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Arucas Gaming Fest - ESL Faceit Group's Rodrigo García Interview

The growing markets director at ESL FaceIt Group was in Gran Canaria to talk about the current situation and challenges of esports. In this video we discuss the upcoming Esports World Cup, the switch to Counter-Strike 2, the potential of annual vs ongoing releases, the volatility of the prize pools, or how to cater to female audience and players.

Audio transcription

"Okay, so we are at the Arucas Gaming Fest in the beautiful Canary Islands and we just attended a very interesting talk about esports and about ESL and FaceIt group and you know, there's been this buzz around esports being a bubble that is about to be popped So, first of all, thank you so much for joining us, Rodrigo What do you think about this big bubble being popped?
Is it going to happen?
Do fans have to worry?
And partners, of course I mean, the short answer would be no, I don't think the fans or partners need to be worried about That doesn't mean that we're going to have some headwinds as an industry because as part of the talk that I was saying, this bubble happens If you take a look across other industries, I'm not talking about gaming or esports I'm talking about, you know, any massive innovation or ride-hailing industries that didn't exist before They all went through this phase of a lot of rush in the beginning Then something burst in the middle Then it was a little bit less And then the market is in this phase of being consolidating, right?
And you saw that happening with Uber, for example or any other technology that was not with us before Same thing with esports The esports has grown massively thanks to the pandemic, of course And now that things are going back to normal, then the market is reshaping and reshuffling And then all the hype that you saw through the pandemic years is coming to a more stable environment or stable trends So in that way, I don't think esports are going to go anywhere soon In fact, they're still going to grow The thing is that there are a couple of challenges that we need to, as an industry overcome and think about it to try to make it sustainable But it's part of our day-to-day entertainment It's the biggest segment of entertainment in terms of growth So I think there's magic there It's just a matter of how do we reshape it and go through these challenges And you also mentioned that 2024 is going to be very important I think you said emblematic or legendary for esports And you mentioned two factors to pay into that Which is both the Olympics happening in Paris And also, of course, the World Cup, the esports World Cup So what can you tell us about these two factors transforming or sort of uplifting esports in 2024?
Well, I think 2024, as you said, is going to be very interesting for the esports industry Especially on the esports World Cup, not as much as the Olympics But the reason why I put the two together is that It's very interesting how those two are trying to dance with one another And try to come or be included or come in some sort of combination Talking specifically on the esports World Cup I think we're very, very excited because it's never been done before in such a scale So it's going to be massive I talked about eight weeks of gaming It's going to be across between 12 to 16 different titles We're still pinning down the details But it's going to be the first massive esports World Cup Where we are going to bring the best teams to play And it's basically a massive experiment to see how it works And if it's actually an ecosystem that could repeat every year Because in contrast to the Olympics, they don't happen every year, right?
It's kind of like the same with the FIFA World Cup, right?
It's every four years Esports World Cup is meant to happen every year So it's going to be very interesting how we pull that off So it's a lot of genius people trying to make that work There's a lot of details being worked out at the moment But it's all in the open baking to actually become a reality It doesn't happen every year and it's not going to be country-based It's going to be team-based all around the world But how do you think the Olympics sort of help or support the spirit?
I guess it's good news that the Olympics are going to happen next year Also for you guys?
I think it's very interesting because the Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games Have tried to come up with some sort of elements of electronic sports in such a way Not the esports that we talk about within the industry, the true hardcore But bringing virtual reality, augmented reality to the athletes and seeing how that works So even they are testing into this uncharted territory and how that could look I think one of the major differences is, as you rightfully pointed out The Olympic Games are all based in countries, in nationalisms In a sense, the pride of a nation winning or scoring more medals Whereas the Esports World Cup is not going to be built around that It's going to be built about the best Esports World Cup competing against each other So the national, let's say, characteristic is actually secondary Because the teams can be formed by people from different nationalities So you can have two Brazilians, one Spanish and then two Japanese In a roster that they compete In that sense it's going to be very interesting how the Olympic Games come closer to Esports And then also how Esports are testing this model of world championships But without the national element to it I mean, it is, it is, but not as the primary one And they are going to happen in Riyadh, if I'm correct And you mentioned several elements to sort of understand the scale of the event next year But I think you didn't mention the prize pool And an interesting comparison you draw during your talk was versus Wimbledon, if I'm correct So what can you tell us about the prize pool?
And what can you tell us about the volatility of the prize pool In the different major and big events that have been happening through the past few years?
I think talking about the volatility of prize pools You need to differentiate depending on which title you're seeing The example that I gave was the International of 2021, so the Dota 2 World Tournament It had a prize pool of 40 million USD Which came close to the 50 million of Wimbledon But that didn't repeat last year and the year before, right?
I think that's pretty much specific to how the prize pool works within the Dota 2 ecosystem You can ask the people from the scene There are mixed components where they're saying Racing so much, the esports prize pool is not sustainable And you're going to go down It went down, but then again you also say Okay, but then what's the actual, let's say, interesting factor for teams to compete, right?
Because on the Dota 2 scene A lot of the teams were not really into the national ecosystem They wanted to go regional or global Because that was the path to get to the international, for example If you take, for example, Counter-Strike And the ecosystems that we do through Intel Extreme Masters The prize pools have been controlled Have been the same, not the same It's been increased over the years But with not such a wide volatility So I think that volatility depends precisely on which game title you're talking about And it's something to be thoughtful of how that would impact the club dynamics The player interests and also the fan base You're going around 50 to 70, I think you mentioned?
For the World Cup?
It's still TBD It's still TBD Last year, which was not called that, it was called Gamers 8 It was around 40 to 50 million prize pools So the goal is to go bigger than that And you mentioned the titles themselves And there are these three tiers you talked about And on the top of the line, you always have free-to-play games You also mentioned Counter-Strike So two things I wanted to ask you about Bottom line, we saw EA Sports Football Club 2024 That's a yearly release, an annual release by EA Do you think for them to go free-to-play Or in a similar model that Konami is trying out with eFootball Could make them compete in the second tier or top tier?
And then I'm going to ask you about Counter-Strike 2 Yeah, well how I ranked them in those tiers Was related to the scale of the audience And how it is in relationship to the eSports Because, for example, Fortnite was in the second tier And it's not that the tiers are not important It's a massive followers from Fortnite But the eSports component is not as strong in Fortnite Than it is in League of Legends, for example, or Counter-Strike So to your question going free-to-play I think EA is going to be Also it's going to happen this year and next year It's going to be very interesting, 2024 Because we're going to see How the decision of FIFA partnering out of Or going outside of a partnership with EA Affects the game, right?
Because on one side you have FIFA, which has a brand Ultra well-known, I think it's one of the Even one of the best well-known brands in the world And then you have EA, which really knows How to make a football video game, right?
So they were a good complement to each other And now they're walking different paths So I'm just eager to see how that turns out It could be very positive to the scene Or it could not be very positive Or even something in between, so yeah So far it didn't have any negative impact On the game sales at all And then I was asking about Counter-Strike 2 Of course we saw scenes of teams competing in CSGO That's been happening, going on for many years But now all of a sudden Nobody can play CSGO anymore Everyone has to at least try out CS2 And you guys have tried it out But it's not there yet Yeah, I mean CSGO has been in the scene for I don't know how many years now And it was very consolidated The enthusiasm towards the game was very good All the dynamics worked It was, you know, like a mature wine If you kind of compare it, right?
It worked, everybody knows It was very good Now with CS2 It was a tension between the community Wanting the game to be launched right now We were all eager to play it But at the same time the developer taking time To actually make it happen And then what we found out right now Was that the game was released But then at the same time, paradoxically The community was not pleased Because there were things that were not working properly Right?
So you can't have it both You can have it really quickly And it really, really works So as you said We've run the first massive tournament in Australia Using Counter-Strike 2 Technically speaking There were some hurdles that we needed to overcome The game itself is not in the prime yet So it's just going to take a little bit more time To polish the rough edges And then get it to a stage where it is We did saw a huge spike of players Wanting to try something new But just because it was, you know, something new We'll see how that trend stabilizes over time But yeah, we're just expecting the game to be As polished as Global Offensive Which is long gone Of course And last one You just mentioned hurdles Two challenges that you talked about One was the business model for esports And how it's not consolidated as of yet It's constantly changing and evolving And it's not very well specified And the other thing that I asked you about During this panel Was about women Women in esports And how we saw football taking so many years And on esports we don't have the physical differences So how you guys are trying To be more equal and more inclusive for women Both the audiences, the athletes, and everyone Correct One of the biggest differences, as you said Is that by now it's proved that the traditional Business models of sports don't work to esports And that, as I was alluding to before It revolves a lot on what are the revenue streams That sports have Versus what are the revenue streams That you can find in esports And talking specifically on what I said in the panel Was the broadcasting platforms and the media rights In sports we are very used to pay for media rights We pay for that content Whereas in the esports scene You don't pay for anything You just go to Twitch, click a link And you may see an ad, 30 minutes But then that's it That money goes to Twitch Not to the club Or not to the one owning the rights In some time So that's one of the big challenges That right now we say Okay, that's not working And the industry as a whole needs to think And create a new model that is actually Better working, right?
And what I was saying before That's not something that is rare Anytime you try to innovate in something You need to take a look around See what works Or what is relatable You can apply it And then you try to learn And adapt into new things So I think that's where we are right now There's still a lot of questions to be answered I think we are very close to getting A sense on how that will be But again, it involves All the different ecosystem stakeholders That we saw So that's for your first question And the second one In terms of women It's true Esports don't rely as much As physical prowess Muscular and skeletal That we're talking about And what we've tried And see is Because you get a very interesting thing You get a lot of Females playing the game Or women playing the game Or playing any game in particular But that doesn't necessarily translate Into the esports scene, right?
And one of the things that we were wondering Is it maybe because of lack of support Or is it maybe because they don't have Someone that they can relate to And they want to be like that So at least what we're trying to do in ESL Is we created this initiative That I spoke about That we call it GG4 So what we're trying to do With the ESL Impact Is to create an ecosystem That sees and is built And protects the female interests Or the women interests in those teams We have tried a lot of different things Like having mixed teams Or just one-to-one Sorry, not one-to-one But all women, for example That has worked better right now I don't think the other wouldn't work It's just that we're Again, testing and evolving I think ESL Impact is a good reference On how we are trying to create This ecosystem that is global So right now we run four across the world And the girls themselves like it a lot So we're just trying to see How we can push them further Into the spotlight Because it's still not their year There's a lot of work to be done But I think we need to start from somewhere And then the audience will grow as well And they all will enjoy better So I think you have to run for a plane now So thank you so much for your time, Rodrigo See you next time See you"

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