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NRG CEO Andy Miller Wants to Build the National Team of Vietnam in Esports – The Esports Observer

Esports organization NRG, parent company of two-time Overwatch League champions San Francisco Shock, recently unveiled a new joint venture with Vietnam-based fitness company CMG.ASIA. The companies launched a new entity, NRG Asia, which will field esports teams beginning in Vietnam and expanding throughout Southeast Asia.

The venture began as a conversation between Miller and NRG investor and CMG.ASIA chairman Randy Dobson. Dobson had previously worked with NRG Co-Founder Mark Mastrov, founder of 24-Hour Fitness prior to establishing his own fitness brand in Vietnam. He began to tell Miller about the esports market in the country and the opportunity available there.

“There really isn’t a national sport there per se…soccer’s not the thing,” Miller told Sports Business Journal, recounting what he learned from Dobson. He said gaming’s huge, League of Legends is huge, and they believe esports can be the national sport. They’re super proud of their team and wanted nothing more than to get a League team and put it on the international stage.”

The pair discussed this potential expansion over the course of a year, eventually bringing in Dobson’s business partners TK and Dru Nguyen. Finally, in May of 2021, NRG Asia would officially launch with TK and Dru serving as CEO and COO, respectively. Coinciding with the launch was the acquisition of leading Vietnamese League of Legends team GAM Esports.

Miller intends to bring the infrastructure and team-building strategy that created championship teams such as the Shock to create a Vietnamese team that compete at the highest level of international League of Legends competition. “It’s going to be great to watch the NRG brand at Worlds when all the other North American teams are knocked out.”

As he learned more about the region, Miller was struck by how much the NRG brand had already penetrated the Asian market. Apex Legends and Fortnite, where NRG fields top-level competitors, are both highly popular in Japan, but above all else Miller attributes the brand’s current presence in Asia to the success of the Shock..

“The Shock is was really puts NRG on the map in Asia…[based on our back-to-back championships] they just thought we were winners, that we know how to create an organization and build structure and support them. The Shock really have paid dividends more than I think people realize.”

Despite this, Miller notes that the company still has work to do in connecting the NRG brand to the Shock name. When the Overwatch League launched, teams were not allowed to use branding or names affiliated with their established esports teams if they competed in other games. As such, while the Shock are extremely popular, the average fan likely isn’t aware of the connection.

“I would still guess that most fans don’t know that Shock is part of NRG, which is really a miss. In Asia it’s probably even less so, but the Shock name is very well-known.”

Looking forward, Miller intends to move quickly in expanding NRG Asia to other titles. Mobile esports are extremely popular in Southeast Asia, and so the company is already moving to establish a team in the mobile version of League of Legends, Wild Rift. Miller also noted games like Call of Duty Mobile as expansion opportunities.

Along with these expansion plans comes the goal of building up the League of Legends team as a pillar of Vietnamese competition. Miller has a clearly stated goal for the team: “We want to be the national team of Vietnam.”

While this may seem a lofty goal to a Western audience, it may not be such a reach in Vietnam. Miller said he was surprised when the Nguyen brothers expected NRG Asia’s reveal to gain national attention, but they were right. The announcement made headlines throughout the country, even appearing on major national news channels.

“It just goes to show how popular gaming is there, how young the population is, and how interested they are in having a real, thriving community.”

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