I sat down with Christina Alejandre, ELEAGUE General Manager and Vice President of Turner’s esports department, to discuss how Turner came into the esports scene.
Would you mind stating your name and what your function in ELEAGUE is?
Christina: Yeah, My name’s Christina Alejandre, and I’m the General Manager of ELEAGUE and Vice President of Esports at Turner Sports.
What does that involve day-to-day?
Christina: So specifically for ELEAGUE, we are partnered with WME-IMG in a joint venture around ELEAGUE, and WME-IMG are tasked with the live event audience experience and audience experience. On my side, my team is in charge of business operations, marketing, social media, PR, and all of the production.
What is your history in gaming and Counter-Strike specifically, before you ran television broadcast?
Christina: I’ve been in the video game industry for 17 years. It has been the only industry I’ve ever worked in. About five years ago, I started getting into esports when I worked for Warner Brothers Games and we had a game called Infinite Crisis. It was a MOBA, a DC Comics based MOBA., and it had some esports elements. So I oversaw publishing and esports for that and really drove into the space. I’ve been very involved in esports ever since. I’ve done everything from running events to going to conventions and running activations to doing tournaments online, creating content, all that stuff. After Infinite Crisis didn’t do well, I actually went over to ESL and consulted for about six months over there, and then, I came over to Turner. As far as my involvement in Counter-Strike, I haven’t been involved in the Counter-Strike space prior to me starting at Turner. I’ve watched Counter-Strike, I’m a big fan of Counter-Strike, but I wasn’t part of that esport’s space until I started here.
Integrity seems to be an important part of ELEAGUE’s vision, so what separates your view of that compared to other industry leaders within the esports space?
Christina: We really pride ourselves on our tournament operations and tournament integrity, we consult in all parties within WME-IMG and Turner to make sure we have the best in-class experience for our players and for our audience, and so a lot of it is built off tournament integrity because if you don’t have integrity when you’re involved in a tournament then you might as well not be throwing the tournament.
Turner seems to have turned to esports as an alternative to conventional sports. What is Turner’s vision with esports and the future comparing that to conventional sports?
Christina: For me, when I first started at Turner I was worried, but optimistic. I was a little cautious that esports would be treated as a side project that they’re just experimenting with because Turner sports itself has the NBA, NCAA, and PGA, and I was like ‘I hope esports fits,’ and the great thing about it is that they have treated esports as any other vertical within the Turner Sports league. You have Emmy award winning producers and directors involved in the production, so Turner is all-in on esports and they are very, very bold. We really want to establish Friday nights at 10 p.m. on TBS as that slot for esports, but we also understand that we have to be cross-platform because the viewers are going to watch how and when they want to watch. We will always be a digital product first with a linear extension so to speak, but we are finding new ways to create content to gather tournaments that are esports focused.
Has ELEAGUE ever considered hosting events outside of Atlanta in other countries or elsewhere within the United States?
Christina: Absolutely, that is something that we are definitely exploring, and depending on what other events that we have, maybe, we will move it out of Atlanta. It just depends on timing and what the event is. We’ll do what’s right for the product.
What is ELEAGUE doing behind the scenes that would be impressive compared to the rest of the esports industry?
Christina: I think that Turner Sports, from a production level, have been doing sports production for a really long time and have won a bajillion of Emmys for it, but we are only as good as our last show. We have a standard and a level that we always need to meet. That comes from the top down; Craig Berry, who is also here, has led this team and is in charge of all production. We are only as good as our last show, so we’re always finding new ways to improve and evolve. What we have up our sleeves is a myriad of things, but I think the biggest card up our sleeve is the fact that we are Turner Sports and we have been doing sports production for such a long time that we can translate those practices to esports relatively easily.
For more interviews and ELEAGUE Major content, follow me on Twitter @Bleda412. An interview with Scott “SirScoots” Smith will be coming out soon.
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