XDG Gaming: New name, new owner, new outlook
XDG Gaming: New name, new owner, new outlook
Former Vulcun Techbargains welcomes its new owner Marshall Alexander and team name XDG Gaming, but the changes don't stop there. We spoke with Marshall to find out more about his plans for XDG Gaming going into the 2014 season.
Q: How did you become involved in League of Legends esports?
Marshall Alexander: I’ve been a lifetime gamer. I was introduced to League of Legends at one of my previous start-ups where a couple engineers on my team had been involved with the game since beta. I didn’t watch competitively until the Season 2 World Championship. Come Season 3, what Riot was doing with League of Legends made perfect sense to me and really stood out compared to other video game titles.
Around March, I switched over from my start-up to Techbargains. When LCS Season 3 started, I was going through the interview process and it occurred to me that the audience of LCS and Techbargains were highly aligned. I had a dream at the time to get Techbargains to sponsor a team, and I was able to make that happen. Even though I was responsible for software engineering (and not marketing or business development), I led the effort to test the waters in esports.
How did you come to acquire XDG Gaming?
At the end of the season, just before Worlds, I was having a conversation with the previous owner and he had mentioned that he was thinking about selling the team to focus on his start-up. I told him on a Wednesday to keep me in the loop because I’d love to be involved. By that Friday, I told him I’d like to make an offer and see if I can make this happen. It’s definitely a dream for me. I love the idea of having esports in North America take off.
There are many other LCS teams and aspiring professional teams in the amateur scene. Why XDG?
During spring split, I was actually looking at Vulcun and one other - two teams who didn’t have many sponsors, but had tons of potential. It ended up being Vulcun largely because I got along really well with the previous owner, and I liked what he was doing with the team by having them focus on practice above all else.
It’s so obvious they were the right team to be involved with because of how well they did in the summer split. There are certainly aspects of their game we need to tighten up, but we have the skills, a solid roster, and plans to correct mistakes. Now, we can work on other things such as building out our fan base to match the team’s level of skill and success. There are a lot of things outside of the game that we want to change for Season 4 such as having more content about the team, more opportunities to interact with the community, ways for our fans to feel connected to the team through streaming and merchandise, and all sorts of things.
With the new ownership and the team name, what other changes can we expect going into the 2014 season?
As far as what fans are going to see, the key things are more access to the players via streaming and content pieces on our new website, Facebook, and so on. They’ll also see a difference in gameplay. I’m very proud with how Vulcun did last year, but XDG is going to do even better. I have a lot of confidence in our stable roster.
Internally, we do have a couple changes as well. Christina’s role will be focusing more on PR which can allow a much larger impact on the fan interaction front. We are introducing another member to the organization, Julian Collins, who is going to live with the guys and will be helping them with their day to day.
I did mention that we are building out our site. I am an app developer so we also have ideas for a number of different apps that we could potentially bring out to both improve the experience for LCS fans and bring a greater value to sponsors, which, in turn, would improve things for the players.
What influenced your decision to shift Christina to another role and bring in a new manager? What about Ken?
Ken is going to continue on as coach/analyst.
Last year, Christina was splitting her time between the manager role and taking care of fan relations. Ken on the other hand, was the only person in the house who wasn’t an active player. So in addition to his coach responsibilities, he also took on some day to day responsibilities. By bringing on Julian to be the in-house team manager, it will free up Christina to focus on our fans and Ken to focus on coaching and analysis work.
Coming into this business, what did you set out to do other than simply own a team?
Just participating in the revolution that is esports is a dream that I honestly didn’t think I would actively be able to participate in, given that I was born two decades too early.
In addition to moving esports forward generally, there are specific ways in which I want to see it evolve . I want to have a part in addressing some of the negative connotations that come with gaming and help esports and online gaming reach a broader audience.
I also want to be able to look back on this time and say that I helped these guys who dedicated a significant chunk of their lives to professional gaming by setting them up for success later on. That is partly why I support BloodWater in going through his schooling.
The longer term vision for the organization includes being able to assist our players in setting up college funds, getting the right connections to the industry, or whatever else will help them achieve their goals for life after pro gaming.
It’s a dream come true in a lot of ways.
Jamaica King is an esports Web Content Specialist for Riot Games and your resident fitness addict. Find her @RiotRara on Twitter.