Tiidal’s Charles Watson on Identifying Top Talent in Gaming

- October 24th, 2019

Tiidal CEO Charles Watson spoke to INN about how the Toronto-based firm identifies talent across different markets and influencers.

Toronto-based Tiidal Gaming is taking a niche approach to the competitive gaming industry.

Cultivating players in battle royale games such as Call of Duty and Fortnite, Tiidal is carefully analyzing and tracking key people who could join its roster to compete at top-tier levels.

In July, Lazarus Esports, the company’s esports division, won US$3.5 million at the Fortnite World Cup in New York City. The team competed against a pool of 40 million players.

Aside from seeking out high-level players, Tiidal is approaching the industry by identifying a wide cross section of audiences. It has key partnerships with NHL star Mike Modano, as well as the SheIS sports consortium, which has deals with Adidas (OTC Pink:ADDYY), TSN and the WNBA.

The company hopes to become the most culturally influential player in the competitive gaming industry.

Speaking with the Investing News Network (INN), CEO Charles Watson discussed the strategic partnerships that Tiidal is creating in esports. He also talked about how Tiidal identifies talent and about its holistic approach to the gaming industry.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Read on for more of what Watson had to say.

INN: Can you tell me about the origin of Tiidal and how you got involved in the gaming industry? 

CW: With Tiidal Gaming, we had launched with a singular focus on esports with our flagship brand Lazarus. We were always bullish on platform companies and the diversification of what we saw in terms of the gaming space.

We really wanted to set out and say that, yes, we are a leading esports and entertainment company, but we as a platform company wanted to focus in on sports entertainment and the entire holistic gaming ecosystem. It allowed us to play in multiple different areas and really look at revenue from multiple different angles within the industry.

I personally got involved a little bit over 10 years ago. Our roots were originally in Call of Duty way back in the day. I always saw gaming as a business. It was something that I knew that with technology could continue to advance. I saw the influence and power behind some of the pro players at the time, and some of the streamers and the influencers. I realized that at some point this was going to be a legitimate business.

I continued to learn about the gaming industry and continued to cross-sect my passion and my business acumen together, knowing that the industry at some point was going to be successful.

To this day, I still remember where I was, what I was doing, what I was even wearing the moment that I thought that, “Hey, this is going to be a business someday and this is absolutely going to take off in terms of esports.” I was always passionate about it.

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INN: You recently acquired Space Esports in September. How will this partnership help leverage Tiidal’s operations in competitive gaming? 

CW: Space Esports is another play within the platform company aspect for us. They’re a tournament organizer and host. If you’re looking at it from the competitive aspect, they cater towards more of the tier two, tier three, tier four competitive markets.

So not only do we get to watch and assess different competitive talent in a wide range of games, it allows us to look at different communities, different regions, different markets and then also competitive players that are in competitive teams right now.

We look at, are these players that we want to develop, are these talents that we want to work with, are these people that have interesting geographical locations or pose a unique skill set for our business?

We get multiple different points of view from working with Space. Their goal is to continue to grow their brand to work with multiple developers and publishers across the world. As a result, it indirectly and directly feeds into the competitive esports side for us.

INN: Can you tell me more about the Lazarus win at the Fortnite World Cup and how this team all came together? 

CW: The team came together with our general staff over at Lazarus. We’ve been involved in Fortnite since about a month or two after it came out in March of last year.

We’ve always had a presence in Fortnite. We signed a number of players last year. We’ve been very heavy in the battle royale market, going back to H1Z1, to PUBG and then ultimately here in terms of Fortnite as well. We’ve always had a very heavy presence in the battle royale market, and it’s something where we’d had a tremendous amount of success in every single avenue.

With Fortnite we’ve been assessing and forecasting and analyzing a wide range of players. At any given time, we’re probably assessing anywhere between 40 and 60 players. We’re tracking them, we’re seeing which ones are developing into the new meta, the new iteration of the game.

Come early Q2 of last year, we knew that the announcement for the Fortnite World Cup was coming up, we knew the format, we knew what was happening, so we had executed a larger strategy in terms of signing more players from a wide range of different regions.

We wanted to sign what we believed to be the best talent. Lo and behold, we had the number two duos team for the Fortnite World Cup and the number two solos player.

A lot of credit goes to our general manager and our talent manager and our entire team. We did a great job in terms of analyzing the talent that’s in the marketplace.

INN: Can you talk about your partnership with Mike Modano and his involvement with Tiidal? 

CW: Mike Modano acts as an advisor, and what we really love about Mike is that he applies his knowledge of what he’s done in traditional sports into the growing esports scene. He acts as a mentor to our teams. Lazarus has been very active in the NHL esports scene and Mike’s been very supportive of that strategy for engaging with those players and leagues and the teams.

INN: Lazarus partnered with SheIS in March. Can you tell me more about this partnership? 

CW: It was such a unique partnership for us. We’ve always been involved in inclusivity and female gaming, and this goes back to co-ed Call of Duty teams, co-ed H1 teams, and we’ve had a lot of women involved in the organization through the years.

SheIS is a unique partnership for us. We’re the only one in esports that has a partnership with SheIS, and we’re very thankful for that. It’s created and founded by women to empower women within sport.

When we look at our audience, women make up 30 percent of the esports audience, and there’s been a steady growth year after year over the last three years.

Forty-five percent of gamers are women in the US, and it’s a great age range of the gamers as well, which is around 18 to 35. A lot of this information was shared over with SheIS.

Obviously they’re always looking to make continual breakthroughs in what they’re doing and how they’re promoting women and empowering women. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in our industry, as in many industries.

This was just a way that we could take our CS:GO female team and our Super Smash player that’s here in Canada and really elevate what we’re doing with them in consortium and in relationship with SheIS.

They’ve been great with us. They help market and promote our teams and our players, especially when they’re competing at events or winning events or placing at a very high level. We continue to look at ways to further integrate heading into next year.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Dorothy Neufeld, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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