The NBA announced their 2K league earlier in 2017, in which 17 teams signed up for the inaugural season. What was the driving factor in getting the Bucks involved in the 2018 season?
First of all, it was an easy decision from the top down. Wes Edens has been a longtime supporter of esports, sits on the NBA’s Esports Committee. As an organization, it allows us to reach a young demographic that we have been wanting to engage. We also really wanted to build the best esports community in the midwest as well as take advantage and learn how to monetize the various avenues and platforms outside of the 2K title.
What are the Bucks hoping to get out of the 2K League?
‘We really want to establish esports in the midwest, but more specifically in Milwaukee. There is a passionate community here and we want to try to leverage that into building a strong community of gamer and ultimately try to convert Bucks Gaming fans into Buck fans and vice versa. We are also really hoping to bring home the championship of the inaugural 2K season. We were really pleased with the players that we drafted and have high hopes for their success.
Aside from Bucks Gaming, what do you hope to see come from the inaugural 2K League, generally?
I would love to see the momentum keep going. It was amazing to see so much success so far in the season, starting with draft there were 4000 unique viewers with 40% being international viewers. I’m hoping that the 2K league can pull from and learn things from other competitive titles, such as League of Legends or Overwatch. There is so much room for growth, I’m just excited to be part of it from the beginning.
Wes Edens is invested in both the Bucks and League of Legends NALCS team, FlyQuest. What is the relationship the Bucks have, if any, with FlyQuest? How are you working together to build the next esports brand of the future?
We see FlyQuest as a big brother. We work together to build sponsorship deals and hosting community events. We are however, separate entities, but with that being said we are here to help each other as much as possible. Wes is very involved in both organizations and see both as a huge success moving forward.
What are your plans for growing the Bucks Gaming brand for 2018 and beyond?
Short term, we want to take advantage of the local community by hosting local tournaments and building crossover events with the Bucks brand, such a 2K pickup games during halftime of Bucks games.. Long term, want to become a gaming agonist brand, not just a 2K team. We want to encompass all esports communities.
What are you most excited for in esports in 2018?
Selfishly, really excited to see how the esports community accepts the 2K league. Also excited for brands entering the space and how they are prioritizing that as a brand strategy as well as any new teams or organizations that enter the OWL or NALCS.
Recently, the MLS and NHL have both announced their own esports leagues. Out of all the sports that have now entered esports, where do you see the potential for growth and which are you most excited to watch (aside from 2K league)?
I think FIFA really has a big opportunity to grow. FIFA and soccer is literally a global sport and has real potential to have a lasting impact on the esports community as it truly connects people from all over the world not just through esports but through traditional sports as well.
Over the month of January we saw multiple brands enter the esports market; sponsoring teams, league and the like. What do you feel are some of the hindering blocks for new brands wanting to enter the esports space and what piece of advice would you give them on entering?
I would say the hindering block is time. Esports is still very new, but as more people and games grow in viewership and more people continue to become aware, I feel that more bands will enter the space. As far as brands, I’d like to see in the space, I would have to say some sort of financial institution. I think the financial sector has a great opportunity to reach the younger demographic and it has a great platform to introduce to that demographic.
How did you get your start in esports? Have you always been a gamer or did you see the its potential and joined the hype train?
I grew up a gamer. Starting with games like FIFA and NBA street, but as I got older I moved into MOBAs like LoL. I was with the Bucks before the 2K league was announced, so when the opportunity arrived, I went to the Peter Feigin, President of the Bucks, and expressed my interest in the space and he gave me all the tools necessary to succeed.