Your mission is to be the most culturally impactful esports and gaming company in the world, what separates you guys from other companies who are aiming to do the same?
I love knowing that other esport organizations have similar aspirational goals to be a culturally impactful esports and gaming company. While I can’t comment on the vision and strategy of other esports companies, I do believe Tiidal Gaming Group’s history of having the first organized Canadian competitive team almost a dozen years ago and its strategic focus are unique.
Having Team Lazarus be the top ranked in Canada in 2019, and be recognized among the best globally, has expanded the awareness of Team Lazarus/TGG. The increased reach will continue to provide us with a significant platform to leverage. The meteoric rise in popularity and participation in gaming in throughout North America in the past few years has made it relevant to the advertising, sponsorship, and media community. As a premium brand in a relevant industry, I believe we will receive more and more opportunities to be showcased. And as you know, having been the first Canadian organization of its kind, has fostered deeply embedded relationships in the gaming community... the roots are authentic.
So when you combine Reach, Relevance, and real Relationships, Tiidal will be able to grow its Resources. Our strategy is to eventually deploy those resources in targeted areas to increase fandom and the community, cultivate competitive talent, and generate more quality content. We will remain committed to partnerships and strategic alliances that promote diversity and inclusion, as demonstrated with our early partnership with SheIs, the first organization to mobilize fans to grow women’s sports as well as having females involved in competitive gaming.
What trends in the esports industry do you see coming, and how do you plan to capitalize on them?
I think the global Covid19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of growth for esports. The amount of exposure and participation increased exponentially since the “shelter at home” policies took effect along with restrictions imposed on other entertainment and “allowable” socialization options.
As always, advances in technology has catalyze the industry and will continue to be responsible for the shift in accessibility and consumption. The opportunity for the increase in mobility and apps that allow for quality gaming in markets with large populations like Brazil and Southeast Asia. The proliferation of affordable smart phones and apps for more accessible gaming will cause the mobile marketplace to expand rapidly.
I believe there will be significant opportunities in the betting/wagering space. Just as many people believe sports betting helped catapult the NFL to immense popularity, once policies and regulations are standardized that allow for widespread wagering, that segment will have explosive growth. I think similar to the Other The Top (OTT)experience in traditional broadcast content, there will be more direct to consumer opportunities. And another area posed for growth will be data analytics. It will be interesting what the interplay between data analytics and sports betting will be. Tiidal will be evaluating opportunities though strategic alliances, partnerships, or other ways to provide help to enable as many aspects of the esports ecosystem as makes good business sense... I believe the success of our competitive teams, the popularity of our brand, and the vision of key people in the organization will allow us to take advantage of the right opportunities.
From Commissioner of the Canadian Football League to chairman of Tiidal, what led you getting into the esports industry?
It’s an exciting, emerging space and I’ve always been attracted to opportunities where I could use my experience and skill sets to help grow a business, build a brand, and support a team. Esports is the nexus between sports, entertainment, media, and technology...all of which I have a background in and passion for, so it was a perfect fit for me.
Having been a sports executive for most of my career focused on both “what’s now” and “what’s next”, I had been aware of esports’ popularity in Asia, but to see the projected growth trajectory in audiences globally, and specially in North America, was something I had to pay attention to. In the business of sport, you always want to be aware of what product is competitive and what’s complimentary to your business, so I had been following esports for a couple years before I officially got involved. As you know, esports audiences are projected to eclipse most traditional sports in North America in a few short years.
What are the unique ways Tiidal is building value that most people may not be aware of?
We’ve been fortunate to have world-class players involved in Team Lazarus and that success has really helped build the brand value. As with traditional sports, intrinsic value is built by winning organizations and fan engagement. With some Top finishes in Fortnite and other extremely popular tournaments, our fan engagement and awareness continues to grow. Tiidal is also in discussions with potential sponsors, partners, and key strategic alliances which will expand our reach, increase our relevance, and deepen our relationships.
Two part question here, what do you think about the global appeal and potential of e-sports as a space? What are you guys working on to have a worldwide presence and brand?
Data projections suggest the Global esports audience is expected to reach 500M by 2021 and that the gaming industry revenue will be as high as $300B by 2025, up from $130B in 2018. Given that approximately 80% of viewership for esports is digital, not confined by barriers of physical space, and more than 2B people say they have watched or are gamers, I think the potential is beyond accurate prediction at this point in time. Technology, affordability, and increased consumer appetite are key drivers and continue to fuel the acceleration of growth. Because eSports knows no geographic boundaries, Team Lazarus has competed in more than 11 titles all around the world, physically and virtually. I think that may qualify us as and globally recognized brand and we will continue to compete and make every effort to win in key markets around the world.
Are you a gamer? What is your all-time favourite game?
My 15 year old would argue that I’m not a gamer and have never been a gamer. Im so bad I have to sneak downstairs when everyone’s asleep and play NBA2K...that’s my speed. :)