This week’s Intel FutureGen session saw Charlie Allen, ESL’s Director of Global Partnerships, talk about his life in the world of business – and how it led him to the world of esports.
Allen has been with ESL for eighteen months, and has nearly twenty years’ of experience in media, sports and entertainment. Allen started his career in sponsorship, marketing and events management, and moved to consultancy firms where he improved his commercial and sales skills.
His work has involved sports like football, tennis, rugby and even the Olympics and companies like Ford, Emirates, Fox and National Geographic – he’s worked on global events and brands.
And then, in 2018, Allen’s head was turned by esports. Despite not being an avid gamer since his teens, Allen used his experience elsewhere to see the huge amount of noise and passion in the growing esports scene – and how those passionate, growing audiences could deliver great results for bigger, better partners.
Allen explained that his current role revolves around those partnerships – how to get brands, agencies and companies to sponsor ESL’s tournaments and leagues, which in turn generates revenue for ESL and helps those partners engage with huge new audiences.
The majority of Allen’s career has been outside of esports, and he’s adamant that experience with traditional organisations can help anyone who wants to work in esports In Allen’s view, it’s a great approach: he’s been able to incorporate positive aspects from traditional organisations into his work at ESL, and his huge experience elsewhere has given him a huge contact book to help in forming new partnerships.
And that, to him, is key - throughout his career he’s gone beyond his own industry to develop new contacts and opportunities, and he advises anyone interested in esports to work elsewhere in order to gain the right experience – because that experience can be transferred to your new role.
Allen says this is important because esports is oversubscribed – often the jobs just aren’t there. Broad experiences and ample networking is important, too, because it means you’re more likely to run into people who can help you at any stage of your career, including in years to come – people often pop up in new roles.
It’s a pure numbers game, and it’s important to always establish good relationships and remain professional. After all, people will always be more likely to buy from people they like.
Allen encourages people to take detours, explore different avenues and to constantly evaluate what you’re doing. Even if you can’t start working in esports immediately, you can find roles that will help you work towards that end goal – and make you a better employee when you get there.
The first audience question asked Allen if he spends more or less time educating potential partners about esports – and Allen explained that it hasn’t really changed. More money coming into esports means newer, bigger partners – which means education remains key, despite esports becoming more visible.
Allen was also asked about what traditional sports and esports can learn from each other. Allen said that he’d love to see traditional sports engage fans more – there are passionate communities, but they’re not nearly as involved as esports fans often are on social media.
The third question saw Allen tackle whether or not traditional broadcasters should start showing esports. Allen is excited about traditional media covering esports, and reckons that it’s only a matter of time before it happens more – those companies will realise that they’re missing a huge audience. When it comes to esports, though, he still sees Twitch remaining the biggest viewing platform.
Allen’s session was the last in our planned Intel FutureGen 2020 series – head to the Intel FutureGen hub to catch up with all six of these fascinating discussions.