Berlin - the perfect location to do things differently

Christopher Hana, CEO, The Esports Observer

Chris, The Esports Observer, TEO for short, is the market leader for and in... Tell me!

The Esports Observer is a data-driven B2B publication specializing in the esports market, such as the Financial Times or Bloomberg for esports. We help professionals and executives better understand the esports market so they can make the right decisions for their business. Our content focuses on the relevant issues that drive sustainable growth in the industry. Essentially, these are financial flows in the form of investments and sponsorship money, partnerships between endemic and non-endemic brands, personal details and the legal foundations for the industry. In addition, we analyze viewer numbers, prize money, partnerships, and profile people and companies active in the market. Since September 2018, we have also organized conferences such as the HIVE New York Conference (Sep 2018) and the HIVE Berlin Conference (April 2019) to promote knowledge sharing and networking within the esports industry as well as between different industries.

You call your HIVE conference: The unboring esports business conference”. What is so special about it? Why do we find topics like fashion and marketing on the agenda as well?

We have been visiting a lot of esports conferences and most of them are very similar when it comes to setup, topics, and speakers. With HIVE Berlin, we wanted to build a conference that we would want to visit ourselves. Berlin is the perfect location to do things differently. We used our unique insights to identify trends and looked at larger global industries that can realize benefits from engaging with esports. This is why we did not purely focus on esports people talking about esports, but on thought leaders from adjacent industries talking about their experience with the esports industry. We also activated these industries in an engaging way, and for example, worked with a modeling agency to have esports focused merchandise and streetwear presented in a way it deserved through fashion show elements. Some other areas included television, the music industry, marketing, and of course sports teams.

I read that your target group is young, predominantly male, intelligent, and earns above-average wages. Your main market is the USA. And yet, or perhaps because of that, your headquarters are in Berlin. Why?

The target group you are describing is the target group that brands today find difficult to reach through traditional channels such as print media and TV. But you can reach them through esports in a very targeted way. Hence the boom and the now rapid entry of large and well-known companies and brands. The work that we drive forward with TEO is aimed at C-level executives, marketing decision-makers and institutional as well as angel investors. Berlin is the European esports center. Many game developers and publishers have their offices in Berlin. Since Riot Games hosts the LEC, the European League of Legends format, in Berlin, many esports have their offices in Berlin. The location is also very suitable for all the startups and their innovative ideas, products, and services. Berlin conveys a young attitude to life and is very international - that goes very well with esports.

In what ways is the infrastructure in Berlin beneficial for a growing esports scene and what challenges will Berlin have to face as a games and esports location?

Berlin is a large global city with a vibrant start-up and tech scene. Game publishers like Riot Games organize their European league (LEC) in Berlin. Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) has an office in Berlin. Companies like Freaks 4U Gaming and investors like BITKRAFT Esports Ventures are headquartered in Berlin, too. It’s a much longer list, which eventually draws in more esports teams and talent to Berlin. Berlin has established itself as a global esports hub and it will need to maintain this position. I think one of the core challenges is war for talent, as esports and game companies compete for the same talent pool as other tech companies. Also, several other cities want to establish themselves as the capital of esports, which will drive competition. 

You took over TEO a good three years ago and turned it around. Advance Publications, one of the largest US media groups, acquired TEO in October 2018. What is your vision for TEO? Which markets and target groups do you want to win?

Most of the people who drive esports globally and locally have a personal and real interest in the industry because they used to play games themselves, like games, or just have been in the industry for a long time. Our main task and mission is to promote the sustainable growth of the industry. For this reason, we support the ecosystem as a whole and provide information and data to interested companies. We address all those who have a serious interest in exactly this sustainable growth. The TEO team is passionate about the topic. Working with Advance and the announced Leaders Group will help us fulfill our mission.


Thank you, Chris!