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XLIVE Interview Series
XLIVE Interview Series - Daniel Herz - Complexity Gaming.jpg

XLIVE Interview Series - Daniel Herz - compLexity

Today on the XLIVE Interview Series we had the opportunity to sit down with Daniel Herz, Chief Revenue Officer and Vice President at Complexity Gaming.

Complexity gaming is one of the oldest professional esports teams and is synonymous with esports, after winning hundreds of tournament in dozens of titles.  We spoke about what’s next for complexity, the new GameStop Performance Center, how to create meaningful partnerships in today’s esports space, and more.

Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us today, Daniel. Complexity is one of the oldest esports teams, and as we all know have received investment from Jerry Jones and John Goff of the Dallas Cowboys. Since investment is secure and ownership set, what’s next for you guys? What’s top of mind and what’s next as we head into the second half of 2019?

Since our ownership group and investment is set, we are able to focus on the long-term growth, innovation, and infrastructure of not only our organization, but also more broadly within the culture of gaming and entertainment. Our relationship with the Dallas Cowboys allows more flexibility for us to mature in a unique way and explore new opportunities. We are learning and adopting best practices from one of the most renowned traditional sports teams in the world and providing our players with access to state of the art training facilities, such as Cowboys Fit, and top nutrition at the Cowboys’ Training Table. With the opening of our new headquarters, the GameStop Performance Center (GSPC), last month, we now have a dedicated space to create and implement changes that will benefit players, organizations, and fans alike. We want to continue to explore innovation in esports, developing partnerships and initiatives that drive the industry forward as well as further professionalize the industry for esports athletes.

Additionally, since The Star is a cornerstone of the local community, the GSPC will also be open to the public to socialize, play the latest games, shop for Complexity and our partners’ merchandise, or attend events. We want to make our headquarters a permanent home for all of our fans, new and old.

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You personally have experience with sponsorship, and even some in traditional sports, before your career brought you into esports. Was esports and gaming something you were always interested in? And what of your past experience translated best?

Funny enough, growing up, my mom didn’t actually let me have video games in our house, so I spent as much time as possible at my friends’ houses to play the latest games. When I wasn’t sneaking off to my friends to play Halo, I spent most of my childhood competing in sports, from basketball to tennis. I continued to play sports throughout college, which eventually led to my first job at the Denver Broncos.

When I started my career, I sought a competitive outlet to alleviate stress and turned to my love of video games. That’s when I started playing Counter-Strike. I was still just beginning to learn about the world of competitive gaming, but I remembered streaming ESL One Cologne in 2015. Esports encompassed everything I loved about traditional sports and intense competition. There was an insane crowd that was gathered to celebrate their collective passion, which created this contagious energy that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. From then on, I knew I had to work in esports and made the transition shortly after.

When I reflect on my past working in both esports and traditional sports, I’ve come to realize that the key to success is building relationships. In both industries, my most successful colleagues and mentors invest in people first. They never look at their business as transactions but rather use these moments as opportunities to create long lasting relationships.

With regards to brand partnerships in the space, we all talk about ‘meaningful’ and ‘authentic’ partnerships. Simply put, what’s required to be authentic and meaningful in the space today?  How can partnerships create impact?

To develop meaningful partnerships in esports, it’s important for brands to first identify a space within the industry where they can provide value to players and fans. At Complexity, we partner with brands that want to grow with us and that are interested in driving innovation and propelling the industry forward, rather than slapping their logo somewhere. Our partnerships aim to engage the esports community, educate the major industry players, uncover solutions to prevent injuries and extend professional careers of esports athletes, and create meaningful esports experiences for fans.

How can we best measure ROI on our brand partnerships?

The most important thing to do for brand partnerships is to first define success. This stems  from an open dialogue between the brand and the other partner to ensure they’re building one program that encompasses  both companies’ goals and will be mutually beneficial.

It’s also important for brands to understand that traditional ROI measurements and methods are not mirrored in esports. There are unique metrics, touch points, and consumption habits that have to be accounted for. Brands that can address these early enough can use this as their foundation for a successful program. But if discrepancies in traditional methods and esports methods are addressed too late, it can be detrimental to the long term success of a brand in the industry.

How is Complexity different from other esports teams? What do you guys do to stand out and create success?

At Complexity, we operate with a player-first mentality and believe that equipping our players with the tools and infrastructure to perform their best will yield success. A fundamental pillar of our organization is our investment in the long-term health and well-being of our players. Emphasizing our Founder and CEO Jason Lake’s vision of “Esports 3.0,” we have and will continue to treat our players like professional athletes. This includes providing our players with health benefits, state-of-the-art physical training facilities, luxury housing, nutritional meals for optimum performance, preventative measures for injuries, retirement planning, sports psychology, media training, and continued education in esports to ensure success well beyond their playing careers.

From a partnership and revenue standpoint, we try to always lead with cause and storytelling. We want to be a place where brands can create true impact for the community and create a lasting relationship.

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What can you tell us about the GameStop Performance Center? What about the opening excites you most?

Our new headquarters is one of the most advanced esports facilities in the U.S. The GSPC houses a public area and retail space for visitors as well as cutting-edge performance facilities for team members, including recovery, wellness and mental health amenities. The first-of-its-kind headquarters is a manifestation of our commitment to advance the esports industry and our vision for the “Esports 3.0” era, where esports athletes are treated like professional sports athletes, which is truly exciting.

The GSPC is much more than just a headquarters, though. Since Complexity is more of a globally recognized brand, this marks an opportunity for us to deepen roots to a regional community while also creating a beacon of content and information for the larger audience.

How can people get in touch with you to learn more?

Follow me on Twitter @danfhertz or LinkedIn.

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