The Esports Roundtable: Tom Halls, Gfinity

In the most recent episode of esports podcast The Esports Roundtable, host Joe Hills discusses a wide range of topics with Tom Halls, Head of Strategic Development at Gfinity. The podcast covers a range of topics through from Tom’s passion as a gamer to his experience working across an array of big brands and his journey into esports. 

Thomas Halls
Tom Halls, Gfinity

Sports clubs are now extremely prevalent in esports, with well over 175 becoming involved and as a result – the landscape has changed significantly. Tom opens up about his experience at companies such as Coca Cola, EA  and the Lawn Tennis Association before his move to Formula E, NRG and now Gfinity

He discusses American organisations willingness to embrace a traditional sports system such as the likes of the Overwatch League as well as the unique IP that Gfinity has developed in the Challenger Series journey to Elite Series. 

Most recently, Gfinity has swapped Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for FIFA in the Elite Series with CS:GO moving to a standalone series backed by CEVO. Hills and Halls discuss the criticisms of FIFA as an esport and also the easy entry point for sports organisations through sport simulation. 

When discussing the overarching topic of traditional sports entering the space, Tom Halls commented: “The focus on esports from traditional sports leagues and organizations should be welcomed at this stage, frankly. The esports industry has come a huge way in the last few years, but we can still learn a lot from traditional sports; better protection of teams and players from a  contractual perspective, more effective use of sponsorship inventory and creation of content outside of the usual gameplay-analysis-host process. 

He continued: “It’s our job as an industry to educate those less knowledgable and new to the space without being overly dismissive of them – traditional sports can learn a huge amount from us as well in terms of engaging fans, new consumption methods and how to ensure the next generation of entertainment consumers are best served.”

He shared additional thoughts on simulation titles as esports and the perception esports consumers tend to share around the game titles: “It’s easy for the hardcore esports fan to look down their nose at some of the sports simulation titles securing investment at the moment, but once you understand that their expectations and goals are different from a League of Legends or CSGO it’s quite understandable as to why they want to enter the space. 

He concluded: “Many sporting organizations are using esports, or more accurately, competitive gaming, to drive new levels of engagement with their brands and IP; increasing their marketing inventory and finding new ways to keep fans interested for longer. They don’t expect huge viewership like the core titles, but they access a wider, younger fan base than they do with their traditional marketing.”

Joe Hills, LFG and The Esports Roundtable
Joe Hills, Founder and Host of the Roundtable podcast commented on this episode:  “It’s always insightful to discuss the industry with someone who has made the hard transition from sport to esport and been successful. Being as eloquent as Tom is, we are really happy with how this episode turned out and believe he had a lot of interesting points to make especially when under fire from my criticism of FIFA as an esports”
Hills is the Founder of Looking for Group, an esports executive recruitment company and has worked to achieve placements for many high profile individuals in the burgeoning esports industry.