Matthieu Dallon – Webedia Group – Little by little

Matthieu Dallon is one of the key players in European esports. He’s been the CEO of Toornament, the Founder of ESWC and the President of France Esports. Since September he’s become the Director of Strategy and Business Development of Webedia Group which acquired both Toornament and ESWC. 

Matthieu Dallon, Webedia Group
Matthieu Dallon, Webedia Group

As a part of the Esports BAR advisory board, an exclusive business focused event in Cannes in February (15-17) to which we’re an official media partner, we caught up with Matthieu for an end of year chat. 

Esports Insider: As the CEO of Toornament and the Founder of ESWC, how was the 2016 Paris Games Week in your opinion?

Matthieu: Paris Games Week 2016 gathered 310,000 visitors, which is a huge success and shows that it is growing year on year.

For the first time the Expo had an entire hall of 20,000m² dedicated to esports, where people could attend the ESWC, ESL tournaments, and many more stands designed with live esports content in one space. This included stages such as Twitch TV, HP, Acer, LDLC, Plantronics. As we’re now a part of the Webedia media group, it was the perfect occasion for us to introduce the PSG eSports team on the ESWC main stage.

For the first time we also had Clash Royale as an ESWC discipline, which raised a concurrent viewership of 130,000 on Twitch and Panda TV, and whose final has been live on sports channel SFR TV in France. The main stream media coverage was important on TV channels like TF1, M6, and Canal+.

Paris Games Week is now a strong consumer show, addressing all kind of gamers, with a significant history and legitimacy on esports.

“They have the strongest possible experience in B2B events production and they know exactly what young start-ups or SME need and how to accelerate their businesses.”

Esports Insider: Why did you choose to get involved as an advisor to the Esports BAR?

Matthieu: First I became an advisor to honour the invitation. I’ve known the Reed group for years and respect their professionalism.

It’s a great opportunity for the entire ecosystem, in France specifically, but obviously globally too to have that kind of player involved in the growing esports market. They have the strongest possible experience in B2B events production and they know exactly what young start-ups or SME need and how to accelerate their businesses.

I’ve also been seduced by their matchmaking concept. The Esports Bar will be very different compared to the multiple esports conferences we have seen popping up and taking place over the past two years.

Esports Insider: What should esports teams look for in non-endemic sponsors and partners?

Matthieu: No BS. Teams, like events, first look for money. With non-endemic sponsors often comes the promise of raising a larger budget, enabling the recipient to execute their more ambitious plans and address wider audiences.

But you’re right, the question of what should they look for is important. And, moreover, how should they design their offers to engage those non-endemic brands? I think they should work on building a sustainable relationship. The goal shouldn’t be ‘I will offer you more engaged millennials than your TV campaign’, but ‘I will create a legitimate place for your brand in a deep cultural movement’. And, like all good things, it takes time.

It’s a step by step approach where the art is to create and leverage links between core esports values and universal values, core esport codes and universal codes. What makes a brand is its history. Buying into esports shouldn’t be buying contacts. Twitch and Youtube do a great the job for that. Buying into esports is buying into history.

“The goal shouldn’t be ‘I will offer you more engaged millennials than your TV campaign’, but ‘I will create a legitimate place for your brand in a deep cultural movement’. And, like all good things, it takes time.”

Esports Insider: The FIFA aspect of ESWC was stepped up a gear this year, and the scene in general is showing growth and generating more and more interest. What does EA need to do to facilitate this continuing? Moreover, is the future of FIFA’s competitive scene 1v1 or something more…

Matthieu: To go straight to the point, I unfortunately don’t think EA plays a major role compared to the official body of FIFA itself.

I’m not in the confidential licensing agreements between those two giants (which are extremely complex in regards of the multiple interwoven rights of champions, clubs, stadiums…), but, from what I understand, it’s FIFA that has the universal mission of regulating the football practice, on a traditional field, as on Playstation or Xbox.

As rights owner, but moreover as football governing body, FIFA is structuring the esport aspect on its games as the traditional football has been structured over the last century. And in my opinion, it’s a mistake.

I do my best to defend and promote the esports model based on global communities, created and empowered by internet – without frontiers, with short seasons, and multiple international events. I also think 1v1 is one of the success factors of FIFA (the game) in esports. With that perspective, FIFA esports should more be designed like the ATP Tour than the World Cup. And EA must support the community initiatives and that model to be stronger and keep growing. 

Esports Insider: As the President of France Esports, what does this role generally entail? Were you involved in the formation of the e-ligue 1 for instance?

Matthieu: No, France eSports is not a sport governing body. It’s not a sport federation, because precisely no games are yet recognised as an official sport in France. But France eSports, as a non-profit organisation, is uniting all the major parties who make esports in France. From ESWC to ESL, the major associations, clubs, content creators to the game publishers, which is very significant.

Together, we promote and develop the idea of esports through concrete discussions with the government, and all national official institutions that need to be educated and shown this new culture and its potential in terms of education, economic development, and society’s digital transformation. And it works! We are a powerful lobby and we are changing laws, step by step.

If one day, games are recognised as sports in France, it will be a little thanks to us, and the work we accomplished together.

Disclaimer: We are a media partner of the Cannes BAR Esports event.

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