To say Gfinity has gone to town with its Elite Series would be a massive understatement.
It brought in a host of respected UK esports organisations like Excel and Endpoint, mixed them with some big global names like Epsilon and EnVyUs, and added a £225,000 prize pool.
It revamped its Gfinity Arena to TV-broadcast-quality levels, with the help of production boss Amanda Lawson (who joined Gfinity from the UFC), plus the X Factor's Mark Brittain is on board to boost partnerships.
Then it signed broadcast deals with BT Sport, BBC and Eleven Sports, and will be bringing a separate Elite Series to Australia. All of this helps make the weekly Street Fighter, CSGO and Rocket League matches a real spectacle.
To find out how it transformed its Arena for TV, we interviewed Gfinity Esports CMO Justin Mier.
Esports News UK: Gfinity revamped its Arena this year, after hinting it would undergo big changes, and it looks drastically different to how it did before. Why was the studio changed in this way?
Justin Mier, Gfinity: We always want to do our part in raising the profile of esports and the UK scene in particular.
The new Gfinity Esports Arena was built bigger and bolder to deliver a standard that not only looks amazing on international broadcast, but sets a backdrop as dramatic as the gameplay itself, for our players to compete on.
The new arena is an impressive TV studio. Was that the idea? Do you think esports tournaments should be more TV friendly in general, could that help push esports forward?
Raising the profile for esports is a duty that all of us in the industry need to take part in. Our goal at Gfinity is to start a revolution in sport and entertainment. We believe that esports will follow the same path as non-professional video games in the past have, appealing to broader audiences and pushing further into the mainstream each year, so our format and arena setup is on the cutting edge to usher that in.
Our Global Head of Production, Amanda Lawson, who came to Gfinity from the UFC, helped transform MMA fighting on TV into a household accepted sport. We have similar ambitions for the Gfinity Elite Series and our broadcast friendly approach.
Please tell us about the features of the studio, including the size and any other technicalities that may be interesting.
Some things we have to keep a secret, but what we can say is the Gfinity Esports Arena is the world's most technically advanced dedicated esports studio.
The entire infrastructure is IP-based, not just from a traditional networking stand point, but also all the audio and video outputs. This allows us to truly go where our broadcast imagination take us!
How much was spent on transforming the studio?
In order to build a bespoke arena to the size and spec of this one is quite a massive investment; however, the value we have received from its appearance in the UK on BBC and BT Sport, in the US on Eleven Sport, and across the world on Twitch are worth the outlay to bring it to life.
We are always adding crazy new features to make it more captivating and even had famous graffiti artist create artwork backstage in the green room and practice room. You can see the fresh new artwork on this week's broadcast when Yasmin and Arielle interview the players in between matches!
"The Challenger Series is the easiest way to get drafted to a pro team and competing on TV at the Gfinity Esports Arena in next season's Elite Series, starting this autumn."
Justin Mier, Gfinity
Gfinity has invested a lot in the Elite Series, and has generated a lot of interest, but from a business perspective how is it generating revenues? How is it sustainable?
We believe that delighting esports fans and providing a state of the art arena for our professional players to compete in is the primary objective. Delivering on that objective and growing viewership will allow us an opportunity for commercial partnerships with brands and advertisers who want to be part of the Gfinity Elite Series.
For now, it is working quite well for us, but there is always more room for growth hence why we are excited to have Mark Brittain, formerly of the X Factor, on board to help grow our commercial partnerships.
How can more players get involved in the Elite Series?
People tell us all the time that they can easily compete against the players in the Elite Series. The good news is we have the Challenger Series open for all gamers, online, right now!
The Challenger Series is totally free and is the easiest way to get drafted to a pro team and competing on TV at the Gfinity Esports Arena in next season's Elite Series, starting this autumn. Teams drafted over 30 players from Challenger last season, so there is an opportunity out there for all players to give it a go.
You can register at out our website and start playing: www.gfinityesports.com
"Our goal at Gfinity is to start a revolution in sport and entertainment. The Gfinity Esports Arena is the world's most technically advanced dedicated esports studio."