Esports has been part of my DNA since 2001. It continues to capture my attention and excite as it rapidly moves into the entertainment space. My early days in esports were centred around team management, competing in tournaments with friends and operating events. I was fortunate to be head-hunted to help manage one of the world’s leading esports teams while I was at university. This experience gave me unique insight into the challenges of operating a team that included a diverse set of nationalities and cultures. The players exhibited the same passion and emotion I experienced when I played competitively. The thrill that every practice and match played was different and that victory was an emotion best shared with others.

My competitive nature is evident in other areas – when playing rugby I much preferred match day than the training. The sense that anything could happen and that each decision and situation could alter the outcome.

Today we see this emotion in esports being shared by the fans who support the players and teams and it is this engagement that has helped build the esports market globally. Yes there have been hurdles along the way, and ones I’ve experienced first-hand, such as the death of the Warcraft 3 competitive community due to inflated salaries, or DirectTV’s failed attempt at a franchised league because it attempted to change the structure of games away from what the fans wanted. Regardless of those troubles there have still been pillars who have helped establish esports properties for fans to rally around. ESL, Dreamhack and MLG have done a great job in the tournament space and long-standing teams like SK-Gaming, Dignitas and Complexity have created rivalries.

My passion for esports has constantly been questioned by people I meet and I’ve spent a lot of time helping educate and guide family, friends and large corporates on what exactly esports is and the ways to get involved. This is what we’ve built Cheesecake Digital for – educating and guiding on the structure of esports, the challenges and the opportunities. My belief is that esports is the future of entertainment due to the direct engagement between fans and players and the emotions of competition. Through this education and guidance we can support more brands, developers, media partners and interested bystanders to get involved. Their involvement will help esports grow further and become the entertainment of choice.

Philip Wride