ESI Super Forum

Where sports meet esports: Introducing the ESI Super Forum at #bofcon2018

SBC Global and Esports Insider have teased the launch of the ESI Super Forum for next year’s Betting on Football conference at Stamford Bridge (20-23 March).

Following on from the success of the Esports Insider Forum Series, held at Fnatic’s Bunkr between July and October, the ESI Super Forum has been confirmed as a stand alone event for the second full day of #bofcon2018 (Thursday 22 March).

It has been designed to provide a thorough explanation of the opportunities and challenges that exist within the worlds of traditional sports and esports, as the two become increasingly intertwined.

The agenda will not be confined to gambling, with panel discussions and workshops covering whether an esports team is a worthy investment, why and how sports clubs should get involved, the Olympic debate, case studies of the Overwatch League, sponsorships and plenty more.

Overall, there will be six panels and workshops comprising more than 30 experts in the space, while there will also be an esports business exhibition zone, meeting rooms, tournaments and plenty of opportunity to network throughout the day and into the evening at the event’s official closing party at Under the Bridge.

This conference’s focus on the convergence of traditional sports stakeholders and esports comes at a pivotal time. We’re seeing evermore team owners and players from the worlds of the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, football, and more entering the space, from securing stakes or outright buying teams and franchises in leagues to launching their own companies. This week for instance there was news of the Gerard Piqué backed eFootball.pro signing a partnership with Konami.

We can take the Overwatch League as an example of this sports meets esports phenomenon too; of its twelve franchises, eight of them have ties to traditional sports team owners or players.

New York Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon is tied to Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Gladiators are owned by the Kroenke Group, which has stakes in Arsenal FC, the LA Rams and four Colorado teams, while their neighbouring side Los Angeles Valiant is owned by the Immortals organisation which has seen investment from the co-owner of the Memphis Grizzlies. Finally, The Anschutz Group is involved in LA Galaxy, LA Kings and the LA Lakers.

There are plenty more ties between major sports clubs and their owners in both the Overwatch League, for which franchise slots have reportedly cost upwards of $20m (£15.2m), and elsewhere in teams across League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO, Rocket League, FIFA and other titles.

Undoubtedly, esports organisations could learn something from the business models and organisational structures in sports which have lasted the test of time and found ever more inventive ways of monetising, whilst these same clubs and sports bodies would do well to take a note out of some of their esports counterparts when it comes to new ideas and fan engagement.

One of four packed-out ESI Forum Series events looked at the opportunity for football clubs specifically in esports, and why they’re entering. The session saw VfL Wolfsburg FIFA pro David Bytheway, Fnatic CEO Wouter Sleijffers and Sky Sports commentator Gary Taphouse discuss the topic, with the key takeaway being that there are far more rewarding opportunities for teams should they venture beyond the realms of just FIFA.

There’ll be plenty more in-depth insight for both those in and around esports at the ESI Super Forum, and any stakeholders from the sporting world who are considering making the leap, or indeed are already involved in the world of esports, should find it an exceptional opportunity to learn and make some strong contacts whilst doing so.

Sam Cooke, Editor-in-Chief at  Esports Insider, commented: “We received some great feedback from the ESI Forum Series, where we tackled topics including football clubs entering esports, the challenges and opportunities of esports betting, merchandise and apparel and a look at sponsorships more broadly.

“With the ESI Super Forum we’ll be building on this, and focusing the event on a key area which we feel has not been amply attended to in the esports conference space – that is the where traditional sports and esports meet.

“As with our Forum series, we’ll provide a place to educate people on both sides, generate some ideas and discussion, give all attendees plenty of networking time and ensure everyone has a fun day whilst doing so. In order to ensure this happens, we’ll have esports tournaments, food throughout the day, London’s best coffee and a tiptop official closing party to round it all off!”

Those attending Betting on Football 2018 will gain full access to the ESI Super Forum on Thursday March 22nd (10-6pm) and the shared after party (7.30pm till late). For those solely interested in the ESI Super Forum, you can head here for more information and to secure tickets.

Anyone with any questions about the event, or for those interested in sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, please contact Sam Cooke on sam@esportsinsider.

To get tickets and further information about the event, visit the website HERE.