Esports: A Vast Market Yet to be Tapped to its Full Potential: With Amir Mirzaee, COO at Bayes Esports
Amir has been active in tech business for over 15-years as a business founder, strategist and development professional. He’s also spent six-years as the BD lead at Google and Waze and has spent the last three-years investing in tech startups across Europe and the US.
Here in a compelling head-to-head with iGamingFuture he talks candidly about the “No BS” ethos of Generation X, the need to “keep it authentic” and the search for a Red Bull-style leader to take esports to the next level.
Why is the establishment of official data stream partnerships so important to the future success of the Esports betting industry? Is this the key to improved sporting integrity and player protection going forward?
“Esports is a digitally native sport, a lot more complex and fragmented than any other sport in the space. In this ecosystem, matches may be played on-site or off-site, data delays may vary, any sort of standards across leagues and even within game titles are basically non-existent, data sources may be unclear. Offering official game data means bringing structure to any content offering in Esports, be it betting, news, analytics or any other form. Establishing such an offering means shining light into the shadows, offering a way for legitimate operators to build a sustainable betting offering for fans, a trusted destination for punters. And more importantly, it means that a good part of all revenues flows back into the professional Esports ecosystem. This ecosystem needs those revenues to invest into larger prize pools, to get teams and coaches paid across all tiers, to run integrity measures, match monitoring, and so on. All of this starts with official data. On the flip side, collecting data unofficially is not just illegal, it is plain harmful to the Esports industry and all of its participants.”
The Esports sector is synonymous with the younger generation, which sometimes makes it challenging for brands led by an older demographic to authentically penetrate these communities. How can esports brands overcome this potential conflict of a generation going forward?
“This is Generation X and the last Millennials mostly. Generation “no BS”. My suggestion would be to keep it authentic, show some genuine interest and invest in the ecosystem. The good news is, just like Red Bull claimed Extreme Sports for themselves by facilitating amazing events and experience, you have literally hundreds of millions of esports fans eager to go out and engage with the sport. Brands can engage, support in making memorable experiences happen, and leave a lasting mark.”
Many operators attempting to enter the esports market may find it a challenge to integrate some of the new processes and products into their legacy systems. How important to the future success of the industry is innovation and leveraging new technology?
“If esports had an autobiography, it should be titled “A Different Beast”. From advertisers to operators, traditional market participants are having a hard time with esports because they are trying to handle it like traditional sports. My suggestion would be to work with external esports specialists, from marketing to trading, all the way to the front-end experience, until companies have built the expertise to handle esports in-house. Or they don’t and even leave the topic external. Again, esports is complex and a future topic that no one should ignore at this stage, but it only makes sense to engage meaningfully. Operators that try “also do a little esports” struggle.”
Some industry commentators believe the deliberate stream delays often implemented by broadcasters to combat cheating is indirectly having a negative effect on the industry and ruins the customer experience. Is there any way around this going forward or is this a necessary evil?
“It is true that delays are a double-edged sword as an essential tool in mitigating integrity threats. The pandemic has been a challenging time and as an industry, we’ve been very fortunate to be able to continue enjoying the sports, while most other sports were shut down. Strategically, I’m less concerned with delays as I’m expecting them to return to pre-pandemic levels as events return to on-site venues.
“I’m more concerned about why delays had to be introduced in the first place from the match integrity perspective, and this is a long term, multi-faceted issue. As an industry, we just have to do better in setting integrity standards, enforce match monitoring as well as betting monitoring to spot suspicious activity. This goes particularly for off-site events that will still always be part of this industry. League operators, betting operators, data service providers and integrity bodies need to work hand in hand here to jointly raise the bar and improve transparency in the industry, but most importantly, it can’t be done without the long-term involvement of the game publishers. Eventually, it is their Esport and their fan base that will suffer.
“Quite ironic, considering Riot is the only game publisher (outside of the ESL as league operator) that is pushing the envelope to drive esports data forward as an industry. They are the only game publisher in the world to provide an official data offering and that invests hard cash into supporting it with a solid (and expensive) integrity strategy. There is just no one that cares more about their Esport than Riot, period.”
You spent a considerable amount of time working at Google before entering your current role. Are there any key elements from this industry or any others outside of esports that would be useful for the future growth of the sector?
“My co-MD Martin Dachselt, former CTO at Delivery Hero, and I are drawing immensely from our corporate experience in terms of standardizing and scaling esports data. Our vision is for esports data to be standardized to the point that it can easily flow in and out of scalable infrastructures like marketplaces, cleanly and reliably, as well as commercially transparent. We’re here to build the infrastructure of tomorrow, consolidating the fragmented data offering of today to make it more useful to all participants in the esports ecosystem.”
Well, remember you read it here first. A truly fascinating—and info-packed—confab with one of esports’ brightest minds, a present and future industry leader.
Esports, Amir has reminded us, is a vast, still untapped, market. Like a bullet train it’s on-track to revolutionise iGaming. No half measures here. The Gaming industry needs to embrace esports or get crushed.
Marketing, perceptions, genuine interest and investing in the data ecosystem, Amir provides us all with the perfect roadmap.
The future is bright. The future is esports.
Amir will talk further about Data in Esports at iGB Live: https://www.igblive.com/features/igb-live-conference-agenda-2021 (29. & 30. Sep)