The Gfinity Elite Draft and Elite Series is edging ever closer. It’s just a matter of days now before the pre-requisite, the Challenger Series shut and those that will be considered by the now confirmed eight professional organisations will wait for their chance to be picked up.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League and Street Fighter V comprise the eclectic mix of games that are set to be played. exceL eSports, Reason Gaming, Prophecy, Team Infused, Team Endpoint, Method, EnVyUs and Epsilon eSports are the eight teams that look set to battle it out to be the best in each title.
We spoke to Head of Partner Relations, Martin Wyatt to find out exactly what eager fans can expect from the upcoming spectacle.
Esports Insider: How much traction have you seen with the Challenger Series?
Martin Wyatt: If anything it’s exceeded expectations and the participation is growing steadily. We’ve been really, really pleased with the initial uptake in terms of participation and quite humbled by the level of support we’ve received from our publisher partners. That’s people like OMEN by HP and also the positive feedback we’ve experienced from the vast majority of the community.
ESI: Which of the three titles are you most excited about?
Martin: I couldn’t possibly choose. CS:GO is obviously such a well established esport that we’re bound to see some amazing action there. It’s incredibly exciting for us to be able to move into FGC for the first time and Street Fighter is a franchise that probably has one of the richest heritages in all of games, never mind just esports.
“We just can’t wait to reveal the next superstar SFV player – or maybe even the next CS:GO Major champions.”
We’ve also been doing some work with the Rocket League community for a while now. We’ve run some of the biggest cups and tournaments that exist in Europe so to be able to bring that to a live event and league programme like the Elite Series, it all just makes me beyond excited.
You’ll find me sat front and centre, every weekend lapping up the action – I can’t wait.
ESI: Tell us more about the Franchise championship? Is it like the F1 Constructors Championship?
Martin: It’s very similar to the way that the Constructor’s championship works in F1. The reason it’s there is that we want to ensure that the franchises and teams there are encouraging top performance across all of their teams and titles. Undoubtedly some of these franchises will be stronger in one game over another but we want to make sure that they’re fighting on all three fronts and promoting and supporting each player in each game. Undoubtedly they will be as they’re professional and competitive.
It’s cool from a story perspective. We’re going to be able to pick up and build some great rivalries between teams and players and the overarching structure of the Elite Series itself will be able to create some amazing talking points.
ESI: These guys that are joining Franchises are they buying in? How is the model built? How do teams enter/how are they chosen?
Martin: Teams were chosen for multiple reasons. We’ve tried to involve a blend of globally successful and well renowned organisations to well established UK organisations, some new and some older.
We’ve selected them to try and offer an opportunity to all and sundry, as well as you can do with eight spots in a league. Obviously there are people that are disappointed they weren’t involved. We have had to turn some people down and that’s never a nice thing to do but ultimately we’ve got a mix of teams that we think is exciting – for those players representing them or for those tuning in and becoming fans of them.
“We’re going to be able to pick up and build some great rivalries between teams and players and the overarching structure of the Elite Series itself will be able to create some amazing talking points.”
One of the things we really want to do is build a fanbase for these teams. Either build it if it doesn’t exist or help them grow it. The actual financial details and commercials will remain behind close doors for reasons I’m sure you understand but the way that the teams are involved it means that they get to benefit from loads of things that the league generates.
For example, it’s set to be very content rich and the exposure the league will get will mean a big bright spotlight will shine on these brands – and some of them for the first time. It will help them raise their profile and grow their organisations beyond the Elite Series and become successful in their own right as they should do. That’s one of the things the Elite Series is here to do – to support their growth and encourage it.
ESI: Many argue that content in esports is king. What are your plans for the Draft and beyond?
Martin: One of the things I think is undervalued in esports is the personalities that these guys have. The stories that some of these players have to tell is sensational and it’s something that we want to tap into. We want to build the profile of these players as people. It’s about unearthing the superstars, the controversial characters – as they exist in every sport and every walk of life. We want to be able to pick out the real interesting stories and tell them and we think that he way that the Elite Series works in the way that the seasons are structured and the fixtures work and the broadcast and content plan will be wrapped around it will bring to the fore a lot of those stories.
I think we’re going to be able to build some superstars. They’re undoubtedly out there. Again, one of the reasons the Elite Series was set up was to mine and tap into this really rich source and pool of talent that exists in the UK that may or may not have had the opportunity to showcase their talent before. That’s what we’re really really excited about, as well as the unbelievable game play and competition!
We just can’t wait to reveal the next superstar SFV player – or maybe even the next CS:GO Major champions.