Two years later: The Reign enters a new dynasty

Two years after the Roanoke Reign, formally known as Virtue Gaming, was founded, CEO Brent Beckner reflects on the growth of his organization, taking a different approach to success in the community.

Image via LoL Esports

Sometimes, the success of any organization is not how many awards it gets, but how well it leaves a positive impact on the scene.

Brent J. Beckner, CEO of the Roanoke Reign, believes in that, and continues to show that with his esports organization, who celebrates its two year anniversary at the time of writing.

The name may not look too familiar, as the organization started on Feb. 18, 2015 under Virtue Gaming, but it still preaches the tenets of putting the community first in its operations. And that starts with the local community, which is Roanoke, Virginia for Beckner.

When Beckner gave the Reign redesign the green light, he figured it would take a month to complete, with a color scheme where “every one of those colors had to do with Roanoke.” However, when they received their new branding just eight hours later, it “completely blew away all expectations.”

It’s a bit ironic, as Beckner believes it aligns with how much his organization has accomplished in such a short time.

“We may not have major championships under our belt,” Beckner said. “But just the professionalism and the integrity we’ve been able to bring to the scene, as well as how much charity work we’ve been able to do, and making it a possibility for players to go out and compete so they can have their dream of being a professional player come close to a reality… I’d like to think that across the board, we’ve had a pretty decent impact.”

Beckner’s history in competitive gaming started in competitive Halo, then into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, before he took a break from the scene in 2010 to handle his college education. He then took a five year absence before founding his organization.

The change to incorporate Roanoke, the town where the organization was based out of, was an easy answer. The change to Reign though? Not so much.

“Honestly, it’s hard to say,” he laughed. “An FPL team that we once had something to do with Reign, and while I forget what it was, I remember saying ‘Hey, I like that name.’ Originally we were thinking Reign Gaming or Reign Esports, but then we thought, ‘Why not the Roanoke Reign?'”

The decision to add a hometown to an organization’s title is an uncommon sight in esports, with only a handful of teams, like the Detroit Renegades, having a town or city to represent. Even the proposed Overwatch League, with plans to have teams in major cities, is considered “groundbreaking” for its decision to add hometowns.

Beckner realized that it’s a bit of a rarity, however he believes that representing where you came from is a must for esports.

“I wouldn’t say that every organization should re-brand to their local community,” Beckner said. “My mindset behind it is that with how much it is growing, you still need to represent where you came from no matter how much you grow or how much the scene grows.”

At the time of writing, the Roanoke Reign has put on its website that it gave over $3,000 to charity organizations during its two-year history. Beckner said that it all goes back to his personal experience, especially working with the March of Dimes, a nonprofit whose goal is to improve the health of expectant mothers and children.

“It’s near and dear to my heart as a father to a child who spent an extensive time in a neonatal intensive care unit that I support the March of Dimes,” Beckner said. “I look to hopefully do some really big charity work with them this year, locally and streaming services.”

So what’s next for his organization? Beckner is simple in what his expectations are.

“We want to see growth,” said Beckner. “We want to see growth with players in their character, maturity, and just their overall being.”

And even though he’d like to see better placements and titles, Beckner said that it all goes back to why he founded his organization in the first place, and “what sets us apart from other organizations.”

In terms of the next teams to represent the Reign though, Beckner is open to any options on the table.

“We’re definitely looking to get into the Halo scene and the HCS, as well as a FPL Halo team,” Beckner said. “We debated going back into Call of Duty, because we released our team when we rebranded. The biggest change that I want to see from 2016 to 2017 though is how much we do with the community, how much we can give back into the community, be proactive, and work with charity.”

At the moment, there is a Roanoke Reign team signed up for the FPL Call of Duty qualifier, and Beckner plans to have charity streams and other community events throughout 2017.


James Mattone