Introducing eSports to the gambling sector will be a key theme at EIG 2015 (Berlin Arena Halle 20-22 October). The rise of competitive platforms in eSports has seen a number of questions being asked of this contemporary industry
SBC caught up with Rahul Sood Co-Founder and CEO of Unikrn, an eSports competitive platform that plans to lead this exciting and fast growing sector. Sood details the progress of the industry, integrity factors and how gambling and eSports can find co-synergies
SBC: Hi Rahul, thanks for speaking to SBC ahead of EIG 2015… Many delegates and readers will be divided on whether eSports can be defined as a sport? Where do you stand on this debate and how important is it to eSports’ business context?
Rahul: It’s not a debate, I imagine those who are on stuck on the wrong side of the issue are on the verge of being obsolete, and they are completely out of touch with what young people are up to these days. Sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief, and spend time absorbing what’s happening around you — this is what makes good entrepreneurs great.
SBC: You are at the start of company’s journey within eSports wagering. At this early stage what values and competencies do you want your company to build upon in order to gain future growth?
Rahul: We will continue to hire people who are open minded and passionate about gaming, and who fit our team culture. I also want to stress that Unikrn is building a safe and legal destination that supports responsible betting. Responsible betting is the reason we chose to partner with Tabcorp, a company that is world renowned for their stance on sustainability and betting responsibility. We aim to deliver the best experience to our customers, so by bringing together the betting experience of Tabcorp with the gaming DNA of Unikrn we are building a very unique culture with an incredibly capable multi-disciplinary team.
SBC: As a business leader in a new wagering market, how is eSports combatting potential and current issues regarding game, product and player integrity? How should integrity factors be defined for a unique market such as Esports wagering?
Rahul: I’d recommend that people read the article from our very own Bryce Blum on how gambling can be good for eSports. As many of your readers know, if we truly want to safeguard competitive integrity, the worst thing we can do is ignore the rise of esports wagering and allow an unregulated market to thrive. Unikrn is committed to building a safe and legal ecosystem, and this includes helping to define a set of standards around eSports wagering and competitive integrity.
SBC: It is highly likely that eSports will see growing attention from established betting operators. However as a new market is eSports currently better served away from the interests of betting operators. Is the market too underdeveloped to share cross competencies?
Rahul:I’m not sure how to answer this, but I’ll tell you that I’m a big believer in building world class teams to go after big opportunities. As I said above, by combining the vast experience of Tabcorp with Unikrn’s gaming DNA I think we are well positioned for the future. We’re a very unique company in this space with a very unique culture — we’re effectively a Unicorn.
SBC: Looking ahead could eSports wagering widen the sports betting market, by introducing major gaming studios (EA, Ubisoft, Rockstar etc) to wagering on competitive gaming. Will eSports blur the lines of the betting industry?
Rahul: I think eSports can push the limits of the betting industry to new highs. We’re already working on some amazing technology at Unikrn that enables us to open live betting markets in real time. Our new website is a taste of what’s to come, but what’s running behind the scenes is an absolute work of art.
SBC: AT EIG 2015, you will be presenting to many delegates who will have limited knowledge regarding your market. What do you want them to take away from your speaker sessions?
Rahul: I’m hoping people walk away inspired. I was once at the cutting edge of gaming with my previous company Voodoo – I only realized how big eSports became after spending more time with my kids. eSports is the invisible billion dollar industry that Unikrn is lucky to be a part of.
Rahul Sood – CEO – Unikrn
EIG Program Contact: Curtis Roach – @CRclarion