With more esports organizations on the hunt to find C-level executives with digital marketing experience, Team Envy hit the mark with its new CEO Adam Rymer. Rymer will oversee an organization that has millions of dollars invested in esports fielding five teams including the Dallas Fuel and Dallas Empire which play in Blizzard’s Overwatch and the Call of Duty League, respectively. Envy is also a founding member of Flashpoint, a series of esports competitions that so far has facilitated a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league.
The former president of Nerdist and Legendary Digital Networks makes his first entry into the esports space, but tells The Esports Observer that he’s always been a gamer and has played games for years.
“I’ve been a gamer my whole life. Not at the professional level, but I grew up in a world of gaming,” Rymer said. “I remember playing Doom in college with all my friends, built a LAN in my first apartment after college so I could play Diablo with my roommates. I still play Warcraft, Hearthstone, and dabbled my hand at Fortnite.”
Having been in the gaming lifestyle culture during his time at Harvard where he graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics, Rymer believes that experience coupled with his entertainment acumen will help him understand fans–just as he was and still is a fan of gaming and esports.
“One of the things that I learned the most during my time across various entertainment businesses, whether it was music, film, or television is just how passionate fan bases are,” he said. “Getting to go down to Comic-Con and watching people engage with your brand and talent and the kind of the philosophy around what it is that you’re sharing is just so important today.”
Rymer is a true believer that making connections is the true key in creating fandom.
“We’re living in a world where experiences and a sense of connection means a lot more than just things,” Rymer said. “I think that’s a big part of what esports has, right? You look at professional, other sports, more traditional sports and yet there’s a lot of people who are fans who grew up playing back that particular sport, whether it’s soccer or football or basketball, but they also have a huge number of people who just love to watch it.”
Because of the sheer availability of traditional sports either played in a recreational league or school, just about every person has tried traditional sports at some point in their lives. Children grow up playing the sport they love and become ingrained in its culture and fandom. Gaming and esports was different as there were significant barriers to entry that are slowly being eroded because of the availability of consoles and PCs to families that could not afford such items in the past. It is because of this change, Rymer believes more people have flocked to gaming and esports.
“It’s really interesting to be in a place where more fans are starting from a place where they actually play games and that the barriers to entry for people to actually play these games alongside the professionals is closing,” he said. “Ultimately we’ll expand to people who aren’t necessarily gamers themselves in a bigger way, but I think it’s just an amazing starting place to have when you’re building an industry.”
The philosophical approach Rymer is trumpeting isn’t new, but hasn’t fully been realized yet in esports as a whole. Just as Legendary Pictures helped create hype and fandom surrounding its Batman films, Rymer wants to create that same sort of energy by engaging the community.
“While Envy has already done a lot of the heavy lifting so far, for me one of the biggest focuses for the immediate term is how do we continue to kind of build that brand? How do we build a bigger community and offer our fans more opportunities to interact and connect across the board, whether that’s video content, merchandise, or other ways,” Rymer said. “I want our fans to feel like they’re part of Team Envy, especially in the local market, and ultimately expanding to a more well-known broader market as well.”
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