Thank you for taking out the time to chat with us, Simon. While OpTic needs no introduction, please tell our readers a little about your background and association with OpTic.
Hello! So I started working for Infinite Esports & Entertainment late last year and my position is VP of Marketing. I look after all of the promotion and marketing for all teams and brands under Infinite's umbrella of which one of the most notable is OpTic gaming. I have been working in the gaming industry for over 12 years now and I began my career working for Blizzard entertainment just as SCII was taking off big time, I was a huge fan of esports long before that but this was the first time I was able to be paid to help build an amazing title. I stayed at Blizzard for quite a few years until I had the opportunity to lead the EU esports team for Wargaming.net. My instruction on the first day was "Do esports" and for a game like World of Tanks.. that was a hell of a challenge lol. That being said I had a great time there and we built an awesome team and even got WoT to IEM Katowice (where shamefully I casted - never again). I moved a few years later to work at Razer as their sponsorships, event and marketing director and then a few years after that to FACEIT.com to lead their partnerships and marketing team. After FACEIT I decided to go it alone and build my own company that specialises in advising publishers and sponsors on esports investments which I still run today but also quickly found my way into Infinite where my first projects were the league of legends pitch and to lead the talented team that designed and built the Houston Outlaws brand.
We are extremely excited about your big announcement! Walk us through the logic and reasons behind picking India for this expansion.
OpTic gaming is, and forever will be, one of the most influential esports brands in the Industry and we are incredibly passionate about building and supporting the growth of Esports. India as a region has been rapidly growing in this scene and OpTic also has a huge number of Indian fans across the world. After meeting the people at AFK, SoStronk and LXG we felt like this was the perfect time to really throw our weight into helping a new region grow and flourish in esports and having the OpTic brand behind it should help an even more rapid growth in an exciting new space.
Talking a bit more about the scouting process. Could you explain what is going to happen once the candidates have filled the initial form?
The candidates are shortlisted for the LAN event after the initial screening where they will undergo an intense and detailed testing process of both theory and practicals. The LAN will be held at the LXG India facility that provides some of the best location support for budding professional players.
Given that esports is estimated to be a $3 billion industry in India in the next half a decade, what, apart from the Optic India squad, are your plans to grow and develop the Indian esports ecosystem? Can we expect OpTic Gaming India for other esports titles as well?
For now we are focused on helping grow the environment around CS:GO specifically, we believe that we can bring structure and a general player support that could be replicated with many other teams so no immediate design to step into other games yet. Moving forward we obviously always have our eyes and ears open and we hope to be on the leading edge of India esports, helping local teams, businesses and other international brands to build on the potential that India has.
As I understand, OpTic is considering multiple countries for the OpTic Gaming regional squads. Does that mean we might see the first Asian super team come up under the OpTic Nation banner?
Who knows what the future holds for Asia, It is very clear that the future is bright and I personally would love to see an Asian super team take the world by storm, be it OpTic gaming or a local team we help to gain visibility (Hopefully OpTic)
Speaking of OpTic Nation, Optic's rise to fame came hand-in-hand with a stellar content program spearheaded by Hecz and Nadeshot. Are you guys planning on replicating that model for India with local content creators, given the rise of gaming related media, especially on YouTube in the past few years?
At the moment we are focused on the team and helping them develop, we are really excited to see how this new trial system works out as I feel like SoStronk have really helped us build a revolutionary way of selecting players. When it comes to content, you can't force talent like that of H3CZ or Nadeshot but I do hope we can find some local stars that exude the same charisma and personality that those guys do. OpTic has a very specific way of communication and we will be on the lookout for personalities that fit our specific and exacting brand expectations, AFK is going to be an integral partner in helping with this and we have a lot of faith in them.
A very common question that we are fielded is "What choices do we have if we want to become a part of the esports industry?" Would you like to share some insights from your own experiences and help guide the community towards crucial roles that an organization needs other than player, manager or coach? Are there going to be any openings for these roles in India?
People hate likening esports to business but when it comes to job roles in esports there are direct similarities to the "real world". You can use many, if not all, skills you learn in corporate jobs for esports but the most important thing I look for is the "hunger", hunger in esports comes from working your butt off to achieve you goal with thousands of others trying to fight for the same spot. Esports is still so relatively fresh and new so there is so many opportunities to take if you just work hard enough. I actually originally trained as a science teacher and by accident fell into gaming before it really was anything like it is today, but once I got my teeth in I worked like mad to move up and learn new things from anyone I could. India will have so many great opportunities in the next few years that you should just get yourself out there, try casting, try events, helping sell sponsorships, being an admin. I am actually super jealous of those young people who will get to help shape the future of India esports.
What according to you would be the trajectory of the Optic India team? For instance, do you see them playing at Majors and other big-ticket tournament in the space of the next 2 odd years, or are you guys looking at a more condensed timeline?
We are always looking for excellence, our teams are expected to win and so we will expect this team to win obviously :). In my ideal world a huge success would see OpTic core team taking on a talented young Indian player within the next few years and them becoming a global superstar. This would prove that India can throw down with the best and should open the flood gates to many top tier players coming out of the region.
Lastly, any words of wisdom for our readers, to help them channel their passion for gaming in a more focused and constructive manner?
I would say that you should always be proud of being a nerd. Gaming isn't the stuffy thing that many people still feel it is and it most definitely is a viable career, whether you are a player, coach, business owner or just a super fan. Fight to keep that hunger for the thing you love and work your butt off to get it. OpTic India is just the beginning of a gaming revolution in India!
This interview was conducted by Archishman 'FeTT' Pradhan. Follow him on twitter @archeeseman