Today marks a new page in Canadian eSports history.
eSports Canada, a not for profit, volunteer organization which promotes all things eSports north of the border has announced the eSports Canada Alliance. Stimulating the amateur scene is a critical part of the growth of any game as an eSport, and ESC is looking to do things in a big way with this event. ESFI got an exclusive chance to speak with Ken Silva, the president of eSports Canada about this momentous achievement for his organization.
You can read the full interview below:
Hey Ken thanks for taking the time to talk to us, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, how you got into eSports, an introduction if you will?
Like most people, I have a passion for video games and spent many of my earlier year playing games with my little brother and friends. Organizing LAN’s with my family and friends was something I looked forward to and always kept track of who won the last match. In 2010 I began working on eSports Canada and in 2011 we were a federally registered NPO. After 7 years on the career path, I left my 9-5 as an asset manager to join the NASL and focus on a career in eSports.
You’ve just given a fairly huge announcement, the Esports Canada Alliance, a series of tournaments from around the country culminating in a seeding at the International eSports Federation 2013 in South Korea; can you give us any more details surrounding the event?
Sure, the best way at looking at this tournament is to break it down into 4 sections; the provincial qualifiers, provincial finals, national finals and the IeSF tournament. Allow me to provide a little more detail as to each sections significance.
The event will begin in March 2013 and span approximately 8 months. Each month we will see a different province host a LAN and CSL qualifier to find the top 4 players from that province. The top 4 will be comprised of the top 3 LAN winners and the top CSL player to create the provincial finals bracket.
The province finals will be a 4 man, Bo1, double elimination bracket with the champion moving on to the national finals.I truly believe we will show the amount passion we have for eSports and prove that we deserve better representation in the scene.
The national finals will be a 12 man bracket and here’s where things get interesting. The provincial finals champions will be randomly seeded into this bracket with the bottom two places being reserved for two community selected picks. These can be anyone from pro players that weren’t able to participate due to a busy schedule or they can be awarded to a fan favorite that truly deserves the opportunity.
Our goal is to ensure that Canada has the best candidate possible representing us in the IeSF tournament. This is the first time Canada has held an event of this magnitude and we’re a very proud people. It is a big deal for us and I truly believe we will show the amount passion we have for eSports and prove that we deserve better representation in the scene.
Will the qualifiers be completely open?
Yes, aside from the CSL provincial qualifiers, anyone is eligible to participate in the local LAN’s. It’s a great opportunity to show up for the experience of a live event and compete for one of these 3 seeds.
Do you think you will attract any big names into this tournament?
It’s our hope that there will be some professional representation, but, we understand that pro-gamers have careers and may not be available to participate due to conflicts. This is why we have reserved 2 spots for the community to select the individuals they feel would best represent Canada at IeSF. At the same time we know of a few pros that would not miss an opportunity like this to show their home town why they’re the best at what they do.
The Canadian eSports scene has been notoriously fragmented, with many different organizations holding different events all over the country, how did you manage to consolidate them into one tournament?
This project has been in the works from ESC’s inception over two years ago. Some of these LAN’s have been around for over 10 years and have over a thousand people in attendance. With the current momentum of the community behind us, this is something that the LAN organizers were very happy to participate in. Some of the organizers had even expressed to us that if this didn’t happen soon, they would’ve attempted to do the very same thing.
What challenges did you face trying to get everyone on the same page, so to speak?
The biggest challenge for us was being the new kid on the block. As the youngest entity of the ECA (eSports Canada Alliance), approaching these veteran LANs with an idea as grand as unifying the Canadian landscape required a lot of confidence. We had this confidence because we had thought through every detail. I recall what one of the LAN organizers communicated to us when we asked him to join the ECA initiative, which went something like this; if anyone else had approached us about this, we would have simply said no. ESC has proved itself to have the best interests of the community at heart and operates in a very professional manner, so…. we were in.If anyone else had approached us about this, we would have simply said no. ESC has proved itself to have the best interests of the community at heart and operates in a very professional manner, so…. we were in.
Despite working with NASL for their past season, you clearly haven’t neglected your duties as president of eSports Canada. What’s it like to finally have such a large Canadian tournament?
I cannot take the credit for the work of all the hard working people behind this. My sincere thanks goes out to all of ESC! Over the years we have had a tremendous amount of support and grown from just 3 guys in a coffee shop to over 50 dedicated hardworking members. There’s a core group of Canadian eSports heroes that have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into making this happen.(Tristan, Tony, Frank, Jon, Dave)
Is this your crowning achievement? Or is this just the beginning?
This is just the beginning, it’s a moment that myself and many other ESC supporters have dreamed of… To see it finally happen gives me nerd chills. I know with the support of the LAN organizers who have the skill and knowledge to keep this project going year in and year out; I have faith that this will be something that matures into something truly revolutionary. I’m not referring to a national league or anything like that, but I believe the potential is there…I know with the support of the LAN organizers who have the skill and knowledge to keep this project going year in and year out; I have faith that this will be something that matures into something truly revolutionary.
Has working at NASL helped or hindered your work at eSports Canada?
Absolutely helped. NASL loves Canada and have shown a lot of support. They love the community and understand how much Canada loves eSports. They saw how hot and humid our summers are and have heard tales about our brutal winters, so, its no wonder why we are a nation of gamers.
In your opinion, how important are regional tournaments like the one you’re holding?
The most beautiful thing about regional tournaments is the opportunity for amateur players to participate and grow. It provides them with the opportunity they need to make a name for themselves. I think this is vital to the development of eSports and for introducing the scene to newcomers. It will also give an opportunity for community casters and MC’s to develop a fan base and obtain some live event experience.
Regional tournaments receive considerably less attention (or to use an industry term “eyeballs”) than major tournaments, obviously, what are some ways you try to combat this?
Well, for a tournament such as this, we hope the support we receive as a nation will be something we can build on and develop in the coming years. Pride is on the line as players will fight for the opportunity to prove themselves, represent their province and hopefully represent their nation. It has all the right ingredients to bring out real emotion, not just in the players, but the fans and organizers. We will see what it’s like when a player has their entire home town standing behind them, or representing the hopes of an entire nation. I feel there will be enough interest to even possible attracts some outside viewers. Baby steps will lead to bigger steps and hopefully one day we will hit the stride that we feel we can achieve.
Many say that an amateur scene is critical to a games growth as an eSports, what’s your opinion?
Like any sports organization, there has to be a starting point. This is usually found in youth sports organizations. The leaders of tomorrow need to have channels available for them to develop and grow. It’s also important that they feel supported, where’s the motivation to strive for the next level? I truly feel that providing amateur’s with an opportunity to showcase their talent against both pro’s and semi pros alike will allow them to receive a little recognition which is key to developing the champions of tomorrow.I truly feel that providing amateur’s with an opportunity to showcase their talent against both pro’s and semi pros alike will allow them to receive a little recognition which is key to developing the champions of tomorrow.
eSports Canada is an all-volunteer, not for profit organization; is it ready to take on the logistical challenges ahead?
We’re all aware of the challenges ahead. It was something we discussed in detail and would not have moved forward with unless we had confidence as a team. Something like this is very important to Canada but also to the eSports scene as a whole.
What else is in the future for eSports Canada?
We will continue to grow and develop eSports to the best of our ability provide as much opportunity as possible for those who wish to get involved.
Thanks for your time Ken, please feel free to give any shoutouts, thank yous, etc.
Oh man, here we go… A big shout-out to everyone at ESC: The directors, managers, volunteers and supporters! Shout-out to the participating LANS: UBC, Project X, Saskgamers, All Your Base, LAN ON, LAN ETS and FFC. A big thanks to teamliquid and r/starcraft! Your support is valued and appreciated by everyone, without you guys this would not have been possible. Lastly, to my family and fiancé back home in Toronto.