After a busy 12 months in esports, we caught up with FACEIT CoFounder and Chief Business Officer Michele Attisani for the next in our end of year Q&A series.
Esports Insider: Have you managed to pause for breath much at FACEIT this year?
Michele: FACEIT is growing at an incredible rate, from our userbase to our staff, and honestly, if I had had time to breathe this year then I would have been doing something wrong.
That being said, we are still strongly focused on our goals to provide the best possible competitive community experience and content to our users and fans, and we feel we are still keeping true to this core value.
“Few games have had the same traction in such a short timeframe after the release and Overwatch brings new and exciting challenges and translates well to a mainstream audience on TV and online”
Esports Insider: You worked with ELEAGUE and Blizzard to help bring the Overwatch Open to primetime TBS, did this go the way you’d hoped? Do you think Overwatch is as easy a fit for TV and ‘mainstream audiences’ as CSGO?
Michele: Overwatch is one of the most promising esports games of 2016, our first foray into the title was a huge success and we can’t wait to do more. Few games have had the same traction in such a short timeframe after the release and Overwatch brings new and exciting challenges and translates well to a mainstream audience on TV and online.
There is still work to be done to improve the game as an esport but Blizzard is clearly committing lots of resources to make that happen, we in turn plan to continue advising and supporting them as much as possible. One of the most interesting things about Overwatch is that it reaches fans of standard FPS titles as well as those of MOBA’s, RTS, MMO’s and mobile games, this gives it a huge potential for growing esports as a whole industry.
Esports Insider: The ECS Finals Season 1 was held in London at the SSE Arena. What makes a great esports venue? And moreover, what do you think of London as a city for major esports events, will it continue to attract more and what goes into the thought process when selecting a city for a Grand Finals?
Michele: London is our home city and we feel that it has a lot of possibilities in terms of esports, with such a diverse cultural palette and some of the most impressive venues in the world, it will always be a strong contender for a finals location.
“We have an extensive list of requirements that must be met for us to even consider a venue for the ECS finals”
Suitable esports venues are actually very difficult to find even in North America and Europe. We have an extensive list of requirements that must be met for us to even consider a venue for the ECS finals. Most venues are set up for live events and can accommodate TV broadcasting, but adding Twitch broadcasting and video games, space for 8 teams’ practice rooms, stages large enough to accommodate player booths, close to large fan bases etc… creates another level of challenge altogether.
Esports Insider: As a company with a base in London you are assumedly big believers in the UK as a potential esports hub, something the recent UKIE whitepaper suggested. In your view, what is the potential of this and what are the priorities to get the ball rolling?
Michele: The UK is a very interesting esports ecosystem and the community is as passionate as they come, which could be seen from ECS Season 1 at the SSE Arena, Wembley. We feel that the UK does have the potential to become a hub for esports as long as we can continue to build a strong community of fans.
“We feel that the UK does have the potential to become a hub for esports as long as we can continue to build a strong community of fans”
In Europe as a whole, it is much harder to say that there is a specific country that is the “hub” for esports as it is for somewhere like LA in the States, which is quickly becoming a clear center for North American esports. Europe has large numbers of fantastic fans and professional teams all over, which leaves many exciting opportunities to spread the ECS brand.
Esports Insider: Are rev share leagues in which teams are co-owners going to become more and more prominent?
Michele: Especially for independent companies such as ours, we would like to think so!
One of the core ECS directives is to support and develop the growth of esports as a whole. This means that we take great care to look beyond our brand and try to set examples for others to follow, such as the introduction of co-ownership leagues and more recently the move to 1080p 60fps broadcasting. While esports is not exactly the same as traditional sports, we can learn a lot from them and we can clearly see the benefits that this specific structure can bring to the game’s stability and growth for everyone, that means not just the organiser.
“In 2016 the word is breakthrough, whilst for 2017 I’ll go with ascension”
Esports Insider: Word game finale. Can you sum up the year esports has had in 2016 in one word, and give us another one word 2017 forecast?
Michele: In 2016 the word is breakthrough, whilst for 2017 I’ll go with ascension.
We feel that esports has truly made a clear step into the light this year with so much mainstream attention and progress in the general quality of the event and broadcasts, as well as professional sports teams beginning to take a very vested interest in the scene.
Following the success of our first year of ECS and games like Overwatch bringing whole new opportunities and investors, esports could be on the brink of ascending to something amazing, our goal is to continue to focus on community and fanbase while building on the strong foundations we have laid in 2016, where esports is concerned the sky’s the limit!