«We have invested in the eSports arena more than 10 million dollars»

© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich in photosangelina in the computer club eSports arena Arena Yota in Moscow. 19 may 2017«We have invested in the eSports arena more than 10 million dollars»© RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich the image Bank

The nineteenth of may in Moscow officially opened the world’s largest eSports arena. Today on the planet she is without parallel: it is not only the huge stage and screen, but also a restaurant, VR-bar, a karaoke room and a store eSports of goods and merchandise. Managing partner ESforce Anton Cherepennikov in an interview spoke about how the organization came to the idea of building the arena, the development of the concept, as well as the volume of investment in the project.

— In the world today e — sports is already quite intuitive phenomenon: in South Korea or China, this does not surprise anyone, in the United States today is a large-scale trend which are actively investing. In Russia began to actively discuss eSports about a year ago: and now, if we talk about Dota 2 and millions of dollars, people are ready to faint.
E-sports began to develop actively, when did Twitch: business representatives saw that on the broadcasts of the matches going audience in the hundreds of thousands of people at a time more than many traditional sports. Last year, when we held the tournament Epicenter, where several thousand people watched the matches from the audience, representatives of business looking at this show and already nodded understandingly, «Yes, here it is clear to us».

In order to make it easier to show and explain to people what e-sports needed something fixed: the place where you can meet the players and watch the matches. Twenty years ago, began a rapid withdrawal to digital, even now stores, for example, first open the Internet and then offline, and then not always. But in terms of promoting eSports we needed that physical presence.

Yes, we host two major tournaments a year, but we have local leagues: we are interested to develop the Cup of Russia, student and school League, and where to hold them? Given that we are very picky about Internet speeds, equipment and the environment, renting some sites, huge logistics equipment and install it it’s too expensive.

All this logically led to the emergence of a stationary platform. I’ve decided to build, because it was not clear how to monetize it. When tournaments are held, then everything is obvious: we have a lot of fans, and the format of the computer club a long time exhausted. We tried to make a transformer: the whole arena is divided into zones. Here you can not only watch the matches, but just to gather with friends, sing karaoke, play Board games. Day — Yes, the arena mainly functions as a computer club. However in the evening it can be a great venue for any event.

We must understand that the Russian e-sports lives not only three or four main disciplines: we have a large community for example, Minecraft and World of Wacraft. It may not be eSports, but such people are also interested to gather. Now they can sit in some obscure coffee shop or bar, but now they have a specialized place where their interests are clear, where there is enough space, where there are all of these games. Whether in conventional «chocolate» to play Board games? Unlikely. Yes, and the meeting of the clan from World of Warcraft, not every cafe will fit. Drink beer anywhere, but that while you have included a stream of your favorite games on the big screen this is nowhere, only here. So in the evening is the entertainment area, and day training center for athletes.

— Who was consulted during the construction? For example, in the US there are already several similar arenas.

— Our dedicated eSports arena to date, unique. In the world there is a small arena, but it’s more like a miniature stedionica with plastic chairs. Neither this format nor this level arenas in the world yet.

— Then reverse the question and wondering whether foreign experts to the construction Yota Arena?

— To build the arena it’s certainly a challenge, it’s hard, but you still have to make the audience happy. We made quite reasonable prices, to solve the main problem: if the person is not the most secure, he doesn’t have to go to the basement and there in an unventilated room to play. He should be able to eat for good money, play and chat with friends in a comfortable room. If we succeed to create this atmosphere, and the project will be commercially successful, then to me it is already possible to consult. And yet no one even dares to invest in such projects financial investments too large.

On the other hand, in sport it is the Western countries usually ask standards: the stadium is not just the podium with a couple of cafes; it is an object of the entertainment industry with dozens of food outlets and other commercial outlets. How is it that Russia has built an eSports arena, the first, and in the West this still going?

— Now in Las Vegas building the first arena that is similar to what we did. It’s all about that eSports has become a trend a couple of years ago, investment has started only to come to the market. Investors need to make predictions about the market and why it is profitable. It’s a long process.

— How?

— From the point of view, from the point of view of revenue, we are still far away. I think that if we compare one fan of e-sports with a football fan, then the revenue from tickets, merch and other things we haven monetized worse than the average ten times. Not because there is no money from fans, this is a misconception, just the tools for sale. A couple of years ago as was made of the content? People sat at home and recorded a video on webcam. Professional merchandise began to appear just now.

© Photo : EPICENTERАнтон Cherepennikov and Tina Kandelaki at the opening ceremony of EPICENTER: CSGO«We have invested in the eSports arena more than 10 million dollars»© Photo : EPICENTERАнтон Cherepennikov and Tina Kandelaki at the opening ceremony of EPICENTER: CSGO

— Do ESforce plans to build arenas in other cities of Russia?

— First you have to see how it would work in Moscow, to understand whether the concept we chose, how it is working. There is no way that the first time everything was perfect. We tried very hard, but I still believe that any comments from players would do. Second it is necessary to understand how well we have built the commercial component, as correctly predicted and planned. After that, you can think about the future of construction.

Over the last few years, with the advent of USM investment Holdings, ESforce increased significantly in all directions: all the Virtus.pro is among the strongest in the world, was able to successfully restart the website, to make a good Studio broadcasts, now open arena. What the next step will take the company?

— I have a specific strategy for entering other markets: we understand how to work with Europe and the CIS, but you need to learn how to work with China and the US monetization project. Also is a lot of work on structuring work as in so much else, we are the pioneers. All focused either on teams or in tournaments, or in the media we are building a full ecosystem, which still need to debug.

The first investments came to us just over a year ago. The construction of the arena we also took a little more than a year it was also a big challenge for organizations. And the first tournament Epicenter we held in may 2016, although the budget was approved only in January. Many people are not sleeping nights. I can say with certainty — in this area employs those who love their work.