Esports BAR returns to Miami, Florida for its second year on September 24th. The event's organizers expect 300 esports professionals from 40 countries to attend.
Esports BAR is primarily designed to connect businesses from in and outside the games industry through one-to-one meetings.
Preceding these meetings will be a day dedicated to Esports BAR's new initiative: The Forum. The Forum comes as the result of feedback from the previous Esports BAR events in Cannes and Miami, where companies outside of esports such as brands, media, and those just starting their esports initiatives, can connect with experienced esports figures in a "discussion-focused setting".
"People were looking for an opportunity on top of the one-to-one meetings to really talk to industry leaders and understand how the esports industry works," says Stéphane Gambetta, the development director at Reed Midem's entertainment division, which runs Esports BAR. "Specifically, questions like: How do you associate a brand to a league or a team? How do you create good esports content for media? How do you reach an esports audience? How do you work with investors? How do you work with specific territories, such as Asia, or Latin America?
"This is why we're proposing a full day to answer those questions. We'll have a strong program of keynotes from high-level influencers. But also more than half of the program is conceived in the mentoring format, both in roundtable workshops and one-to-one sessions with mentors. The goal is to really enable people to have in-depth discussions, get insight about how to work in the esports industry, and the opportunity to ask questions about how to be effective, how to build relationships, and how to grow internationally."
Those keynote speakers are Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer, Riot Games' North America head of esports Chris Hopper, NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue, EA Sports FIFA competitive gaming commissioner Brent Koning, Misfits Gaming and Florida Mayhem CEO Ben Spoont, Major League Soccer senior director James Ruth, Alibaba Group global esports director Jason Fung, and ESL Brazil CEO Leo De Biase.
Gambetta says the roster of keynotes focuses on a few key, timely angles. Several of the speakers have worked on establishing strong esports leagues recently, with Nanzer in particular able to speak to the recent success of Overwatch League as a global esports endeavor. Other leaders, such as Donohure and Ruth, are able to speak to the connections between traditional sports and esports. Finally, Fung and De Biase round out the panel as experts on the Asian and Brazillian esports markets, respectively, to give their international perspectives.
Alongside the keynotes, the BAR's line-up also includes twelve "mentors" who will be available to assist those who attend the first day of the BAR in strengthing their esports industry expertise, with leaders such as Ubisoft's head of esports Robb Chiarini, Team Dignitas director of fan engagement Heather 'Sapphire' Garozzo, and Fnatic CEO Wouter Sleijffers.
The mentors are there to answer those questions Gambetta mentioned before, and will be there to respond to practical questions asked by those who attend. The idea, Gambetta says, is to ensure those in mentoring positions can answer questions both about new developments in esports and the common growth questions that participants are likely to ask.
Though the BAR's two days of one-to-one meetings are closed, The Forum is still open for participants.
"The Forum is two-sided," he says. "One is a grassroots company, looking to grow its business. One that might say, 'I'm already important regionally, and I really want some advice on how to effectively grow my business into esports in the next 2-3 years.' This is for them. The other audience that can get benefits from this program is people who are looking to build a strategy to enter esports. They are not yet into esports. They want to understand the sector better. They want key advice, key insights on how to do that, what's working, what's not - this is for them, too."
It shouldn't come as a shock that Gambetta is convinced esports can become a major entertainment sector - even the future of entertainment - though he acknowledges it will take some growing to get there.
"One of the obstacles of getting into esports is engaging effectively with big companies," Gambetta says. "We have one foot into esports, and we have all these people who are building esports at Esports BAR. On the other side we bring these big companies, media, and consumer brands. This will only help bring esports to new audiences, reach new fans, and improve the sector. We are trying to help be the bridge, or the translators, because big consumer brands don't always speak the same language as, say an esports team. We help them understand what the other is looking for, and help them work together and understand needs from both sides.
"Our main objective is to be helpful, to be really relevant in terms of who we bring and the topics we address, and to help the sector grow and engage new audiences."
Gamesindustry.biz is a media partner to Esports BAR, which is run by our parent company Reed Midem.