Why Golden Guardians decided to take a bet on WoW esports

“It was on my shortlist of under-appreciated titles."

Image via Golden Guardians

World of Warcraft is one of the most iconic titles in the history of gaming. Over the past 15 years, just about anyone who considers themself a “gamer” has either played the title for a period of time or has friends who have.

While WoW’s player base isn’t as sizable as it’s been in the past, the massively multiplayer online game’s history makes it one of the most unique titles in esports—and Golden Guardians are looking to cash in on that.

Golden Guardians has signed two different WoW esports teams in the past month, filling out a competitive roster that could rival just about any other squad out there.

Last month, the team added one of the top-10 raiding guilds in the world to its organization by bringing on Big Dumb Guild. And this past week, Golden Guardians brought in Method’s former North American Mythic Dungeon International squad.

The two groups that compete in separate WoW PvE esports join the organization’s PvP Arena World Championship team, formerly known as The Move, which has been with Golden Guardians since December.

While WoW might not be the force that it once was in gaming, Golden Guardians’ head of esports Hunter Leigh said he’s been considering the title’s potential since before Method broke the mold by broadcasting Race to World First events starting in the fall of 2018.

“People are so focused on what WoW isn’t anymore that they’re not really focused on what WoW is,” Leigh told Dot Esports. “It was on my shortlist of under-appreciated titles that, when we did expand, there were some rich opportunities.”

Leigh said that after the organization signed a PvP team, a number of guilds and teams reached out to them about joining the organization. And while he didn’t disclose what other teams contacted them, Big Dumb Guild was among them. Within six months, the organization announced that it was partnering with the guild as it expanded its presence in WoW esports.

Prior to adding WoW players, Golden Guardians primarily competed in League of Legends. But the org has since expanded into Apex Legends, Teamfight Tactics, and fighting games as well.

Though investing in a game like WoW that has multiple different esports competitions inside it might be a cause for concern to some organizations, Leigh sees it as a stronger opportunity for growth.

“That’s the strength of WoW esports right now is that there are all these different things for fans of the game, even people who haven’t played the game in a while, to cling onto,” Leigh said. “There are things that speak to the way they played the game back in the day or a part of it that they really liked.”

Whether it’s raid, PvP arenas, or mythic dungeons, every player has a different esports element to WoW that they can relate to.

Teaming up

Golden Guardians’ decision to negotiate with Big Dumb Guild came around the same time that Complexity was announcing a deal with the world’s top raiding guild, Limit. Though the deal could be seen as competition, Leigh was happy that another organization saw the same value in WoW raiding guilds as he did.

“It was validating for sure,” he said. “I think what was most helpful was that the Limit/Complexity model was a very different model than the Method model for how to get into this.”

Meanwhile, the structure that Complexity-Limit brought to the table created a model that Golden Guardians could use as a starting point for its own foray into WoW raiding.

Prior to Complexity’s deal with Limit, the only organization that was highly invested in WoW raiding was Method, a team that started out as a raiding guild first and slowly transformed into a fully-branded esports organization.

In terms of how the organization plans to profit from WoW esports, Leigh said the team has a number of ideas for content plans, including crossover events to test PvP players in PvE content and vice versa.

“They really are like two different worlds,” he said. “You can be so insanely good at one and really, really terrible at the other.”

While he wasn’t ready to disclose other plans, Leigh said he’s confident that by allowing all three teams of players to intermingle, there should be more unique content ideas to brainstorm.