Interview with Christoper Mitchell, Razer
We talk to the e-Sports Manager about the growth of ‘Team Razer’.
After having championed the fine art of producing crafty gaming peripherals, Razer is steadily shifting its focus on making inroads into the bursting and bustling market of e-Sports. In 2012, Razer aims to expand its ‘Team Razer’ brand – a part of its e-Sports division that incorporates professional teams, infuses them with Razer products and train and facilitate them to perform in major gaming leagues.
We speak to Christoper Mitchell, Razer’s Global e-Sports Manager, about the company’s plans both internationally and in the Middle East.
For those who do not know, could you please tell us more about Team Razer?
Team Razer is an elite group of the best professional gamers competing in popular gaming titles such as Counter-Strike, Starcraft2, League of Legends, Dota, World of Warcraft and more. Our players come from across the globe and from all walks of life. They put in countless hours of training to perfect their play in a scene where milliseconds cost titles, they are driven, unflinching, calculating machines. Kitted up with our very own professional gaming gear, they are the best and most prolific gamers the world has to offer.
Can anyone choose to be a part of Team Razer? If so, what are the requirements? Do we have to wear green at all times?
First and foremost you have to want to use our peripherals. We never believed in buying out players to change their peripheral preferences. Ultimately anyone who is using Razer peripherals is in some way part of Team Razer. To be part of our supported teams however you have to send in a sponsorship request or get in touch with us in anyway, and convince us that you have something unique to offer. Being at the top of our game and professional are two good factors, but there are many reasons for Razer to support a player: Creating game guides, streaming your entertaining practice sessions, starting an academy program, hosting small tournaments or showmatches. The possibilities are endless, as long as you can offer something that’s interesting to other gamers or even just viewers, that’s most of the job accomplished.
Other than awesome gear, how does Razer power the teams in terms of guiding them through practice sessions, and getting them into tournaments, etc?
We set some of our teams with the right practice partners from other teams, connect them to train at each other’s team houses, like you see with some of our European players practicing in the Team Slayers house in Seoul, we support them financially to make a living from their gaming and go to events to compete. We also work with major competition organizers that we’re partnered with to make sure our players are invited and have a chance to compete. For some teams we even introduce new talents, make recommendations as to what players to recruit and introduce to industry partners for potential sponsorships.
Ground Zero Gaming Café in Dubai was one of Razer’s first initiatives to expand into the eSports market, at least in the Middle East. What other plans does Razer have, locally and internationally, to get more involved?
There are various things we got in mind. We’ve continued supporting major competitions like the Intel Extreme Masters and the WorldCyberGames, added new partners like the Global StarCraft League and the IGN Pro League and are looking to continue as many partnerships as possible while potentially additional ones. We’re backing more and more professional teams and started our own content team to market our players to both competitive and casual gamer audiences. We’re working hand in hand with our PR-Team to bring star players into the spotlight of lifestyle magazines and do lobbying work to increase the acceptance of mass market and governments to support e-Sports. As for regional plans: Right now we don’t have a team from the Middle East, but the scene is emerging and we’re looking to support a promising team from the Middle East. We get loads of presentations and sponsorship requests everyday and it’s obviously not easy to set yourself apart from the competition, but if a team shows some promise and success in the Middle East region, we’d definitely be happy to fill that current gap in our team lineup.
It is well known that Razer uses feedback from professional players to improve their hardware. How much input do teams actually have?
Really varies a lot from project to project. With products that rely heavily on ergonomics like mice we tend to gather a lot more feedback than with something as simple as a mouse mat, where most characteristics like tracking, durability, etc. can be tested in a lab environment. So other than repeated validation with prototypes, we take a lot of surveys to give feedback on our current products and gather wish lists for features/characteristics in future products.
We have seen very few team-branded peripherals from Razer as compared to other hardware makers. Does Razer plan to expand its lineup and have more teams on-board?
As a matter of fact, yes. With the founding of a dedicated e-Sports team, we’re now expanding our team branded peripherals. Some of them have already been spotted in the wild. Many more to come, so we’re quite excited about that. And as seen in the last year, we’re aggressively expanding our lineup and with games like CS:GO and Dota 2 to come, there is more and more teams we’ll be adding through the course of 2012.
Any new product(s) in the pipeline?
There are plenty new products in the pipeline, but you’ll have to stay tuned for the announcements we’ll be making, but rest assured our R&D team is working around the clock to bring you more awesome Razer products.