WellPlayed Interviews: TeSPA President Tyler Rosen
by Bill Kernan
The Lone Star Clash, held at the University of Texas in Austin, was a labor of love created by the student organization, Texas E-Sports Association (TeSPA). In most regards it was a huge success and is a testament to what our community can achieve when we share a common passion, vision, and drive to create something for the StarCraft community and esports.
I’m still fairly new to the esports scene, but I’ve always been a hardcore gamer. To watch an event like the Lone Star Clash gives me hope for the future of esports and video gaming. We have a rare opportunity to watch a new sport take shape and grow into what we all hope will become a much more mainstream and widely accepted form of entertainment. It will be interesting to look back ten years from now and say, “I remember when I saw MarineKing win back-to-back MLG championships.” Do I hear threepeat?
I talked with the one of the presidents of TeSPA, Tyler Rosen, to get his take on esports, StarCraft II, and what it takes to organize and create an event like the Lone Star Clash.
WellPlayed : What is esports to you and how would you compare it to traditional sports of today?
Tyler Rosen: To me, esports is all about grassroots passion. This industry provides an excellent opportunity for anyone to get involved with something they care deeply about and be able to truly shape its progression. Because esports is so young, anything is possible, meaning the impact of small energetic groups who want to achieve something great is without limit. From my point of view, the rapid creative growth of esports is the manifestation of human ingenuity, passion, and talent. Esports allows anyone the opportunity to become ‘the hero’ because it is so accessible, both on a competitive and organizational level. Although esports is not yet as widespread as traditional sports, its growth is undeniable. The enormous amount of creative energy and pride among fans looks to be propelling esports into the mainstream spotlight.
WP: What is your vision of esports in five years, ten years?
TR: It’s hard to define a clear vision for esports because of the huge amount of creativity currently in the scene. Of course, we would all love for esports to sweep across the land and become just as popular as any other top sport, popping up on televisions and in stadiums across the country. One amazing thing about the esports community is how determined everyone is to see the scene not only succeed, but form a solid foundation for itself such that it becomes a fundamental part of daily entertainment across the globe. Since the esports industry is developing so quickly, there is no telling what it might look like in five or ten years. However, due to the incredible amount of talent, dedication, and creativity within the scene, I can say with confidence that great things are undoubtedly on the horizon.
WP: Where did your love for StarCraft II come from and is it your favorite game?
TR: My love for StarCraft II comes from the competition it fosters and the community it enables. StarCraft II has created an outlet for gaming fans all around the world to come together and enjoy what they love on many different levels. StarCraft has always held a special place in my heart because of the fun times I shared with friends and family in the original series in my childhood. The competition StarCraft offers tends to bring out the best in people, both personally through constant improvement and collectively through community involvement. The success of recent tournaments and community events exemplifies what is possible when groups come together, are motivated, and transcend traditional limits.
WP: Do you play StarCraft II, if so, what league are you in?
TR: I used to play StarCraft II a lot, but haven’t had the time to commit to playing in far too long! I play Protoss and am currently in Diamond league.
WP: How long did it take you to put the Lone Star Clash together from conception to finish?
TR: We began planning the Lone Star Clash in early November 2011, meaning we spent about five months in total refining our vision and ensuring that we had all the tools necessary to successfully achieve it. We had an amazing team of about 20 core individuals who put a huge amount of time into planning. For a couple months, most of us (who are still full-time students, mind you) dedicated over 14 hours a day into everything from sponsorship discussions and event logistics. The Lone Star Clash was truly a result of the hard work our team poured into making this possible.
WP: What was your favorite moment from the Lone Star Clash?
TR: There are so many! My favorite thing about the Lone Star Clash was seeing everything come together and work better than expected. After seeing how much our entire team sacrificed to create this awesome event, realizing that it was a success, and seeing first-hand the results of everyone’s efforts was honestly the best feeling in the world. If I had to point to a specific moment, I would have to say that one of the most rewarding feelings for me was seeing our production team’s reaction to Stephano beating Polt the first time they met in the winners bracket. Something I have always told our team is that they absolutely must have fun with what they are doing. As someone who places an extreme emphasis on creativity, it made me very proud when the production team suddenly decided to play the US national anthem and flaunt a huge waving American flag light beam immediately following Stephano’s victory. Not only did this feed a community meme and make the crowd go absolutely wild, it showed that no event was too large or too professional to simply have fun with things occasionally, especially if it creates an unexpected yet memorable experience for the fans. Seeing the looks of glee, excitement, and anticipation backstage as everyone prepared for this totally improvised moment was very special.
WP: What was the most challenging part of setting up the event?
TR: The most challenging part of setting up this event was definitely securing the funding necessary to successfully pull it off. Many sleepless nights were shared by our team throughout the planning process as we struggled to solidify sponsors for the event. Even though we had a great vision and a proven record, this event was a huge leap forward from any of our previous events, which made it a risky decision for sponsors. Luckily, we eventually were able to come through and ultimately were able to reward our partners’ support with exposure far beyond that which we had dreamed possible.
WP: Can you give any advice to those out there looking to create their own events?
TR: The advice I would like to offer is that nothing is truly impossible. We started from nothing just over a year and a half ago. Since then, we made it our mission to see how far we could take things. Our success with this event is nothing but a direct result of the effort our team put into making it happen. The esports community is full of passionate, talented, and dedicated people, our team being no exception. I’d like to think that we have proven that you will get out exactly what you put in. Dedicate yourself to making something amazing happen; you’ll be surprised to realize what’s possible when you try.
WP: After you graduate, do you plan on taking this experience and working for the esports industry?
TR: Esports will always be a passion of mine, regardless of where I am in life. While I’m not sure what the future holds, I am very open-minded with the possibilities and look forward to continue doing that which I love. If a team of full time students can accomplish an event like this, I think it’s safe to say that anyone can become involved with and work for esports, regardless of what else they may do.
Bill Kernan is a father, husband, and gamer (usually in that order.) He is an 8th grade math and algebra teacher living in Austin, TX and a great supporter of all things gaming. You can follow him @gamingdadtv.