WePlay Esports is a media holding company that has prided itself on doing things differently in the esports industry. The firm currently has offices in the USA, China and Ukraine, highlighting its immediate goal to become a globally recognised entity.
Additionally, the tournament organiser has focused on ‘esportainment’ – a phased coined by WePlay employees regarding the firm’s emphasis on the entertainment aspect of competitive gaming.
Esports Insider spoke with Oleg Krot, Managing Partner and CEO of WePlay Esports to discuss how the company is looking to set itself apart from its rivals by building dedicated esports arenas and investing in separate organisations. Moreover, Oleg explains the strategy behind his company’s latest investments and the new arenas that are being constructed.
Esports Insider: It was announced at the end of September that WePlay Esports had invested in Organization.GG. Could you please tell us more about how this investment came to be, and why WePlay Esports opted for this platform over other streamer engagement sites? Will you focus on marketing its events through streamers more and more?
Oleg Krot: You need to constantly add value to the audience if you want to succeed in esports or any other competitive industry, especially when focusing on entertainment. WePlay Esports is a team of professionals whose hearts burn for esports and what they do for it. Organization.GG fit this profile and thus became the obvious choice for investment in this area.
Our audience knows that when they follow WePlay Esports tournament broadcasts, they watch more than the matches and the analyst panel in between. They watch a whole story that gradually unravels with Source Filmmaker films, comedy skits, broadcast talent performances, and various plugs. Organization.GG will help us add interactive elements to this story and engage the audience directly.
ESJ: The investment in Organization.GG clearly isn’t a one-off move – that much was made clear in its announcement. Could you share any further information about other investments that you may soon be announcing?
OK: The WePlay Esports business model includes the organisation of professional, semi-professional, and amateur tournaments; production studios globally; brick and mortar esports arenas around the world; development of software solutions, including apps for mobile devices and TV sets, and other areas. Most of what we do today has been created or developed internally by our teams across various continents.
Investing in different companies and startups gives us access to personnel and solutions that are hard to acquire elsewhere. I will be able to share the plans for investments or acquisitions of new startups when it’s an appropriate time for that.
ESJ: Back at the ESI Digital Summit in May, two of WePlay Esports’ senior staff presented a session about a sizable, planned expansion. Such a move naturally requires significant capital. Has the company recently received additional investment or is WePlay Esports already well-positioned to make these ambitious plans a reality?
OK: The yearly budget of WePlay Esports has been consistently growing, and this trend will most likely continue throughout 2021 and 2022.
Since the formal inception of the company in 2012, Yura Lazebnikov – Managing Partner of WePlay Esports – and I have kept the majority stake in this business, and we will keep it that way. At the same time, we are planning to announce a new investor who is interested in esports as a novel form of entertainment as soon as it is possible.
ESJ: Can you provide an update on the progress of these expansion plans? Or has the Coronavirus pandemic put pay to them for now and caused a reassessment?
OK: The pandemic showed one of the big advantages of esports – it can safely take place even amid a global health crisis when it’s not safe to leave your home. The outbreak of COVID-19 did cause a change of some plans and the delay for some launches, but it made no impact on our major goals and the big picture.
Today, we have two fully-equipped esports arenas in Los Angeles and Kyiv that are almost ready to host esports events. We have soft-launched DashFight, which is a project that I believe the fighting game community will soon learn to enjoy, and we are in the final stages of preparation to launch new tournament circuits. We have also soft-launched a mobile application, and more apps are on the way.
Read the full version of this article in Edition 7 of The Esports Journal.