Ali “Alicus” Saba is no stranger to building an esports organisation from a modest size to an undeniable fan-favourite – just look at his time on Misfits and his own organisation, Laser Kittenz.
After taking some time away from the industry, Alicus returned to join one of the biggest organisations in the game – Infinite Esports and Entertainment: the holding company for OpTic Gaming, Houston Outlaws, Allegiance, Obey, among other brands.
To get some information on his latest role, Director of International Development, we got in touch with Alicus.
Esports Insider: First of all, how is Dallas treating you?
Ali “Alicus” Saba: Dallas is amazing. Staying in Frisco, which is upstate Dallas, it’s beautiful, you can tell it’s a new city because the architecture just looks so fresh and clean. The weather has been the easiest transition, coming from Egypt to sunny Texas – it’s basically Egypt Light. The people here are very friendly, unlike many other big cities I’ve been in, strangers here don’t shy away from starting a conversation or trying to learn about you. I love it.
ESI: When you left Misfits in early 2017, you stated that you weren’t ready to settle down and you were hoping for an opportunity outside of esports. Since then, you’ve joined Infinite Esports and Entertainment. What changed on the lead up to your new role?
Alicus: I spent most of 2017 travelling around the world. Misfits grew really big very fast, and with it, the workload at my desk. I ended up burning out, because for the most part, in terms of operations, we were still a small team. Excellent individuals for sure, but a small team. Misfits have now definitely expanded in that department, but I needed a break.
“This is the perfect environment for me”
In regards to Infinite, I knew I wanted to be here after my very first conversation with Chris Chaney. Initially, I was consulting during the winter while watching them lay the groundwork, and then when I received the offer for full-time employment, I signed it right away. I can honestly say, I don’t know anyone in this space that does esports on the same scale that we do here at Infinite.
ESI: You’ve been with Infinite Esports and Entertainment for around six months at this point and you’ve already changed roles from Scouting Director to Director of International Development. Does this mean we can expect the company’s portfolio to follow suit with OpTic India and keep expanding outside of North America under your supervision?
Alicus: Yes. India was a massive success, and it’s just the beginning. I think there are lots of untapped markets that could truly benefit from us being at the forefront of their esports development, but that’s not the only reason. When you, for example, have a brand as iconic as OpTic, with a very diverse fanbase all over the world, you have to find ways to build closer connections with your fans. So, if you’re out there, and you love us, know this: we are coming.
ESI: Was you as involved in the OpTic India initiative as the initial announcement stated? It appeared as if you changed roles during the process.
Alicus: We have a great group of people that worked tirelessly on that initiative. I did change roles during the process because it helped me realize I can do a lot more on the business side.
ESI: Have there been any challenges that you didn’t anticipate since starting with Infinite Esports and Entertainment?
Alicus: Being surrounded by industry leaders forces you to evolve your game if you want to be productive. It’s great for personal growth, this is the perfect environment for me.
“Everybody wins, we just win a little more”
ESI: Are there any key regions or countries which you believe are underexplored that you think are ripe for further exposure to esports?
Alicus: Of course. We are constantly evaluating data on that front, and we have some amazing things in the pipeline. Stay tuned!
ESI: What are the long-term goals for the organisation specifically with international development? Global domination?
Alicus: There are obviously strategic objectives, and not every project would serve the same specific purpose. I think that’s natural with the diversified portfolio of companies under our wing – it’s a great set of tools to choose from when identifying how to best penetrate new markets. With that said, however, the one major goal all those projects would have in common is really growing the esports industry itself, globally.
Everybody wins, we just win a little more.