Nicolas Estrup, Chief Innovation Officer, BLAST shares his thoughts on the CS: GO ecosystem, BLAST’s attempts in other games, broadcast rights in esports and more. Check out this exclusive interview here.

BLAST has carved an identity and respect for itself with top quality production in CS: GO. Over the years, the tournament organizer has ventured into other titles such as Dota 2, Fortnite and Valorant as well. WE had an opportunity to speak with BLAST’s Chief Innovative Officer, Nicolas Estrup, one of the speakers at ESI London from September 5-7, 2022.

Estrup speaks about his journey in esports, how he has helped BLAST grow from a small team to a size of almost 100 right now. He highlighted how esports tournament organizers need to have a realistic view of broadcast deals and the technological strides undertaken by BLAST during the pandemic that he is most excited about. And finally he shared what he’s most excited about for BLAST as we head into a world that is emerging out of the pandemic shackles.

This article was powered by ESI London, The World’s Esports Industry Festival taking place September 5th-7th.

History in esports

Rohan Samal: Hi Nicolas, I’m happy to talk to you. Tell me about your history in esports. Where did you get started in gaming?

Nicolas Estrup: Well, so I started in esports, way back in the early days, the beginning of the 2000s. I started much like everyone else as an aspiring player. Much like many other people as well, I found out, okay, I’m not as good as my friends were. So my good friends back then, and still to this day, include people like Danny “zonic” Sørensen, the coach from Astralis. He and everyone else were just so much better than me. So I had to learn how to stay in space somehow. And that led me down an avenue of working in marketing sponsorship jobs super early and very randomly with SteelSeries.

After that, I ended up in this small Danish startup that was wanting to do games television, for a more mainstream audience, and was lacking some esports output as well. So there I learned how to film, shoot, produce and host videos.

Nicolas Estrup

And that was something I then worked on for a couple of years as a freelancer as well in my own little business, until I got full circle pulled straight back into the founding of RFRSH back then. I was the third employee through the door. In the beginning, we owned Astralis, Heroic, and a couple of other teams, and help build that out. We went into a room with only 3 or 4 people with blank whiteboards. But we knew we had booked the Royal Arena, one of the largest arenas in Denmark four months later. But we have no idea about what teams were competing. What is the format, and what does the stage look like? What is the name, we even have this event.

And that ultimately led to the creation of BLAST as it is today, back then BLAST Pro Series and now BLAST Premier and the company BLAST since our split with Astralis. And in that journey, I’ve been responsible for everything creative, everything experience and product.

The Royal Arena where BLAST regularly hosts tournaments.
The Royal Arena in Copenhagen – Home for several BLAST tournaments.

BLAST separating from RFRSH

Rohan: You mentioned that you were one of the first employees of RFSH. When BLAST started operations, the perception and rightfully so in the community was its hyphenation with Astralis and Astralis is a bigger brand at the time. How has the transition been as BLAST has weaned itself away from Astralis and created its own identity and gained a reputation mostly within the CS: GO community?

Nicolas Estrup: Right. Well, I think it’s been, it’s been quite a wild ride, as I’m sure you can imagine. I think we, we from the moment we began building BLAST, the tournament, people like myself, where it was clear that I just, I was kind of made for the role that I kind of landed in on the BLAST side, so a lot of us would find ourselves working full time on one thing over the other.

I think that the split kind of happened, probably just felt good to everyone. It was the thing that made sense. And I think, both have grown so big that it’s logical what essentially transpired.

So a lot of people working in Astralis at the time when we were one company would also spend, you know, 100% of their time there. So I think it was quite a nice release. I think for everyone when we did the split and the team was bought out. And we could all of a sudden go back to having a singular focus and purely just as a company, work towards one common goal and thing in one space or area. So that was quite nice. And there’s no bad vibes. There’s no drama about it at all. I think it’s just a natural human situation where it’s very hard dealing with two things that are a slight juxtaposition, right? In the sense that, you know, we own a team, and we own a league and the team plays in the league.

BLAST fans cheering for their favorite players at Sao Paolo
Fans celebrating their favorite team’s success at BLAST Pro Series Sao Paolo. Image Credit: BLAST.

So I think everyone who worked there knew, and it was quite obvious, we’re trying to do everything to make sure that Astralis had no advantages whatsoever. And I think you can do as much as you want. But I definitely understand the community sentiment from looking outside in and being like, well, sure you say that. But what’s the reality? So I think that the split kind of happened, probably just felt good to everyone. It was the thing that made sense. And I think, both have grown so big that it’s logical what essentially transpired. So I think, since then, it kind of just meant that we had like a refueled energy and just renewed energy, essentially, to just push harder than we’ve ever done to make BLAST as big and good as possible.

So post the split, it didn’t take many years before we thought, okay, well, we’ve kind of built something that’s quite unique. It’s gotten to a very good place in Counter Strike, how can we apply that to other games. And that essentially meant doing, you know, our first ever Dota event, doing Spike Nations which is a Valorant tournament tournament and all of that kind of snowballed, as we figure it out into today, where we’re doing all the competitive Fortnite and Premier League, etc.

But we essentially found out ‘Well hang on’ this method that we have of working creatively, technologically and apply our method of work into other games that actually works. Until then it was, you know, just an hypothesis on a piece of paper that, hey, it might actually be able to transfer over into other games, this kind of mindset we built. And we can see that it is. So I think that was a super exciting point in time, and just meant that we snowballed into doing all the games that we’re operating in today, essentially.

BLAST’s foray into Dota 2

Rohan: You speak about the Dota 2 event and blast, entered Dota 2 with the Blast bounty Hunter event. And it is a very different format but it was very exciting and brought a fresh perspective into Dota. It was fun to watch with the fans. But after that Blast has been pretty much absent from the Dota 2 scene. So what are the various obstacles that blast encountered while trying to enter and remain in the Dota 2 scene?

Nicolas Estrup: I think we kind of knew that the Dota scene would be (difficult). The Counter Strike scene wasn’t very easy to get into either, right? We had to invest a lot of money, we had to invest a lot of energy to kind of gain the position that we hold today. And I think with the Dota scene, it looked quite similar, right? It was the same type of ecosystem, same teams, and also teams that operate it the same way as, as others of whom we may not have worked with at that time.

The BLAST Bounty Hunt, BLAST's first tournament in Dota 2
BLAST used a unique format for its first Dota 2 event. Image Credit: BLAST.

And then, you know, developer in Valve, who still operate slightly differently from Counter Strike to Dota, but still have this very hands off approach in general. Maybe a bit more hands on in Dota, actually, which, which definitely was interesting to see as well. But I think the hard thing was that when we concluded the event, we had a lot of fun doing it. And I think as with all events, you sit back and like, ‘Ah, if only we had like six months more in the lead up, we could have done even crazier things’.

I think the internal evaluation just was that okay, well, to do a proper play in Dota, it would just require an equal amount of investment from a financial point of view to a energy point of view in the company as what we’ve done with the BLAST premier, right.

‘Ah, if only we had like six months more in the lead up, we could have done even crazier things’

Estrup on BLAST bounty’s different format

And I think, while we love doing that one off event, it just wasn’t really in the cards for us to begin doing another investment of the scale of what we’ve done with BLAST premier and Pro Series at the time. So I think it was just the the ambitions if we wanted to live up to them were just too great. So it was easier to park it. And, you know, it’s never ruled out, but it’s not necessarily in the immediate pipeline either.

The BLAST position in CS: GO

Rohan: I’ve followed Blast ever since they entered the CS: GO scene, and it was very exciting to see them enter Dota. When BLAST entered CS: GO, it was a scene that was very crowded. We had ESL, FaceIT, maybe even StarLadder was a bit active then. But now Blast has built its reputation, it’s grown. It’s created a circuit that stands alongside ESL and even includes teams that have won ESL tournaments in the world Finals. So are there other plans for BLAST to further enhance its position in CS: GO like in the next season with more match-days in the calendar year or changing the format?

Nicolas Estrup: Well, I think we’re constantly looking at how we can tweak things to get it to a better place. I think that’s, that’s kind of in our ethos to never stop evaluating. Never stop listening. And I think you know, we are incredibly Uh, how do you say, online when it comes to, to reading feedback threads on Reddit or just very deep, granular Twitter threads. I think we’re always listening. And that’s both publicly and of course, internally with partners that we hold.

So I think, at this point in time, I think we feel that we’re very fortunate about the position we have, the exciting stakeholders we have on board and the teams. Yes, growth would be exciting, format changes are always exciting. But we’re trying to probably enter a phase of our company now where we make slightly more smart decisions and movements, because I think we’ve come from a place where to get that position initially, we had to constantly just shift. That was one of our big USPs early on was that we were so small, that we can make a very big decision almost instantly.

Fans cheer for their favorite teams at BLAST Pro Series Sao Paolo
The Ginásio do Ibirapuera was packed with fans for BLAST Pro Series Sao Paolo. Image Credit: BLAST.

And I think with our growth, you know, we’ve bordering on 100 employees soon and wasn’t long ago, we were less less than half of that, I think we just have to move into a transition where, where we do things a bit more methodically, we maintain the ethos of what we’ve built the company on. But things like looking at how we can, you know, keep making sure that teams are interested to join our ecosystem, that will be one thing that’s a big priority.

We’re trying to probably enter a phase of our company now where we make slightly more smart decisions and movements, because I think we’ve come from a place where to get that position initially, we had to constantly just shift. That was one of our big USPs early on was that we were so small, that we can make a very big decision almost instantly.

Nicolas Estrup

Premier is clearly the crown jewel in BLAST, that’s obvious. But we still want to figure out how we can kind of maximize on entertainment, while also building value in the ecosystem. So that is very front of mind. And if that means changing the show or changing the format, then it’s something we’re always exploring. We’re also keeping stakeholders more in the loop than ever, I think we’ve moved so fast early on that we probably couldn’t do as good a job on that.

So I think now, there’s a lot more responsibility on our side and making sure that the teams are up to date, that our partners are up to date and that everyone internally understands what’s going on.  So I think that’s a big component of it as well. But I think right now, there’s no huge movements I can talk about, I think it’s more of a, we’ve reflected on the past. We’re constantly looking to do incremental gains to make everything better. Super proud of the ecosystem we’ve built, and the stakeholders who believe in that vision. So now it’s more of like a quiet building phase, if you will, more than it is doing something huge and dramatic, but still, like incredibly exciting. And I think we’ve got some good big things in the pipeline. I’m not allowed to speak on but definitely in an exciting build phase, if you will.

The more people we can get in, the more successful it gets for everyone.

Nicolas estrup on GETTING MORE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN cs: gO AND ESPORTS.

Nicolas Estrup on what separates BLAST from other tournament organizers

Rohan: You spoke about the early years of pivot for BLAST, I remember reading about blast getting all the players taking feedback, telling them it’s not going to change this season, but it’s going to change from the next season onwards. And it has. And I think that’s built goodwill for BLAST, not just among the viewers, but also of the players and teams that want to attend the Premier tournaments. So obviously, BLAST has built. It has an amazing production, it constantly gets really good feedback from the community. What do you think separates BLAST from other tournament organizers when you look at it from the inside?

Nicolas Estrup: Well, I think one of the big things is that mindset that I kind of described earlier, where we’re not me taking jabs at any other people in the space, I just think that kind of often grows into that. I think, because we came in so late, if you will, in the process where someone has been able to be in that ecosystem for five to 10 years already, right. And we’re just coming in with fresh eyes, but maybe still with quite a big esports legacy like, like what I have in my longevity in the space.

But then understanding the entertainment aspects of it and where we kind of need to take it to if we do want it all to grow. And I think that’s kind of the big question where I think when we came in to this space, there was a lot of mindset that felt a bit like, oh, well, this is how it’s always been done. And I think that kind of became especially my personal kryptonite. So if I ever heard that, I was like, great. Let’s try to figure out how we could do the opposite of that and see what happens.

Nicolas Estrup with the players of BIG before they walk out on the stage.
Estrup with BIG players before they walk on to the stage. Image Credit: BLAST.

So I think the the mindset that that we had from the start and still hold I think sets us quite apart. I think there’s this, there’s a slight mix. And now with ESL and Faceit being acquired together, I think before, I would look at our ecosystem and think, great, well Faceit are trying to be like ultra purist. It’s where you go to play their events, kind of kind of carry that theme.

ESL is within that same kind of fold of being being very much leaning towards the hardcore audience, which is all great. It’s just a choice. Right? And I think we’ve tried to see this as our personal task upon us that at least has given us to try to open up the doors more to the mainstream audience. There’s so much to be excited by and it could feel a little bit scary and I think sometimes the community shows signs of that where things may be changing too much or too quick.

But we firmly believe that we want more people, than the group of people today being excited about Counter Strike and Esports to be that in the future. The more people we can get in, the more successful it gets for everyone.

And that is essentially part of what we’re really trying to push hard on. So I think the mindset and the strategy and approach, I think it’s, it’s just quite different, you know, the, the companies that that is our immediate competitors, in the esports space are very very large or are working just a different path than we are right when it comes to that ethos and mindset. So I think it is quite a unique position to hold. And it’s clear with, you know, the business that we’re winning like Fortnite and others, getting all these new, exciting partnerships, kind of speaks to that ethos being what is at least what we believe part of the future.

Broadcast rights in esports

Rohan: That’s, that’s very interesting to hear about your mindset about how BLAST positions itself in the esports ecosystem. You spoke about the viewership and the need to grow the industry as well, not just in terms of viewership, but also the player base. But broadcaster deals in esports are, well, most of the time non-existent, or they don’t command the size of traditional sports. It has a lot to do probably with the geographic distribution of the viewers as well. But how does this affect your business model? Because you can’t simply emulate the same model as it is in traditional sports? Right, because that doesn’t work.

Nicolas Estrup: No, definitely not. And I think it’s a great question. I think when when we came into the space, and the way we still operate when it comes to broadcast deals, and how we deliver against them, was that, you know, in the beginning, a normal esport event would be, let’s just say we would have a lot of things that when you look at from an outside perspective, be like, ‘Well, hang on, how is it okay, that kind of, you know, the audio lags out on Twitch for a certain amount of time, or the game is delayed by X amount’, like things that kind of feel a little bit extreme, when you have an entertainment background.

And I think one of the things we saw was that broadcasters like comfort. And the more comfort we can give them, the more they will lean in and enjoy, you know, essentially broadcasting what we do. So from the beginning, we tried to deliver in a way that felt similar to how they would receive the Olympics, Super Bowl, Champions League, you know, build a feed structure and a delivery structure that kind of mimics that, because then, Great, that’s a huge tick off the box, right? All of a sudden, everyone at that broadcast will know, oh, we receive it just like the normal stuff. This goes here, this goes here, this department now needs to be briefed on whatever.

The BLAST stadium wears a deserted but magnanimous look before the gates open for fans.
An empty BLAST venue, before thousands of fans swarm in. Image Credit: BLAST.

So we built that out, built out a whole editorial suite of packages that they get as well. Meaning that all of a sudden, a broadcaster who might not have that much experience, had this wealth of you know, knowledge of stats of content, of graphics of design, all of a sudden, they could essentially run a show, without necessarily having tons of capabilities in the house. So I think that has kind of meant that that I think we we hold the position of being very strong in the space when it comes to partnership deals in the broadcast space, because to your point, they’re still very much lower than when Premier League sells their rights, or NBA does, or any of the big leagues out there.

From the beginning, we tried to deliver in a way that felt similar to how they would receive the Olympics, Super Bowl, Champions League, you know, build a feed structure and a delivery structure that kind of mimics that.

Nicolas estrup

And I think it will be a bit of a matter of time. But I think we’ll also see a shift in where value comes from and how. So I think if you look at things like our platform BLAST.tv, where we’re trying to build what a better viewing experience could be for an esports fan, I think it’s a good example of us trying to explore avenues of where all these financial supports could come from in a way that is still authentic. And that doesn’t assume that we can just copy paste, like you said, from traditional sports, and then lean back and wait for the numbers to go up.

So I think we’re trying to both fill out the offering to the broadcasters because they will always have very unique requirements. And we’re trying to one up what we can do there, which will hopefully excite them. And then I think it is exploring other ways of watching and what a viewer essentially is and from where and how that could ideally, you know, play into that ecosystem as well. So then that’s some of the things we’re trying to play around with.

I think broadcast rights will undoubtedly grow but we’re not delusional in the amount of time that essentially will take if that makes sense.

estrup on broadcast rights in esports

We’re obviously seeing the spaces of this right, we’re in this odd place of everything is available for free every single tournament on popular platforms where we are obviously not, you know, we’re not sleeping on a bit of money from the YouTube ads that we make, or the Twitch ads. I think everyone kind of makes that calculation.

So I think we’re just always trying to figure out well, what is then the next play? What is the next way of consuming esports content and how do we make that the best possible experience for the fans, which is where everything that we do start from, but how do we also make it a viable business, right? That is one of the big things we’re trying to tackle. So I think broadcast rights will undoubtedly grow but we’re not delusional in the amount of time that essentially will take if that makes sense.

Thoughts on a potential BLAST CS: GO Major

Rohan Samal: Yeah, because esports is a very weird landscape, right? Everyone wants everything for free, but they want the best product as well. You’ve taken on many roles and RFRSH and BLAST, now you’re the Chief Innovation Officer. And I would say you’re responsible for quite a bit of the final product at BLAST. We’ve heard about BLAST being very interested in hosting a CSGO Major. How important would you say is securing a CSGO major contract for BLAST at this moment?

Nicolas Estrup: I think the Majors are an interesting thing in itself, right? In the ecosystem, like you say. Because, you know, us and others in the calendar year, we’re all trying to create value around, you know, our properties. And we’re all trying to say that we have the most exciting storyline, and the most important storyline in the calendar. But I think everyone obviously knows that it’s very hard to compete with the majors. It’s essentially, you know, our Olympics or World Cup finals.

So I think the way we’ve always looked at it was hosting a major and being able to do one would be an incredible honor, that’s one that’s both on a personal level with the history that I of course, have in the space, but also just for everyone in the company. But I do also think going back to kind of how we’ve always tried to think a bit differently about things, I think we would need it to be in a way where we felt like, you know, it ticked all the boxes that we would potentially have.

We would never do a [CS: GO] major unless we felt like we couldn’t blow everyone you know, out of the water essentially, that is the main ambition.

On blast’s Major prospects

Because if you know us by now, then you know, it has to be special. It has to be be something where we feel like we can come in and do something that will be radically different than what had been done before. And essentially try to make the best Major ever, that would be the brief we would give ourselves if we ever were to get one.

So I think that obviously puts a lot of pressure on ourselves as well. So while I think earlier in our years, I think we would just not have had the capacity to do the Majors justice. And that is in part why it hasn’t been something that’s been big on our agenda. But I do think we’re entering into a phase of our company where that could become more relevant, and figuring out how that could essentially play out given that we’re just a bigger company, we’re scaling better. We’re better at setting up special projects, teams, etc, etc.

So it’s a different landscape for us as well, when it comes to Majors. And we know they’re important. But we would never do a major unless we felt like we couldn’t blow everyone you know, out of the water essentially, that is the main ambition. So when we feel ready for that, then you may see something for us. Until then, we’ll keep our heads low and keep working.

Rohan: I can’t really wait to watch a BLAST Major whenever you host it, because the way you describe it, it’s going to be a one on one hell of an event.

Nicolas Estrup: (laughs) I would hope so.

Rohan: So obviously the strength of blast right now is CS: GO. It’s most well known for its CSGO events – BLAST Premier. What specific structures from CS: GO esports. Would you like to see in other titles?

Nicolas Estrup: Well, I think from a purely entertainment point of view, because that is where we run into some of the biggest things when working with other games. I think we’re spoiled in Counter Strike beyond belief, which is great. It’s just how accessible the game is . You see almost every single tournament out there in Counter Strike, almost regardless of size, they figured out a way to do their own HUDS – that visual interface of the game when it’s running, they figured out to do all these different things with the API access that we get, which is the flow of data.

Essentially, I think it’s something like 30 data points that update every second, if not less. And I think it’s just an incredible amount of data we get, which means that we can do all these things, right? If it’s firing Pyro on stage automatically, or light changes in the arena automatically. All these things we can do, because Valve have given, I guess, everyone the right to be able to look inside their game and adjust some things with the data coming out.

Nicolas Estrup.

So I think that that is always the hardest thing when working with other games. It’s just that where Valve has a very hands off approach. Almost every single other developer on the planet has a slightly more tight control on that, which makes perfect sense because what they’re trying to safeguard is, of course, integrity of the game, etc, etc.

So while there’s pros and cons to both, I think one huge wish for all the developers out there would be to just be more mindful of what could esports properties who do tournaments need from an API stats data point of view to essentially make games better because I think the viewing experience and the difference in viewing experience when you just get something is quite large.

So I think we’re trying to tackle that by working with different types of software that can create things for us without necessarily needing API access. So that might be the solution for a lot of it. But I think that would be one. Apart from that, I don’t think there is, you know, huge differences.

It’s often as you can imagine, and as you probably saw with Dota 2 it’s often a lot of the same orgs in a lot of the different games. So when you look at team structures, etc, it’s not completely different. Yes, it might not be as well-defined leagues. But I think that would be the general one. It’s almost all related to the entertainment side of things. If I had like one big wish for the industry,

Rohan: I agree with you. Valve releases a lot of data for CS: GO and Dota 2, which allows orgs to create exclusive segments in theri tournaments. It gives a different perspective into the game that just happened and the various dynamics between players, teams and specific decisions in-game. BLAST has been all over the place, there’s been Lisbon, there’s been Abu Dhabi, there’s been Copenhagen. Obviously, in the future is BLAST looking to host events in other regions like North America or Asia?

Nicolas Estrup: Well, I think, if I can speak on my personal dream, and I don’t know if this will ever be financially feasible, but if we ever could do an event in Japan, Tokyo or something like that, I think I would die happy.

But that’s my personal goal. I’m sorry, I can’t promise that from a BLAST perspective, that’s just a dream I have. But no, apart from what my personal desires may be, I think we’re always trying to look at all the regions all over the world and try to figure out where we can have a positive impact on the fan base that may be there. So I think everything that you’ve mentioned, obviously, sounds interesting, and we do everything that we can to observe, you know, the ecosystem that exists and how we could potentially tap into those and what could be a need from potentially emerging markets in the entertainment offering that we essentially have.

The BLAST venue full of fans and excellent production lighting.
Image Credit: BLAST.

So I think we feel like we’re in in quite a good spot right now. Actually, I think back to the growth point, I think we’re talking now, at a time where, you know, had we talked about all these things three years ago, I would probably be laying flat trying to deliver five events at a time somewhere crazy. We’re just at a much better place as a company. So I think that scale and flexibility and just better infrastructure also means that what we did in the past, as well feel comfortable delivering anywhere in the world, I think now, more than ever, we are actually set up to deliver anywhere in the world and do it in a way where, where everyone will come out okay, from from the expense of doing that –  when we’re talking staff, etc.

If I can speak on my personal dream, and I don’t know if this will ever be financially feasible, but if we ever could do an event in Japan, Tokyo or something like that, I think I would die happy.

Estrup on his dream location for BLAST events in the future

So I think it’s an exciting time, we’re looking at a ton of different areas that we could go to, and right now just just super excited about the possibilities that are there. Also, because we’re in a world that’s opening up, right, so I think everyone is trying to slowly figure out well, hang on, we can actually go back to arenas now. And what’s that even mean? And where can we go and which places may not be as advanced in their fight with COVID, etc. So you have a super exciting time, and definitely, areas that we’re exploring and places we’re trying to grow some hopeful potential fan value in the future.

Rohan: When you spoke about Japan, the first thing that came to my mind was, there was a video of the Valorant Challengers tournament and the stadium was filled with shouting fans. It was insane. It was a sight to behold.

Nicolas Estrup: Exactly. I saw it and that was like when I saw that I was like, ‘Oh, man. Yeah, can everyone please start playing Counter Strike?’

Post-Pandemic expectations

Rohan: You did mention the pandemic. The pandemic forced many tournament organizers to change, be it the format, they had to pivot online, they had to change their systems. But now that the world is opening up, what are you personally excited the most about implementing in LAN events that you couldn’t do during the pandemic?

Nicolas Estrup: That’s an excellent question! Because I think what has been an interesting journey has been all of us you know ending up in our homes. Everyone knows that story and it’s been beaten to death by all companies, having gone through the same. But what was exciting to me by what our company did at that time was our brightest minds from like a technological point of view, product point of view, all kind of went into rooms virtually trying to figure out ‘hang on we need to try to push some boundaries here while also building for technological solutions that we can implement in the future right’.

So I think a lot of positives come out on the other side, you We talked about some automation that helped the show. And other things we ended up doing, you know, productions where we dealt with 500+ video feeds. That’s bigger than almost all sporting events out there. And that was all during a pandemic. So I think what excites me about what we learned in that period is, we’ve built some incredible tech, which now goes into our tech stack as a company. And we’re now beginning to apply that on bigger shows that we do.

Nicolas Estrup with a friend.

So I think, the advantage, the advancements that we were allowed to make, both from buying hardware at a time where nobody was interested in buying broadcast hardware, that was a pretty good time to invest in such things, and essentially, build custom code that goes into that. It just means that we have quite an incredible position now in the tech that we have, and how that will just empower a much greater show. So I think while it’s maybe a bit of an odd answer, that technological advancement, I think, is what is exciting me the most, and then just figuring out how to make events comfortable for whatever this new world we’re living in is.

And I think it seems like for most parts, we’re just going 1 to 1 back to normal, in how events are delivered. But I do still think that there’s things we should be cautious of when building shows and that, that we all might not be the same as we were before the pandemic, right. I think many choices and, and preferences have changed. And that’s an interesting new world to also be in when doing entertainment.

Rohan: I want to just dive deeper into the tech investment that you’ve spoken about. Would you say that right now, because of your investments during the pandemic into new technology, you are at a slight advantage compared to other tournament organizers?

Nicolas Estrup: Maybe? A little bit? Yeah, I don’t think that’s unfair to say, I don’t want to consider it a gamble. Because I think it was just a very, very sound business case. But I think we were fortunate in the sense that we were a small company. Most of our employees were in two different countries, but still relatively within the same time zone and area and e’d lived in the same COVID world, if you will.

Knowing what was going on in each country just meant that I think we could be quite efficient with how much we could actually build. And then I think when it comes to the investment parts, I think we just saw a unique opportunity. And that’s where we had some bright minds who constantly scour online and through companies and various deals like what could potentially be purchased, that we may need in the future, right? Because what we saw from an inbound perspective was okay, well hang on, we’re getting so many inbound requests now, because the whole world was off, right? No sports, no entertainment, everyone could just look at esports and be like, well hang on this thing over here still going on. How’s that possible?

Something that’s not very publicly known either, even though we’ve done some small press releases, but we built out this whole Amazon Music set up with Amazon, where artists were broadcasting from home, etc. 

BLAST used the pandemic time to invest in new technologies and build its tech stack

We had so much interest coming in, we helped build a whole musical circuit for Amazon. And that’s something that’s not very publicly known either, even though we’ve done some small press releases, but we built out this whole Amazon Music set up with Amazon, where artists were broadcasting from home, etc.  And I think some of the tech advancements bought that could help power stuff like that, but also ultimately help our own event broadcasts, which it did on Spike Nations Valorant, etc. It just meant that all of a sudden, we actually have probably one of one of the deepest and and most of you say in-house owned by broadcast tech stacks, if you will, when it comes to broadcast equipment, etc.

So I think we feel very, very good about the investments made there. And I would say there’s a bit of an advantage, especially now when we’re dealing with a world where all the Esports titles are ramping up, right. There’s no one that is pumping the brakes at this point. Everyone wants to get out there and, and get something cool out to out to the people. So I’m quite excited about that.

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Rohan - Content Editor

Rohan

Content Editor | Twitter: @rohan_esports | Twitch: rohan_3105

Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2 and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, have spent hours in Cities:Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Love travelling, an admirer of fine movies, writing a sci-fi novel in spare time and coding (Javascript)