I feel e-sports is the next billion dollar sports industry. It's the sports of the 21st century. It's in its infancy now, but I see it becoming potentially as huge as the NFL or NBA are today. Unlike them though, it's played everywhere. It's appeal with the 20 to 40 year old demographic is staggering. As these generations ascend to become the world's economic backbone, I see the decline of 20th century stadium sports and into the space created will step e-sports.
There will be several reasons for this. The e-sport venue being cheaper than a stadium is no small part of the reason. Ditto for the actual competitors. Like golf, they only get paid for how well they play, whether that's tournament prize or endorsement pay. However, that is not the majority reason. The stars of e-sport are just average people with talent and dedication. They are the quintessential any person. They could be your neighbor or your class mate. This gives average people like you and me hope; perhaps one day we can become famous just like them. Today's professional athlete, many of whom are groomed from a very early age, have lost this characteristic. As the average person comes see them more and more as privileged elite, we will turn our eyes to those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps - or in this case mouse cord - to become the best.
And there to help these 21st century role models accomplish this will be Sovereign Gaming League (SGL.) I met Ben Brownlow, the Marketing Director for SGL, at EVE Vegas the other weekend and was very impressed with what he and the company are doing. His excitement was infectious to say the least. He offered an interview and what sort of blogger would refuse that? So, settle in and learn about the next awesome thing coming to players of EVE Online!
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: Well, I am the Director of Marketing with Sovereign Gaming. I've worked in marketing since 2008 and have played EVE Online since 2007. I've been heavily involved with the gaming community since 2008 when I worked as the Director of Marketing for Firestorm Gaming Servers. I was responsible for the sale of Firestorm Gaming Servers back in 2009, but have since worked as a consultant for many gaming businesses. I've played semi-professionally for Call of Duty 4 and enjoy a wide variety of PC Games.
Q: What is Sovereign Gaming League (SGL) all about?
A: SGL is really centered on the average player regardless of which game the player is involved in. As we host tournaments, we are anticipating the well established players to come in and play. As we move them to higher class tournaments we want to give the same kind of exposure to our other players in the other classes as our top class competitors. SGL is about involving everyone and providing a platform for players to really challenge themselves in the games that they are involved in. To some things all up, Sovereign Gaming League is about Gamers, not sponsors or the business itself, and we expect players to hold us accountable to that promise.
Q: What led you to take the plunge into e-sports with SGL?
A: Back when I was operating with Firestorm Gaming Servers, I had purposed this eSport idea as an expansion to the business which was originally going to be called the Digital Major League. However, Firestorm Gaming Servers sold and so the idea was put on the back burner. In 2012, the President of SGL and myself began drafting up the business model which would later get its name Sovereign Gaming League, a name that derives from a project a sister company (Firestorm Development) has worked on. I've loved EVE Online since I was first introduced and so naturally when we drafted the business model we focused on EVE since it has been largely untouched. We acquired great funding for our project and immediately began investing into our software development.
Q: How far along are you in realizing your goals?
A: We are very far and have received great support from the community, in fact much more than was anticipated. This gives us great confidence as we move forward. With the business model that we have planned we haven't had to go on a desperate search for sponsors. We are self sustainable and therefore will be around for a long period of time. We will be looking into sponsors in the future but only on the benefit of the player, again re-emphasizing that we are a player driven company.
Q: When do you think SGL will go live?
A: My last talk with our development team allows me to say that we are on track for an early Q1 release.
Q: How will SGL work?
A: As a basic rundown of how the tournaments are run we like to compare it to the world cup. Each tournament will begin with a series of qualifier matches which awards a team or player points. Then depending on the input (ie, 32, 64 or 128) the top teams will play through a bracket. And yes, there will be prizes, but they vary based on the tournaments. Our prices will vary for paid tournaments but they will be close to $5 dollars for solo events and $20 dollars for team events (which is $20 for all players, not per player).
We will be hosting Free and Paid Tournaments. Free tournament prizes will vary from small cash prizes $25 to $200 to T-Shirts and our paid tournaments we are looking at prizes that range from $500 to $5000 to Flights and tickets to EVE Fanfest. These will vary based on participation but we are confident that we will pay out nicely.
Q: I know CCP made a general call for community contacts, especially in the e-sports area, during EVE Vegas. Have you contacted CCP?
A: Absolutely. We have received very rapid response in both EVE atmosphere and in Dust 514. We are excited to be working very close to the developers to provided well organized events for the EVE Universe.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share with my readers?
A: Expect more updates on our website www.sovereigngamingleague.com November 1st [Mabrick edit: that's today. Go look!.] Also we are lonely on twitter so follow us on twitter @Sovereign_GL. We would also love to hear from the community about what they would like to see coming from Sovereign Gaming League, as our software is developed to be expandable. Thanks for all the support, we think you guys are great and deserve what we will be offering.
If this doesn't make the PvPer in you crow, nothing will. Ben also confided in me that they will be integrating streaming into their system at a future date so we can all watch and enjoy. Keep an eye on their website and spread the word. Sovereign Gaming League is coming soon!
Note: I have not received any compensation from anyone to post this interview. I do it out of love of the game and the idea of e-sport. This post is an endorsement of e-sport in general and any company working to make e-sport a reality. It should not be viewed as a specific recommendation. You're on your own in that regard.