MLG Co-Founder Among Those Behind New Esports Advisory Group
Major League Gaming co-Founder and former CEO Mike Sepso is launching an esports advisory shop with former IMG Global Head of Basketball Bobby Sharma and former HBO Sports President Ken Hershman. The N.Y.-based startup, Electronic Sports Group, will seek to provide high-level strategic guidance for advertisers, investors and operators new to esports. Sepso’s group has secured an alliance with Sports Media Advisors, the consultancy headed by CEO Doug Perlman, to jointly approach clients. “If I had a pick a mission for ESG, it’d be to make the bigger, traditional companies’ first step into the esports space a successful one,” Sepso said. Activision Blizzard acquired Sepso’s MLG in late '15. MLG was the largest epsorts business in North America for much of its existence as a tournament operator. After its acquisition, it became the in-house media production arm of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues, which operates the Overwatch League. Sepso was most recently a Senior VP at Activision Blizzard. Esports consulting is a trendy space, Sepso acknowledged, as marketers look longingly at gaming’s core demographic. However, despite the recent proliferation of advisory companies, Sepso said, few actually have the first-hand industry experience needed to give clients confidence. “There’s just a lack of senior-level executive talent in the esports space, both because it’s a very young thing, and as you can tell, most of the people who have gone into senior roles in the space have actually come from traditional sports leagues and broadcasters,” Sepso said. "That’s great, but they don’t bring the endemic knowledge base, so they really need that filled out." Sepso, Sharma and Hershman are the only equity partners. Hershman has been in esports since '16, when he became commissioner of the World Esports Association, an attempt by ESL and some team organizations to create a league. Sharma is new to esports.