ESTA EsportsNext 2022 Post-Conference Press Release

September 2, 2022


Contact: Megan Van Petten | [email protected]

August 31, 2022

The Esports Trade Association Sets Industry Standards for 2023 with the
EsportsNext 2022 Conference on August 21 - 23 in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago - The Esports Trade Association set the stage for the industry trajectory of 2023 by hosting the EsportsNext 2022 Conference in Chicago, welcoming 200 esports industry professionals to the Hyatt Centric Chicago on the Magnificent Mile—633 North Saint Clair Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611 United States—from August 21st to 23rd. 

This annual conference focuses on B2B attendees that are made up of esports industry business professionals in both non-endemic and endemic roles. These are key purchasing decision-makers, including many company owners and executives. Marketing agencies, television companies, sponsorship firms, publishers, VC firms, venue managers—EsportsNext brought everyone under one roof. Also in attendance were representatives from World Business Chicago, Chicago’s public-private economic development agency that works closely with Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s Office. Attendees were able to connect through the many networking opportunities, including a Cubs Game at The Wrigley Rooftops and an evening reception set against the Chicago skyline at ROOF on theWit.

The event sponsors represented a wide range of industries and provided a great opportunity to uncover new business prospects and gather information on products and services. The title sponsor, Morgan Stanley, discussed the intersection of financing and esports. 

A talented lineup of speakers, including Ryan Johnson of Cxmmunity, Reid SantaBarbara of Odyssey, and Brian Wilneff of Alpha Metaverse Technologies, as well as Master of Ceremonies and NBC Olympic Commentator/Sports Reporter Lewis Johnson were present at the Hyatt Centric over the course of the conference. The ESTA Elevator Pitch Competition was the perfect opportunity for start-ups to pitch their idea to a crowd of industry professionals. Taking home the Elevator Pitch Competition Award was former Hasbro Head of Marketing, Marc Rosenberg with The Edge Desk, which the judges called groundbreaking. The annual Game Changer Award was presented to Chris Aviles of Garden State Esports for his accomplishments in bringing esports into high schools. 

In charitable initiatives, attendees were encouraged to donate to the Level-Up Fund and the ESTA Impact Fund. Donations to the Level-Up Fund were used to purchase board games for the family lounges at Lurie Children’s Hospital, for patients and families to enjoy. Donations to the ESTA Impact Fund help ESTA provide programming and support to members throughout the year. 

“EsportsNext 2022 was a wonderful opportunity to bring together a community with the heart to serve each other and advance the interests of the esports industry. Attendees had direct access to industry leaders after learning from each insightful panel. Industry veterans and newcomers alike are leaving this conference with new relationships and more opportunities than before they arrived. That’s a huge win.”  -John Davidson, ESTA Board Chair

“I am awe-inspired by seeing everyone in Chicago at the conference with their positive energy and excitement to come together as a community sharing the common goal of succeeding within and advancing the esports industry.” -Megan Van Petten, ESTA Founder

Conference Agenda

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers - Held at Wrigley Field Rooftops. Attendees had an early chance to network and enjoy the indoor/outdoor views of the game. 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Featuring an Afternoon Registration and Welcome, Members-Only Townhall, a panel of Esports Executives led by Morgan Stanley, and an evening opening reception at the Hyatt. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Main Event - Networking Breakfast, Panel Sessions, Fireside Chat, Networking Lunch, Elevator Pitch Competition, Free Play Area, Game Changer Award and Elevator Pitch Competition Award Announcements, and Networking Happy Hour


  • Dr. Katrina Adkins, SHI International Corp.
  • Jorrel Batac, NASEF
  • Rohan Bose, Teknos Associates
  • Michael Brooks, National Association of Collegiate Esports
  • Terence Burke, KidSay
  • Laura Burkemper, The Catalyst Center
  • Charles Conroy, Unikrn @ Entain
  • Joe Cox, The Pop-Marketer
  • Brett Diamond, Version1
  • John Davidson, ESTA
  • Allison DeLeone, The Production Network
  • Carlos E. Duque, Bailey & Glasser
  • Mike Ellsworth, Lightware Visual Engineering
  • Ari Fox, Gameacon LLC
  • Anthony Gaud, Gaud-Hammer Gaming Group
  • James Hess, Encore
  • Jake Hicks, The Law of Esports
  • Cory Hollingsworth, ARterra Labs
  • Lewis Johnson, NBC Sports
  • Ryan Johnson, Cxmmunity
  • Alex Kerr, Trajektory
  • Rebecca Longawa, Happy Warrior
  • Verta Maloney, the*gameHERs
  • Kurt Melcher, Intersport
  • Joseph McAllister, Insight
  • Charles O’Donnell, CSL Esports
  • Jeff Palumbo, Lenovo
  • Grant Paranjape, Washington Justice
  • Roger Payne, YouGov
  • Lindsay Poss, Holodeck Media
  • Alexis Prousis, Blinkfire Analytics
  • Rakia Reynolds, Skai Blue Media
  • Sandra L. Richards, Morgan Stanley
  • Reid SantaBarbara, Odyssey
  • Gerald Solomon, NASEF
  • Sonja Stills, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
  • Jason Tirado, Lightware Visual Engineering
  • Megan Van Petten, ESTA
  • Justin Varghese, Panda
  • Adam Weinstein, ThriveFantasy
  • Eric Weiss, Technical Compliance
  • Jill Williamson, Gravis Law
  • Brian Wilneff, Alpha Metaverse Technologies Inc.
  • Joshua Wong, JEGI Clarity

Sponsor List

Title Sponsor

  • Morgan Stanley - Global Sports & Entertainment

Gold Sponsors

  • Encore
  • Lightware Visual Engineering

Supporting Sponsors

  • Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • ARterra Labs
  • Bailey Glasser LLP
  • COPE
  • The Edge Desk
  • Extra Life
  • Fatcap
  • Five
  • G3 Esports
  • Gravis Law
  • Holodeck Media
  • Hyatt Centric
  • I Play Games
  • Intel
  • Kane Russell Coleman Logan
  • LG Electronics
  • Lotus Partners LLC
  • Microsoft
  • Power & Cronin LTD
  • ROOF on theWit
  • SHI International
  • Snohomish County Sports Commission
  • Smash Interactive/SURGE
  • Teknos Associates
  • The Esports Software
  • the*gameHERs
  • Trajektory
  • Ultimate Gaming Championship
  • Version1
  • Wrigley Rooftops
  • Weldon, Williams & Lick, Inc.

Media inquiries are welcome. Please contact Megan Van Petten at [email protected] for press credentials and more information 

About the Esports Trade Association

The Esports Trade Association (ESTA) promotes, protects, and advances the broader interests of the esports community. The organization accomplishes this by providing forward-thinking professional development programs, networking opportunities, relevant industry research, and valuable tools and resources to the membership. ESTA focuses on promoting business expertise and sustainable growth of the esports industry by growing the number of participants, sponsors, products, and services, procuring industry research, and executing industry events. Learn more about the ESTA and its mission statement at



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