Esports Game of Thrones | Jonathan Pan

Jonathan Pan CEO of Elemental & VP at DOJO Madness talks with Mark Register about who will win the Esports Game of Thrones to become the central hub for Esports

Mark Register – Will ESPN or Activision or anyone else be able to congregate all of those different leagues and teams and everything like that under one umbrella or is it going to be the ABC, NBC, whatever for Esports?

Jonathan Pan – Yeah that’s very interesting, I’m actually thinking about writing about this topic a lot because I kind of see three…it’s kind of Game of Thrones and there’s three major factions emerging.

I don’t have the right factions mapped out right now but let’s just say three nameless factions. I think Activision Blizzard is definitely one faction now. What they’ve done in the last three months is amazing. Not just in Esports but even with their studios.

So they’re really ramping up and they went from a little bit like rocky and shaky a couple years ago to making a huge bet, not just in Esports but in gaming, so they’re one. The reason why I call them a faction is they have so many Esports titles and non Esports titles that they’re just a big slice of the market.

But their capabilities and I think their ambitions are so large that they could even expand to other non-Activision Blizzard games as well. So they’re a force to be reckoned with in the next 5 – 10 years in Esports if not even longer.

The second faction is what I would call MTG ESL. So MTG had the first huge acquisition in Esports mainly in the tournament organizer space and now they’re in too deep. You can’t just own ESL and Dreamhack and what not because if you own one layer of all of Esports, if you monopolize one layer of Esports you could start to charge increased rates, but developers will not like that.

So it’s a testy situation for them to be in. Therefore one way they could become stronger is to continue to own other components of Esports properties such as maybe MTG should own a team, and maybe it sounds crazy, why do you own a League, a team, and what not, well why not?

Because we’re in this world where there are no rules, people keep comparing it to sports but this is a brand new world in which frankly, will effect sports. So MTG ESL is definitely a major player for the next 5 – 10 years as well. And then the third is what I like to call the “Wild Card.”

It’s probably going to be…Valve could do something if they wanted to, you just can’t count them out, they’re such a powerful force too. And then of course there’s the Tencent Riot Games, that is probably the 800 lb gorilla in the room because if they want to do something they can do it.

Tencent prints money. It just depends on what they’re overall investment thesis is but once they get going they’ll make moves too. They’ll make moves that make the moves that Activision Blizzard have seem small, because we’re talking about a much smaller market in West vs the East.

Even if they did the same thing that Activision Blizzard did in the West, they’ll do way better just because of a huger market East.

The other one is ELeague, is that going to fizzle out and if not where does that fit in that equation?
Actually that’s a great point so there should be in that case four factions, I can’t believe I forgot about them.

They’re actually huge too not just because of the ELeague alone but because when you have an organization like TBS or Turner Entertainment, when they make such a public foray into the Esports scene, you know they’re going to commit a whole lot of capital and energy into it.

And they’re the only ones with…well MTG does have TV properties in Europe so Turner obviously has TV properties in the United States so we will see how that turns out.

I do think that Turner has way more content and properties that Esports viewers would probably be more familiar with than MTG properties which are kind of limited to Scandinavia and Russia and what not.

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