Our final interview at the Call of Duty Championship last week was with none other than the MLG co-founder himself, Mike Sepso. Starting from humble beginnings, the MLG has evolved over the years, yet Sepso remained down to earth, eager to talk about the future of esports as an entity and the direction that it was heading in.
So far, this a global event that is happening with 32 sides from around the world competing. Can we expect to seem even more nations in the future?
I think that is just the start. This is the culmination of years of work, on behalf of Treyarch and Activision to grow esports and MLG happened to be here. The great thing now about esports is that video games are now very early in their development of these esports, but it can only grow upwards from this point.
Ten years ago, you had to film events on VHS and transfer it online. Obviously, the technology has changed since then, so what would you like to see in the next ten years of technology and how events such as this are broadcast?
I think the interesting thing with esports is the core demographic with our audience, who are part of the media revolution in general, such as streaming media online versus traditional television. And that, the trend there generally is that that part of the world is getting more specific, so I think we’ll be seeing more broadcast capabilities, wider distribution capabilities and esports from a a viewership standpoint will be huge.
And what we do at MLG, is try and compare ourselves all the time to the traditional professional sports, such as the NFL and the NHL. And I think the next big evolution is that of a permanent arena, getting more fanbases built around the teams and the players and that kind of thing.
Are championships like this, where more effort is put into making it on par with professional sports, also helping to make the competitors who are here into more professional athletes?
Oh yeah. When I think about esports, most of the players right from the beginning, are pretty mature about how they behave and respond to the media and sponsors. Even though they’re competing for lots of money and they want to beat each other as badly as possible, there’s a lot of sportsmanship in esports.
Because we’re all here, just making this thing work.
But they can be professional and still have that gaming attitude at the same time, giving sportsmen from epsorts a signature style not found in other sports, right?
Look, esports is an activity and certainly, action sports have their own verbage and culture, and gamers have their own strong culture already. And that’s not going to go away. But I think that’s what makes it interesting, what makes it appealing for people to learn about.
And I think that’s what people misunderstand about gamers. It’s a very strong lifestyle and culture that propels these guys to do what they do, and it’s just part of the whole experience.
Right now the event is being streamed over the web and on Xbox, but what about putting butts in seats for more Call of Duty events such as this?
We’re still in the early stages of figuring out what the spectator experience is, what the right season structure is, but we’re all working together with Treyarch, Microsoft, MLG and the other global leads and partnering to make this happen.
This particular event has a really awesome small aspect here, but one that is really focused on making an amazing broadcast, which we’re doing. MLG events in Dallas, which were qualifiers to get American teams here, had 15 000 people live, so we have a mix of different kinds of things.
So with the next Black Ops 2 tournament in Anaheim, we’ll have a huge live audience there as well. We’re still kind of playing around with the formula, we don’t have huge stadiums that have been built for us, it’s not football, it’s not the NBA and it’s not there yet, but we have to keep playing around with things to make this better for us and gamers.