During a full day of insightful and motivational sessions you will learn not only what ESTA is all about, but hear from top-minds in the industry addressing where the business of esports currently is and where it’s going. Our speakers will dig into unique topics including how states, cities, and venues are investing in esports, how potential esports sponsors are evaluating their commitments to the industry, and what challenges the esports industry is facing and what the industry can do better.
Join us and be a part of this can’t-miss conference full of networking opportunities and some live esports action!
The profit from this event will go towards ESTA’s Membership Program where we will be funding esports research, professional development initiatives, creating an Esports Buyer's Guide, hosting member meetups nationally, and more!
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David Bialek is a senior executive/owner and entrepreneur in sports and entertainment marketing and is an alternative media specialist.
He spearheaded the creation of multiple advertising platforms in the place-based and sports advertising space. He is credited with building two groundbreaking initiatives in collegiate sports:
* He led a sales team to create an advertising network on field goal nets in over 60 NCAA schools.
* He invented the “profile” position on NCAA and NBA basket stanchions, which is widely considered to
be the most impactful signage position in all of sport.
Rohan Bose is a senior financial analyst with Mercer Capital. Rohan has valuation experience in engagements related to corporate planning and reorganizations, financial reporting, fairness opinions, litigation support, employee stock ownership plans, and estate and gift tax planning and compliance matters. Rohan also has significant knowledge of the professional sports and esports industries.
Rohan’s has been a casual gamer since a young age. His interest in esports developed when he attended a Dallas Startup Week event in 2018 that introduced him to the industry. Since that time, Rohan has published a series of whitepapers that focus on the esports industry from a valuation perspective.
Asante Bradford is Project Manager for Digital Entertainment and Emerging Media for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the sales and marketing arm for the State of Georgia.
The Global Commerce Division conducts extensive business development, sales, marketing and promotional activities in order to attract entertainment projects and businesses to the state. The division’s team also assists the local, national and international entertainment industries with information, expertise and resources.
Asante helps promote the growth of the digital media industry as well as identify initiatives that will help grow businesses for the state of Georgia in interactive entertainment and eSports. He also helps educate potential prospects and provide clients with information about the Georgia Entertainment Industry Incentives Act.
His area of concentration with the Global Commerce office is to increase the impact of interactive entertainment for the State of Georgia as well as being a dedicated liaison to assist with promotions, logistics and business development for attracting digital media companies outside the state to relocate in Georgia.
Esports is becoming an economic driver for Georgia with Fortune 500 companies, a thriving tech center, film, TV and videogame tax incentives all play into the mix. Georgia esports is also a sanctioned activity at the local high school level with a focus on STEM exposure.
Ed transformed his career towards product development/entrepreneurship upon completing General Assembly coding bootcamp in New York. Prior to acquiring knowledge on how to integrate technologies, he spent 20+ years creating content within global ad agencies like WPP, IPG, and Publicis. Brooks produced digital and print content for AT&T, Lufthansa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, British Airways and Bank of America. During his career, Ed went client-side within the NFL League offices to form and manage the internal creative studio. Mario and Ed were fortunate enough to meet within the NFL when they were tasked to migrate, organize and monetize photo and video legacy assets, serving teams, sponsors, media outlets and Superbowl committees.
Ed Bunnell is a 25 year veteran in the digital entertainment space.
Ed most recently worked at FOX Sports Media Group where he served as SVP of Programming & Content. Ed Bunnell joined FOX Sports Interactive in 2001 and currently serves as Senior Vice President of Programming & Content. In that role, he developed and executed the site’s editorial and video programming strategy. FOX Sports Interactive averaged more than 35 million monthly unique visitors under Bunnell’s direction. Ed recruited and signed a number of high-profile editorial contributors including award-winning columnists Jason Whitlock, Mark Kriegel, Ken Rosenthal, Alex Marvez, John Paul Morosi and Lee Spencer.
He also headed the site’s industry-leading venture into the production and distribution of video content with the creation of FOX Sports Digital Entertainment, a unit commissioned in September 2009 to create Internet-only programming exclusively for FOXSports.com on MSN. FOXSports.com typically produces more than four hours a day of exclusive Web video including the acclaimed “Lunch with Benefits” series, a weekday programming lineup of five lunch-time shows that evolves to stay current with the sports calendar.
Prior to FOX Sports Interactive, Bunnell was Executive Producer for Sports at Electronic Arts, where he coordinated production and programming for EA.com from 2000 to 2001. Less than three months after launch, EA.com ascended to the Web’s No. 1 gaming destination and under Bunnell’s supervision, the user base multiplied by more than 600%.
Prior to that, Bunnell served in a variety of senior production and programming roles at both Alta Vista and CBS Sportsline (now CBSSports.com).
Bunnell graduated from Plymouth State College in Plymouth, New Hampshire with a BS in Business
Conroy joined Switch as its Vice President of Gaming leading company's global expansion in gaming and esports, further building its global transmission and production services business in the rapidly growing world of competitive gaming. He came to Switch with extensive experience in professional gaming having most recently served as chief development officer for Next Gen Tech, the parent company of Complexity Gaming, which was sold to Jerry Jones (and the Dallas Cowboys) last year. Conroy was instrumental in the redevelopment of Complexity and its international expansion, which began in 2011. Conroy was also a fan favorite in The Championship Gaming series, which aired on DirecTV, and served as general manager of the Dallas Venom for over two seasons. He is regarded as one of the early pioneers in professional gaming and has served in leadership roles in additional gaming entities.
Doug Cortez is a husband, father and esports aficionado. He has been involved in esports since 2005, and when he isn’t writing about Halo, you can find him trying not to feed in the mid lane.
As Chief Revenue Officer for Texas A&M Athletics Pat led the school’s pioneering efforts into esports. Working closely with students, faculty and campus administrators Pat organized online tournaments, integrated corporate sponsors, involved student casters in tournament broadcasts, launched a massively successful esports summer camp, and laid the groundwork for a dedicated esports facility on campus. Sensing a bigger opportunity beyond College Station, Pat left A&M last fall to focus full time on collegiate esports. Today he is working with a select group of partners who are striving to ensure the healthy and sustainable growth of collegiate esports in the U.S. and around the globe.
Martin Dachselt is the Managing Director of Berlin-based data startup Bayes Esports Solutions. Martin has over 20 years of top-level management experience in tech startups. He served as CTO for DOJO Madness, Smartfrog, and Delivery Hero, and as VP Operations for Click&Buy. Martin oversees the daily operation and overall strategy for Bayes.
Robert is a seasoned media and marketing professional with over 20 years of domestic (USA) and international experience. Robert has worked in the online gaming business since 1997 working with global companies such as PartyGaming, 888, Pinnacle and others in legalized markets around the globe. Earlier in his career Robert was the Director of International Broadcast Services for Yahoo!, where he developed and implemented the Internet broadcast business model in 24 countries outside the United States. Prior to Yahoo!, Robert worked directly with Mark Cuban as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Technology for Broadcast.com, developing the sales strategies and revenue models, which eventually lead to a ground breaking IPO for Broadcast.com. As sports betting is starting to take hold in the USA Robert stands behind fair and responsible gambling. As such, Robert is also the VP of the Integrity Commission of the United States eSports Federation with the mission of encouraging fair and honest play amongst the competitors of this rapidly growing sport.
John has a diverse professional background including skateboarding, business development, video production, and marketing. After pursuing his dream as a professional skateboarder, John went back to school to receive his bachelor’s degree in marketing from California State University, Sacramento.
After graduating, John joined a friend in Dallas, TX to launch a startup animation studio. Over five years, they grew the studio to a team of seven, working with top brands including Nike, MTV, Rob Dyrdek, Vans, Fox Sports and ESPN. John then went on to join The Marketing Arm and produce live-action and animation for AT&T, Nissan, Goodyear, and Topgolf.
John also led non-endemic partnerships and the esports strategy for GameStop, the world’s largest specialty gaming retailer. His experience within subcultures and leading a brand in this space brings a unique perspective, informing non-endemics how to effectively enter and add value to the esports community.
Today John leads esports business development for Production Resource Group (PRG), the world’s leading entertainment and event tech solutions company, providing turnkey services for concerts, TV/Film, corporate, events, trade shows & more.
As Sr. Director of Global Demand and Partnerships at Microsoft, Matt’s team is responsible for the global advertising revenue generated from Microsoft’s consumer products such as Microsoft News, Outlook.com, Xbox and Mixer. He is responsible for strategic partnerships with Verizon, AT&T, Google, Amazon as well as numerous partners across the AdTech industry.
Matt has been in the digital advertising industry for 20 years and has held senior sales leadership roles for the past 10. During his 10 years at Microsoft, Matt spent 4 years leading the Xbox Advertising sales team where his team created innovative advertising solutions for Fortune 500 brands looking to engage with the Xbox audience.
Matt holds a BA in Business & Economics from Lafayette College and lives in Elmhurst, IL with his wife and 3 children.
Tom is a lifelong gamer and the Director of Esports Marketing and Partnerships at Wisdom Gaming Group where his team helps brands understand, evaluate, and execute marketing strategies within the esports and gaming space. With clients including Jack Link’s, The Minnesota Twins, X Rocker and Element Electronics, his work has been primarily focused on getting non-endemic brands into the scene as there are many exciting first-mover opportunities in verticals where competitors haven’t adapted yet.
He got his start as a gamer on the Atari 7800, but discovered his passion for gaming by playing Final Fantasy I on the NES. Beginning his career in marketing as a programmer at Colle McVoy, he used his technical background to help start a brand innovation department focused on studying technology trends and helping clients like Land O’ Lakes, Target, Invisalign, Optum, and CHS stay ahead of the competition. After closely watching the meteoric rise of esports, he was excited to start at Wisdom.GG where he can combine his professional and personal passions.
Edward Gold is a Marketing Director for the State Farm Insurance Companies headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., and has been with the company since 2003. He has over 25+ years of marketing, media and sponsorship experience.
Ed’s primary responsibility is to oversee the development of State Farm’s marketing strategy, creative, media and sponsorship efforts, for all of State Farm’s Property & Casualty product lines and customer segments. Over the years, Edward was named an “Online Media All-Star” by Mediapost, one of the “21 Most Intriguing People in Media” by min online, was named one of CableFAX’s “Sweet 16”, and most recently was inducted in the Marketing, Advertising, and Media “Leaders & Legends” by Media Village. In addition, in 2016, State Farm was honored as the “Sports Sponsor of the Year” by Sport Business Journal. In 2019, State Farm won the “Esports Brand of the Year” by the Tempest Awards.
While at State Farm, Edward has overseen partnerships with the NBA, Disney/Pixar, ESPN, Riot Games, Major League Baseball, Telemundo, and Apple. He has expanded State Farm’s media efforts in traditional, online, and new media, through innovative thinking while achieving business goals.
Before coming to State Farm, Edward was Partner/Media Director for the Gold Consulting Group in Los Angeles, CA. Additionally, his previous experience includes Senior Vice President/Media Director at Kalis & Savage Worldwide Partners in Los Angeles, Vice President/Sales & Business Development for Executive Sports International, and Vice President/Associate Media Director at DDB Needham Chicago.
Edward is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and lives in Bloomington, IL, with his wife Lynne and two boys, Montgomery (15) and Henry (13).
Dr. Chris Haskell plays video games for a living, or at least that’s what his friends think. He's the director of the Varsity Esports At Boise State. As a professor and researcher, Chris also focuses on the impact of video games, virtual worlds, social media, and digital culture. Dr. H teaches his classes in Minecraft and World of Warcraft. He created a course about Facebook, Youtube, and Memes. He even has retro 80's arcade games in his office,... for research of course. When it comes to work, Dr. Haskell is serious about play. It’s no wonder his friends think he needs a real job.
Daniel Herz is the current Chief Revenue Officer for Mission Control, a company that provides organizations the opportunity to create recreational esports leagues. Daniel started his career in traditional sports and entertainment with the Denver Broncos and the City of Denver's venues. In 2016, Daniel joined the esports community with Electronic Sports League, ESL. During his time at ESL, Daniel managed all major US partners as well as had a hand in leading strategic initiatives with college conferences and traditional sports properties. Daniel was just previously Complexity Gaming's Chief Revenue Officer leading all revenue opportunities working with partners such as GameStop, Miller Coors, US Army, MSI, HyperX, WinStar, Panini and H4X .
As Executive Vice President Americas, Greg most recently oversaw Perform Group’s commercial content licensing strategy and execution. He oversaw a team managing business activities supporting traditional media, emerging technology, pro sports teams/properties, fantasy sports operators, betting platform providers and sportsbooks.
Previously, Greg led STATS LLC for the past 20 years as Senior Vice President of Sales and Global Partnerships. In his role Greg had responsibility for Sales, Marketing and Revenue Operations. This included oversight for all commercial revenue, sales related systems, processes, training and marketing communication. Greg helped transition STATS from a U.S. sports data provider to a global leader in sports analytics, content and software.
Greg founded and developed strategic partnerships consisting of ESPN, Verizon/Yahoo, NBC/Comcast, CBS, Fox Sports, The Score, Rogers, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Snap, Televisa and Globo, along with hundreds of multi-sports team and league partnerships.
Greg holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master of Science in Sports Management from Illinois State University. Greg participated on the Advisory Board for both the Sports Business Program in the John Cook School of Business at St. Louis University and the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida. He is currently an advisor for Stadia Ventures, in St. Louis, MO.
Wendy Lecot is actively pioneering gaming lifestyle partnerships and experiences for HyperX. She looks for non-gaming brands that want to strengthen their relationship with gamers or want to get to know gamers better.
She is better at watching video game play versus playing them, but she still considers herself a gamer! She participates in thought leadership roles providing mentoring sessions on working with brands in the #esports industry and women in esports, and she has previously been a speaker at gaming conferences and marketing summits.
Super powers: serious energy, resourcefulness, self-starter, creativity, agility, ready with a Plan B.
Specialties: esports, gaming sponsorship, brand campaigns, global marketing strategies, global product launches, digital marketing, social media strategies, Facebook community development, Twitter, Instagram audience building, SnapChat Swipe to Buy, YouTube channel optimization, content marketing, product messaging, product positioning, market research, channel marketing, word of mouth marketing, high tech products, multi-lingual search engine marketing (Google Adwords, Yandex, Baidu), Sprinklr social enterprise platform, global product management, pay per click advertising, media buying, quarterly business review reporting, campaign tracking, remarketing, influencer marketing, team building, contracts, sales, budgeting, and management.
With over 20 years of experience in sports marketing and innovation, Rebecca is an advisor, investor and master connector in the esports space. As the former Brand Manager for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx, she worked to align sales and marketing efforts and ensure consistent brand integrity throughout both franchises. Currently, she runs her own esports consultancy agency, Happy Warrior. Her mission is to come alongside non-endemic brands to help them navigate and activate strategic partnerships in the world of esports.
Robert is a veteran strategist and marketing and communications professional. He is currently the Senior Associate Athletics Director/External Communications at Louisiana State University overseeing all communications and marketing functions, media relations, branding, digital media, digital marketing, creative services and content development for LSU Athletics.
Esports Interest: As esports continues to grow internationally and on college campuses across the nation, we are exploring ways in which we can get more involved as an athletic department and university.
Donny works at Brightline Interactive as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Brightline Interactive is a team of creative technologists that design, build, and install interactive and virtual reality experiences at events, permanent display areas, and simulation environments. Brightline CREATIONS are engaging, scalable, and contagious.
Donny started his career working in the music industry in late 2001. Donny worked on developing new online technologies with partnering companies that helped promote and discover new talent. Some of the companies Donny worked with included Guitar Center, Avid Systems, Warner/Chappell, Billboard, Academy of Country Music, MTV, Oxygen Network, USA Network, Lifetime, New Line Cinema, Sony, Peavey, Yamaha, Electro-Voice (EV), Shure, IK Multimedia, PreSonus, Korg, and CAD Microphone.
Donny then went on to work in the video streaming industry to help some of the largest corporations and associations adopt online video for their events. It was during this time that Donny formed a partnership with Production Resource Group, one of the largest entertainment and event Technology Companies in the world. Donny then went on to work at Production Resource Group and lead the strategy for the eSports Vertical Market as well as lead the PRG Digital Engagement Services at PRG. This team provides the latest digital solutions for the association, corporate, entertainment industries.
Payne’s career is dedicated to showing brands the impact their marketing and sponsorship efforts have on the sports and entertainment industries. Spending money is great but what does it all mean? Is it positively impacting the business? Payne works to ensure the insights are concise and practical for application by key brand executives.
Payne’s career began in Chicago with Navigate Research as the first employee. After five years of growing the agency in headcount, clients, and offices, Payne joined Killerspin Table Tennis. While at Killerspin, Payne managed all brand and sponsorship projects, including sponsored players. His success led to also overseeing manufacturing partnership and streamlining the introduction of new products, leading to time spent in Europe and China.
Currently, Payne leads research and measurement initiatives for The Marketing Arm’s sports and entertainment clients, focused on showing the impact of sponsorship and marketing programs on the key business drivers for brands. His team’s work has led to a streamlined measurement approach resulting in quicker and more consistent data reporting and provides client executives with important information for crucial partnership decisions.
Throughout Payne’s career, he has experience with brands such as AT&T, State Farm, and Mercedes Benz Australia, leagues including the NFL and MLS, the NCAA and major universities, agencies such as AEG and Wasserman, and government organizations including the British Airport Authority and Chinese Table Tennis Association.
Outside of work, Payne is focused on his family – a wife and two small children – and involvement in other organizations including the Navy Pier Associate Board and National Parkinson’s Foundation Moving Day Chicago.
Heath Price has grown up around higher education, having spent over 10-years at two flagship research universities - LSU and the University of Kentucky (UK). Additionally, he had the opportunity to work in the private sector as a partner to many institutions across the United States.
In his current role at the University of Kentucky, Heath serves as the Associate CIO in ITS. Most recently he has been a core member of a cross-functional campus team at UK that is charged with building a comprehensive and thought approach to engaging gaming and Esports through the University-environment.
Mathew Ratner is currently the Associate Director for Sports & Entertainment Tourism at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau. The goal of the Sports & Entertainment Tourism department is to attract, promote and retain sporting events, conferences, and conventions for Greater Miami and the Beaches. Most recently, Ratner played an integral part in Greater Miami being named one of 23 candidate host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup United Bid for North America, organizing local efforts for Miami-Dade County. He also worked with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee and College Football National Championship Host Committee in the communities’ preparations for Super Bowl LIV as well as the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Ratner has been in the sports & entertainment business for more than 12 years, working with collegiate as well as professional and amateur sports organizations in various positions ranging from media relations to development and marketing. He started his career at the University of South Florida Sports Information Department before stints with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League, the Miami Dolphins and Florida International University Athletics.
A native of New York, New York, Ratner holds an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in recreation and sport management from Florida International University.
Danny began his career at G2 as the 40th employee. He was on the ground floor of scaling G2 from 2M ARR to 50M+ ARR over those 4 years from business development to leader of a new division within the company.
In November 2019, Danny was awarded “AE Of The Year” and won a $13,000 prize pool for his efforts in this public competition hosted by the company Chili Piper.
Danny was formerly a “semi-pro” gamer in High School where he played Call Of Duty and Rainbow Six Vegas on several teams that won tournaments back in the mid-2000’s. He was also part of 360icons, a Call of Duty tournament website which was the second partnered channel of justin.tv (now Twitch), had a user base of 150,000+, and hosted the largest ever console tournament called Frag Cup in partnership with Machinima.
Today Danny is transitioning his career to Metadata.io, a B2B SaaS company to become their second full time salesperson. This company works with B2B Brands to automate & enhance their advertising strategy.
Kevin Reape is the General Manager of Mizzou Esports at the University of Missouri, one of the largest public institutions in the country to officially add a varsity esports program. Kevin graduated from Mizzou in 2014 with a degree in business and immediately began working full-time for the University of Missouri in the marketing offices of Student Affairs. In 2018, when the University began looking at new initiatives that excited the next generation of college students, Kevin knew that esports was the answer, and began developing a plan to create a program unlike any other that exists. Just 15 months later, Mizzou Esports has 21 scholarship student athletes who practice and compete in the 5,000-square-foot MSI Training Facility on campus. The rosters compete in Overwatch, Rocket League, and League of Legends, and have seen tremendous success in just 6 months of competition. Rocket League won the NACE Rocket League Championship in Atlanta, Georgia in November, Overwatch was one of 12 teams to be invited to compete in the Tespa Varsity Invitational last fall, and League of Legends is competing in an RSAA-sanctioned (Riot Scholastic Association of America) Midwest Esports Conference this spring semester, traveling to universities in Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri for regular season matches. Learn more about Mizzou Esports on Twitter @MizzouEsports.
Alex Rodriguez is passionate about esports and the surrounding industry. He studied Communication and Journalism at Texas A&M University while playing video games and following the industry in Asia and Europe very closely. Alex broadcasts regularly from a home studio while supporting initiatives local to him including through his university and surrounding Texas universities notably: Tespa, the Lone Star Clash, Quantic Gaming and the CSN/CSA Agency. He previously worked full-time as a producer and on-camera host for Major League Gaming in New York City and Machinima in Los Angeles. Alex is currently an independent contractor helping as much as he can in the space as an on-camera personality, adviser, and speaker. Through his independent work, he’s been able to help and gain relationships with a diverse group of companies including Microsoft, Mixer, 343, Amazon/Twitch, Red Bull, Sony, EA Sports, WB Games, Ubisoft, Samsung, Acer, MSI, Activision-Blizzard, Turtle Entertainment/ESL, Dreamhack, Psyonix, S2 Games, WCG, Nexon, WESG, and more.
Greg Skasko is the CEO of Abacus3, the esports firm dedicated to community building through strategic brand partnerships. Skasko is a leader in sports and entertainment marketing and technologies, having held various key positions at AT&T and Blockbuster before starting Abacus3 with his partners. Greg resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife and daughter.
As a Senior Marketing Manager at Molson Coors Beverage Company, Justine’s team is responsible for bringing Miller Lite’s purpose to life in sports & passion points that give the brand a voice relevant to consumers today. She is responsible for steering Miller Lite’s gaming strategy and integrated programs, as well as building authentic connections through strategic partnerships.
Justine has 14 years of experience in Sales & Marketing within the beer industry. Her marketing experience is vast from working on smaller incubator brands, launching new innovation and driving meaningful results with some of the most iconic brands in beer.
Justine holds a BBA in Entertainment, Sport, and Promotion Management from Northwood University and lives in Chicago, IL.
Wim Stocks has been a progressive leader in the online gaming and esports businesses since 1990. From 2001 to 2006, Wim was Executive Vice President of the “new” Atari Inc. (a roll-up and amalgam of Hasbro Interactive, Infogrames, and GT Interactive), leading and managing one of the broadest-reaching interactive entertainment publishing networks in the world. In 2006, Wim started an entrepreneurial online gaming publishing business named Elephant Entertainment, assuming the role of President and COO. In March 2008, the leading games publisher THQ purchased Elephant and Wim assumed the role of EVP and leader of the Online Gaming division and related digital gaming initiatives. In 2010, Wim was recruited to join the executive management team of Virgin Gaming (now WorldGaming) as Executive Vice President. In this role, Wim helped launch the company and platform in 2010, as well as developed strategic investor, technology, game publisher, retailer, and other brand partnerships. In April 2016, Wim was named CEO of WorldGaming & Collegiate StarLeague, which was acquired by Cineplex in the Fall of 2015 (a leading movie theater operator with diversification into gaming, location based entertainment, and other aligned entertainment and digital media businesses), and is presently leading the esports business, strategy, programming initiatives, sponsorship/partnership sales, and investor relations for the Company.
Wim currently serves as an Advisor to the Special Olympics International; an Advisor to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) and Ryerson University’s ‘Future of Sports Lab’; Board member of Wombo Sports, a sports/gaming influencer agency; Advisor and part of the ownership group of Andbox, parent company of the New York Excelsior (NYXL), the professional NYC-based franchise in the Overwatch League and the NY Subliners, professional NYC-based franchise in the Call of Duty League; is a Board Member of National Public Radio’s ‘Marketplace’ programming; and is also a Trustee and on the Board of Directors of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Wim is also Chairman of the Board of HPPS Ltd (a restaurant and real-estate holding company based in Minneapolis), and has also served on the boards of Allina/Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Driven by my passion, vision, and experience in successfully managing multiple trade associations, we founded the Esports Trade Association in 2018. Through our programs, ESTA will promote, protect, and advance the broader interests of the esports community. Looking back at the overwhelming growth in tournaments and viewership, many of my friends, colleagues and family members are amongst these growing millions of people participating in esports. As a result, I’ve been keeping my eye on the industry and recognize the need for support from a trade association where stakeholders, organizations, leagues, and players can come together to thrive as an industry.
Player turned play-by-play commentator, Justin Varghese brings a unique perspective to the esports space. Now serving as the North American Marketing Manager for DreamHack, Justin's role revolves around carefully planning and executing regional activations to galvanize key markets and demographics, while simultaneously scoping out larger plays to increase brand awareness on the western hemisphere.
How I approach marketing is similar to how I approach play by play commentary: at the end of the day, it's all about the narrative.
Doug Watson is the head of Esports Insights for Riot Games. An alumni of Bentley University, Doug began his career working in consulting and ad tech, helping to drive audience centric analytics through major financial, automotive, and travel companies among others. He joined Riot Games, developers of League of Legends and operators of 13 professional leagues, 3 years ago.
As the head of Esports insights, Doug and his team are responsible for expressing the voice of the player through data, providing expertise in media measurement, and assisting in the product and strategy development of esports. This group works across all 13 leagues and 3 international events to capture insights and drive better decisions across Esports and Riot Games. As leaders in the esports space, this team works across industry to create a healthy and sustainable ecosystem for esports to thrive.
When not focusing on esports, Doug can be found skiing, watching hockey, and traveling with his wife Christine.
Michael Wisnios, who holds a bachelor’s in History and Political Science from Northern Illinois University, along with a Certificate in Civic-Engagement, directs all esports programming for the university—including the League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive; Call of Duty; Smash Brothers; Rocket League, and Overwatch teams. Outside of being a part of RMU, he is also a Founding Advisor for GGLeagues, and a part of the eFuse Collegiate Advisory Board.
During his time as a student at Northern Illinois, Wisnios helped author the esports club’s constitution and served as a coach for its League of Legends teams. Wisnios was also elected to the position of Student Senator and served as the Neptune Hall Treasurer and Representative within the student government. Prior to his time at NIU, Wisnios was Vice President of the Video Game Club at McHenry County College and was also affiliated with the MCC esports program.
Rick Wolf is the President of FA Media LLC. In his role there, he is leading the company operationally to create entertaining and informative content for the fantasy sports and sports betting industries. FantasyAlarm.com is a leader in the fantasy sports industry with drive time radio on SiriusXM plus more content and customizable tools than any other fantasy company. WagerAlarm.com is a burgeoning property producing the same kind of content plus custom tools experience as the flagship property.
Wolf is a SiriusXM radio personality. He co-hosts Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio with Glenn Colton since 2012 bringing high-energy hijinks to the airwaves.
Wolf is a founding Board Member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), a non-profit organization with the mission of raising awareness worldwide for Fantasy Sports. Wolf served as FSTA Chairman from 2002 to 2006 and Treasurer from 2016 to 2018. In 2011, Wolf was inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame.
Rick Wolf is the Founder of Full Moon Sports Solutions, a company dedicated to delivering solutions to sports companies with a specialty in Fantasy Sports.
From 2006-2011, Wolf was Director of Business Development for NBC Sports Digital. In this role, he focused on creating partnerships that expanded the digital sports businesses of NBC, including NBCSports.com, Rotoworld.com and NBCOlympics.com during a period of unprecedented growth.
Prior to that, Wolf was EVP of Strategic Partnerships for Allstar Stats (Rotoworld). Wolf created partnerships including USA Today, FOX Sports, NHL, MLB, CBS Sports and MAXIM. Wolf defined a business model that balanced B2B services with B2C premium products & free content allowing Allstar Stats to grow into a favorable acquisition target. In August 2006, NBC Universal purchased Allstar Stats, Rotoworld.com and Sandbox.com.
In early 1995, Wolf was the 13th employee at SportsLine USA which later became CBS SportsLine after a November 1997 public offering. In 1997, Wolf designed a plan for the consolidation of the Fantasy Industry under the CBS SportsLine brand. In 1998, Wolf created the partnership with Commissioner.com that led to building the best fantasy sports suite on the Internet and spearheaded relationships with both MLB and NFL for official Fantasy Products legitimizing the hobby with mainstream America.
From 1987-1995, Wolf was part of the technology team at IBM’s PRODIGY that produced Baseball Manager, the first online Fantasy Sports game.
Wolf is an avid player of fantasy sports. Colton & The Wolfman have won five USA Today LABR American League titles, two TOUT Wars American League titles, two FSTA baseball titles and ten Fantasy Football Expert league titles in the last 17 years.
ESTA has been closely following the spread and impact of coronavirus within the context of the upcoming EsportsNext conference. Rest assured that the health and safety of our speakers, members, and attendees is our top priority.
After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our speakers, members, conference attendees, and staff – we have made the difficult decision to postpone EsportsNext 2020, originally scheduled for April 6-7 in Chicago.
Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event as scheduled for the industry and our supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.
We've spent the past year pulling together a spectacular program designed to chart the future. Despite the global health crisis, we will continue to share insights, spark action and host meaningful discussions of the ideas that matter most in the esports world in safe, relevant formats.
For the last several weeks we’ve had a task force diligently preparing a contingency plan to deliver an unparalleled online experience to showcase industry insights, panelists, and sessions originally planned for EsportsNext as well as supplementary bonus content. If there is one thing that we in the gaming industry know how to do, and do well, is create a sense of community and commaraderity online.
EsportsNext will still provide attendees with the information they need to support and grow their business, but we’ll be bringing those insights to you in a modern way that makes the best of the social distancing situation we find ourselves in. With that in mind, we will be rolling out pre-recorded panel discussions and produced segments that will be streamed at a later date and available on-demand. Panelists will be tuning in following the broadcast to take your questions live and provide the latest updates. We’ll unveil new sessions and content week by week leading up to an in-person meet up since we know that part of the value EsportsNext offers is in-person networking. We’ll be sending a follow-up survey to gather your feedback on timing and location of the in-person meetup but preliminary assumptions are that it will be held in the summer months when hopefully the COVID-19 virus has flattened out.
We will continue to monitor events and information from public health authorities and will update our schedule and policy as events warrant. We feel passionately that EsportsNext matters more than ever in the uncertainty of the current moment.
We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining EsportsNext this year. We look forward to bringing you a hybrid experience that will position you to stay ahead of the rapidly developing esports industry with on-demand content culminating in a live networking event.
Thank you for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you at future ESTA events.
Recess & City Hall Restaurant is a new event venue serving up good times and zero red tape in a lively, relaxed atmosphere in Chicago’s West Loop.
The 10,000-square-foot event space has a separate grand entrance on Kinzie Street. The column-free hall, with its soaring 40-foot-high ceilings, 37-foot stone bar and industrial-elegant architectural detailing, is a striking venue for ESTA’s inaugural conference.
16.1 miles from O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
11.3 miles from Midway Airport (MDW)
We are bringing together the key stakeholders, business executives, and leaders in the esports industry from around the nation to network, learn from each other, and discuss the future of esports. The audience we are targeting to invite to the conference are primarily business executives and leaders from:
+ Game Development Companies
+ Non-Endemic Brands
+ CVBs / Sports Authorities
+ Event Logistics / Production Companies
+ Tournament Organizers
+ VC & PE Firms
+ Universities / Colleges
+ Professional Sports Teams
+ News & Media Platforms
+ Influencers / Content Creators
Each attendee will need to register for the conference.
The registration fee is due upon registration. Cancellations emailed to the ESTA Office (email@example.com) by 5:00 pm CST on Sunday, March 1, 2020, are eligible for a refund of the registration fee, with exception of an administration fee of $250. No refunds will be provided for cancellations received after the cancellation deadline. In the event of conference being rescheduled, sponsorships and registrations will be transferred to a new date. A member may transfer their registration to another member without penalty.