless the person jumping in is interesting and fun. With the way he plays, he’s definitely got some energy on field, so I could see that translating well.

Nick: He’s the same off-field as well, so he’d be fun to watch.

Andrew: In that case Nick, I want to thank you for your time and I hope you have a great start to the AFL season when it starts back up again in a couple of weeks.


You can check out all the action from the AFL Gamers Network over at their official Youtube Channel and stay up to date with their scheduling over at the Twitter page.