eSports Pep Talk with Drekken Pownz

Drekken Augustus Pownz’s entry into the world of electronic sports – eSports – sounds sneaky when put to paper, but he was a man on a mission that ultimately paid off.

Mr. Pownz was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer several questions via email in regards to his seven-year journey, his views on the eSports scene, as well as advice for those wanting to pursue a role in the eSports scene. Pownz – who is himself a producer at Pownz eSports and owner of ESChamp – dates his origins back to 2007 when MLG Canada held an event at the (now defunct) digital festival called nDex. Originally, Drekken wanted to pursue a career as a professional Warcraft 3 player but his parents saw it as a dead end endeavor and gave him an ultimatum. “Either pick a serious career or lose their support,” Drekken confesses.

In an attempt to combat this, he chose a path in business to better grow and influence the industry he loves. When the nDex gig came around, Drekken realized that it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.  “I went and posed as an executive by simply wearing a fancy suit and putting on a confident face,” Drekken explains. This tactic helped him bypass a majority of VIP and security checkpoints. It must have been a nerve-wracking experience (as it would have been for anyone) but by looking at the positive side of the situation, one will realize that the potential for networking as well as a first-hand look into the business side of the industry were part and parcel of an opportunity not to be missed.

In the seven years since Pownz’s first foray into the world of electronic sporting events at a now-defunct nDex, he ran a LAN centre in Hamilton where he hosted a number of his first events. Even though the centre is now closed, Drekken continued to pursue his passion – running, attending events, and is now in the middle of juggling two roles as both a brand producer and broadcaster at both Pownz eSports and ESChamp respectively.

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It’s tricky to explain but Drekken breaks his two projects down like this. “Pownz eSports is a full service eSports marketing agency, providing services to brands who need experts in execution on marketing strategies in the eSports vertical.” ESChamp, on the other hand, started as a passion project last year whose primary focus is creating and broadcasting eSports events. These projects can start anywhere from two to three months ahead of a small-to-medium event to even as long as six months for larger tournaments.

Pownz does caution anyone interested in pursuing a career in this field – be it a producer, competitor, or similar role – as it is still very much “the Wild West in terms of getting paid work.” For aspiring competitors it’s key to understand that “game popularity will rise or fall due to many factors,” Drekken explains, “how much support the developers throw to their competitive community, how spectator friendly is the game, and how accessible the title is to new players.”

From his experiences in dealing with games that are part of the new “in” crowd, Drekken notes, “Starcraft has cooled down from being ‘big daddy on campus’ with League of Legends, Call of Duty and DOTA 2 taking spotlight time. The age of Halo has ended and Counter Strike: Go is the new black of FPS eSports enjoying a rising surge of popularity at major events.”  Even the likes of Super Smash Bros Melee is garnering much attention after being picked by EVO for the second year in a row.