The Professional Esports Association has been quiet since being thrust into the spotlight at the beginning of 2017. The organization was at the center of a controversy that pitted it against some of the most prominent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players in North America.
Since then, the PEA website has been seldom updated and the organization’s social media accounts have rarely been active. Which begs the question: is the PEA still around?
Esports Network reached out to the PEA, and spokesperson Andy Miller sat down with us for an interview about the situation. You can read the full transcript below.
Esports Network: What is the current status of the PEA?
Miller: So I’m the owner and CEO of NRG eSports. And we’re one of the original founding teams in NA for PEA. We’ve been pretty busy, we’ve been probably… as busy as we’ve ever been.
We’ve added new members, which has already been publicized. We’ve really added a lot of professionalism to the group. We have other members, other teams, like CLG for example, who have new owners like MSG. And they’ve brought their executives into our organization as well. So the level of discourse and conversation and opportunities that now we’re looking at, and the type of projects that we’re getting involved in, I think are really becoming sophisticated and hopefully important.
So that’s been a great development over the last year for sure.
In February 2017 it was announced that Jason Katz and additional staff were “relieved” of their positions. Could you tell us more about that situation?
I think it’s a pretty publicized. Jason helped lead our efforts to create our own CS:GO league for North America, and that didn’t pan out. So we kind of moved away from doing that and creating our own thing. And that was Jason’s main interest so we parted ways and sort of regrouped, added some new folks, new teams into the mix and have been spending more of our efforts working directly with publishers on a number of opportunities and brands as well.
Is the PEA primarily focused on North American leagues and North American esports, or are you looking to do more international stuff as well?
Well, the group is all North American-based orgs, right now. Although most of us have some teams in other regions as well. Like NRG’s Smite team is from the EU, etc.
We want to represent all of our teams but we have been focusing on bringing kind of our marketing and fan base, which is mainly North American, to brands and publishers.
Have these roles (and that of the commissioner) since been permanently filled?
No, we don’t have a commissioner since we’re not really doing a league, it’s kind of not the right role. We do have a bunch of new folks who are involved. Almost every team involved has had some type of acquisition or significant investment, and we have lots of new brains around the table which is wonderful. And new committees involvement externally. So it is definitely a new look for us.
Does that mean going forward, a league is not really something that’s on the cards for 2018?
We’ve no plans to launch our own league. We’re definitely talking with a number of publishers about helping them launch their esports leagues.
Can you tell us about PEA’s plans or goals for 2018?
I think that’s a big one. [There’s a] number of opportunities with great games that have really significant viewership that now want to transition into esports, and we think we have a great way to help them, especially in North America with our kind of instant fanbase and professional organizations. So we’ve been doing a lot of work there. We’ve also been helping publishers think about esports in their game development. So that’s been a focus as well. And it’s been a number of brands that we’ve talked with and are doing some work with in helping them get their foot in the door, if you will. Or how to activate with esports.
So it kind of sounds like the PEA has taken on a more consulting role in the space, is that right?
It’s not the main focus. I would say we are being consultative, if that’s the right word, because that’s the step you need to take. Because esports has become really significant obviously there’s a giant audience out there. The teams that comprise PEA have a big audience in North America and a lot of experience.
So if you’re a publisher who wants to figure out the right way or not to get involved with esports, we’re great people to talk to and give our perspectives and to help formulate plans. And those plans are starting to come to fruition in the form of hopefully some announcements this year, hopefully in North America. And world leagues with a North American component to it, for publishers.
How big is the core team that comprises the PEA now?
We’re pretty big. We meet every week, everybody, every Thursday. We’ve limited the number of folks on it just because there’s a lot of people involved now… but I would say that it’s more like a traditional sports team breakdown between the committees from the marketing committee and tech committee and you name it. So it’s kind of a big collaborative effort.
So are we looking at maybe 10-15 people, or is it a team of 30?
There’s definitely around 30 people but our calls are usually 15.
Sounds like a big group.
Yeah it is a big group. But it’s been amazing. We’re a tight microcosm of seeing how esports has evolved so much in the last couple of years. But since we’ve started this thing there’s been such investment in the space, and acquisition, and we have venture capitalist folks involved, and we have traditional sports involved, we have pure marketers involved now, we have event folks like MSG involved now and sitting around the table we have people who work with publishers involved, we have folks who used to work at Riot or Twitch. So it’s a lot of brains around the table, a lot of perspective. And I think we’ve grown up very quickly and we have a lot to offer now.
Is CS:GO going to sit on the back burner for a bit?
Yes. Exactly that’s the one thing that we’re not talking much about. There’s a lot of other things to do. CS:GO is so complicated, we gave it a good effort, we made a lot of mistakes, we brought a lot of interesting things to the table which are starting to find their way a little bit into the different leagues. But CS:GO is a complicated [business] with a lot of offerings. Not all of us have teams anymore in that space and it’s something that we thought was too hard to do right now.
Are you able to talk specifically about what games you’re looking at?
Not yet, no.
What are the long-term goals of the PEA?
Depends on whose perspective. So from an outwards perspective the long term goals are really to help push forward the esports scene in North America to be involved in the creation of a bunch of leagues. And help publishers market their game and create great player, fan, and brand experiences with their titles. It’s also an organization for teams to talk to each other and to help us monetize our fanbases of which has a long way to go there. And create some stability in the scene for orgs.
What is your official title in the PEA?
I don’t think I have one. I think I’m the… NRG Esports representative, board of governor, I don’t know if we have official titles, it was pretty linear.
We’re not that external from the website perspective but we’re actually pretty active. We’ve got folks who actually have been consultants for publishers before so it helped us professionalize and figure out what our value proposition is for publishers. That part’s been great. We’ve been extremely busy, and hopefully we’ll have some things to announce in the next couple of months.