How three guys turned their college dream into an esports company
Holding an esports tournament is hard work.
Each competitor needs their own separate computer running the game. When one match ends, the other has to begin soon after, so the audience doesn’t get bored.
And speaking of the audience, they depend on the tournament’s organizers to show them what’s happening. Someone has to keep track of dozens of separate player cameras to select the right perspective at the right time for the benefit of thousands of people in the room… and countless more watching online.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s a job that Hong Kong’s Cyber Games Arena has a lot of experience with.
“We’ve organized and set up esports events for about four, five years now,” said CGA co-founder and COO Kurt Li. “We have a very experienced crew and over a hundred helpers for events at this point.”
CGA is the one setting up all the player battlestations, broadcasting systems, and production equipment for the Esports and Music Festival in Hong Kong this weekend.
It’s a three day event, with current and former international champions showing off their skill in three games: League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
And this year, as part of PUBG’s debut at the esports festival, PUBG Corp. is coordinating with CGA to make sure everything goes smoothly.
It’s a win for CGA to have game developers and sponsors reaching out to them for tournaments. They want foreign gaming companies to realize Hong Kong’s esports tournaments are major, global events. But starting CGA and getting Hong Kong on the esports map was rough.
“CGA was actually my final year project for university,” cofounder Sam Wan revealed. “We wanted to give Hong Kong’s esports talents a platform. But the professor thought my revenue model wasn’t good enough, so he failed me.”
A few years after graduation, the three got bored of their digital production jobs and decided to bring Wan’s college dream to life.
It didn’t look promising at first. There was a time when they had to borrow money from family members to pay their staff. But they pushed ahead and convinced sponsors to support the first Hong Kong Esports Festival.
“That first year was all cost. It was all hands on deck for everyone in the company trying to get the festival going,” CEO Ryan Chow recalled. “Tons of staff members worked overnight setting things up all without overtime pay. It was that moment when people really helped turn things around for us.”
On top of doing shows around Asia, CGA is also taking players on site visits to other esports companies, reaching out to foreign tournaments and getting the Hong Kong teams acquainted with them.
While some esports players think Hong Kong is a bit too slow to the scene, Chow, Li and Wan think Hong Kong has the potential to be a star in competitive gaming.
“Hong Kong has all the pieces needed to host a big esports event,” said Chow. “It’s easy to get visas for the city, language-wise we cover many places. The future is bright. The forecast for esports in Hong Kong is good.”