G2 Esports Commercial Director on Shifting from NFL to Esports

Before Lindsey Eckhouse joined G2 Esports Database-Link-e1521645463907 in January as its new commercial director, she didn’t quite know what to expect from the world of esports. She spent the past seven years with the NFL, including four years as its director of partnerships for Europe, and previously worked in the consulting division at IMG. Esports would be a fresh challenge for her after more than a decade in the traditional sports space.

“It’s actually not as different as I thought it would be, now that I’m in it,” she said. “I think the perception from the outside is that it’s still very much the wild, wild west. This is coming from traditional sports, so it might be a naïve perception, but this was my perception before I met Jens [Hilgers, chairman and co-founder], Carlos [Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder], and Peter [Mucha, COO]: that esports was still trying to come into its own. And actually, I would say in a great way, I’ve been surprised with how professional the industry already is.”

“I always try to think through: What can we own, and what can we be number one at?”

Eckhouse pointed to things like G2’s infrastructure around the players, including analysts, coaches, and managers, along with having team houses and encouraging players to live healthy lifestyles. Additionally, she was “pleasantly surprised” at the level of content production in the industry, including what G2 could do with a small team of creators.

“[Intel Database-Link-e1521645463907 Extreme Masters] Katowice was one of my first big esports experiences, and I was blown away by the way the show was presented,” she said. “The opening ceremony was brilliant. There’s a really interesting cross-section there of entertainment, music, sport, and gaming all coming together, and that’s the allure. That’s the sweet spot that I certainly want to try to replicate and emulate with everything that we’re doing at G2.”

Her own perceptions around the esports industry changed once she became immersed in it, and she said that one of G2’s aims to help spread that sensation more broadly to the general public. When G2’s Berlin fan hub ultimately opens its doors, she hopes that it will help ease stigmas and stereotypes around esports and gaming while also letting fans better connect with the organization.

g2 LEC

Credit: lolesports/Riot

“I think it really sets us apart in terms of having almost a community anchor to bring people together, let them touch and feel esports, and demystify some of the existing stereotypes around the ecosystem—but also get to know our players and our business and brand in a much more up close and personal way,” she said of the hub.

While she’s seen similarities behind the scenes of both esports and traditional sports, there are also key structural and organizational deviations. According to Eckhouse, the biggest difference is that esports organizations don’t own the game. In the NFL, the league controls the entire product top-to-bottom. In esports, there are different games made by various publishers, as well as a wide array of tournament organizers in the mix. G2 can’t actually own the games, so what parts of the process can it ‘own’ instead?

“I think we’ll always have that number-one priority of competitive teams, and ensuring that we’re fielding the right teams and putting the right players together to be successful…”

“I always try to think through: What can we own, and what can we be number one at?” she said. “What we’re really trying to own is where we can be number one, and that’s best-in-class partnerships, best-in-class content, best-in-class players, and delivering them the right environment to be best in class and be successful. And those are the areas that I think we’re really focused on. As we do that, we can then evolve—and ultimately, our aspirations are to be the number one gaming and entertainment brand in the world.”

Related Article: We Are Nations CEO Says Esports Carries Every Benchmark of a Sport

For G2 Esports, the path ahead is multifaceted. Beyond supporting its teams and completing the Berlin hub, the organization plans to lean harder into behind-the-scenes and lifestyle content outside of live-streaming and competition. Additionally, as the company grows and the entertainment side of that stated aspiration becomes a larger focus, G2 may shift more attention towards streamers and influencers. However, she said that it is unlikely to overtake the company’s focus on esports and competition.

“I think we’ll always have that number-one priority of competitive teams, and ensuring that we’re fielding the right teams and putting the right players together to be successful,” said Eckhouse. “But very complementary to that are the streamers and influencers, and we’ve already added a few to our roster through Apex Legends.”


Credit: G2 Esports

That’s a fair number of initiatives for one organization to try and juggle, and Eckhouse identified prioritization as the biggest challenge of a rising company. Part of her job is to help G2—which recently closed a $17.3M USD growth funding round—focus on the opportunities that ensure that the organization grows in a focused way, rather than pursuing a wide array of whims.

“What I’m trying to do is build an infrastructure that allows us to be really focused on the right things. When I say the right things, it’s partners that deliver for us in some capacity,” she said. “I’m looking at elevating the G2 brand beyond just the gaming audience and into that lifestyle and cultural territory. I’m looking at elevating and building more revenue streams, of course, and frankly looking into helping from a cost-savings perspective as much as I can. It’s my place to help evaluate what really makes sense for us to focus on, versus what we need to push down the pipe.”

“What we’re really trying to own is where we can be number one…”

And as she takes on those new challenges for G2 Esports, Eckhouse has discovered one other key difference from traditional sports—and she’s a fan.

“Coming from traditional sports to this industry, I thought working in Olympics or the NFL or with different brand ambassadors from my time at IMG was fast-paced,” she said. “It is absolutely nothing compared to this industry. Everything just moves so, so quickly, and that is something that I didn’t necessarily expect and I wasn’t totally prepared for. But now that I’m in it, I am really reveling in it.”

Want to hear more about the intersection of esports and traditional sports? Lindsey Eckhouse will be a speaker at the HIVE esports business conference in Berlin on April 11, 2019. The first international esports business conference in Europe’s capital of esports. An unprecedented conference format featuring thought leaders of industries adjacent to esports sharing their insights. Click here to reserve your seat!


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