Turner has hired Christina Alejandre as vice president and general manager of ELEAGUE, while Min-Sik Ko will serve as commissioner.
Alejandre has more than 15 years of experience in the games industry and new media, having worked with Turbine and Warner Bros. Games before working with ESL as a consultant. The new commissioner, Ko, has a strong esports background. Starting as a team manager in Warcraft 3 for World Elite and Ninjas in Pyjamas, Ko held a senior management role at SK Gaming before founding Global Esports Management with Tobias Sherman. GEM was purchased last January by WME | IMG, one of the biggest talent agencies in the world.
ELEAGUE’s two season, $2.4 million total prizepool makes it the biggest Counter-Strike league ever. When the league is finally broadcast on TBS, it will represent only the second time in a decade that a version of the game has been broadcast on television. In 2007, DirecTV famously included Counter-Strike: Source as part of its Championship Gaming Series, a league that ultimately failed. That failure was largely blamed on the company’s bullheaded resistance to cater to the audience and its attempt to shoehorn esports competitions into a slick, 30-minute TV product.
From the beginning, however, Turner has shown no interest in repeating those mistakes. It’s brought in industry leaders for consultation and developing a product that caters to the esports audience, taking the existing infrastructure of the Counter-Strike scene and enhancing it with television expertise. For every appearance by Shaquille O’Neal to announce the league, broadcast talents that fans know and love like Duncan “Thorin” Shields and Anders Blume are the ones taking centre stage.
Crucially, they are also not taking the competition away from where the fans are—on Twitch. Each week of play will see games broadcast Tuesday through Friday on Twitch, with the Friday three hour broadcast also airing on TBS simultaneously.
The lineup for the league is far from concrete at this point. Optic Gaming won a qualifier in January to book their spot, with teams like Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, and Renegades announced as participating. But fans are waiting with baited breath for some solid news on whether the game’s top teams will be involved.
Image via Paddymazz | Remix by Jacob Wolf