Houston Rockets hire former Team Archon CEO as director of esports development
Thumbnail image courtesy of Action Images / Getty
The Houston Rockets are looking to break into esports, and they've added former Team Archon CEO Sebastian Park to their front office to help them do it. He is the first front-office executive in an NBA organization devoted solely to esports development.
Park confirmed to theScore esports that he had been hired by the NBA franchise to help them chart a course into esports, whatever that ultimately may be.
“Nothing is off the table. We’re going to look at everything,” he told Bloomberg.
That could mean that the Houston Rockets brand may make the transition to esports directly, Park said in the Bloomberg article, or employ some other strategy. He said that the Rockets' willingness to admit what they didn't know was encouraging.
"What really drew me to the Rockets was their ability to say, ‘There are things we know, and things we don’t know. We know the esports space is valuable, now let’s take time and really figure it out,'" he told Bloomberg.
The Rockets have shown previous interest in esports. Their general manager Daryl Morey defended competitive gaming as a guest on ESPN's TrueHoop podcast, where he mentioned esports as a growth field.
"The other one I think is going to be big is obviously esports," Morey said on the podcast. "If you look at anyone under the age of 25 in there, the time they spend is heavily on competitive video games."
Los Angeles-based cosplayer Katrina Fox might be best known for her awesome depictions of characters like Katarina and Jynx from League of Legends, but the 25-year-old is also a writer for iCosplay Magazine, a non-profit magazine that celebrates the art of cosplaying.
"Cosplay is such an important thing to me because it has helped me and so many others become more confident with ourselves, make great and lasting friendships, experience a different side of life and people as well as stretch my abilities and push myself to learn more and be the best ME I can be," she wrote in her Patreon profile.
Check out some of her best cosplays below.
Norm Kelly on esports: 'It's a sport in my eyes. So I admire the guys that do it well, just as I admire guys that play football well or hockey'
Thumbnail image courtesy of Lucas Oleniuk / Toronto Star / Getty
Toronto city councillor Norm Kelly has built a sizeable Twitter following thanks to his love of hip-hop and pop culture, but the 75-year-old politician inadvertently dipped his toes into esports when he shared an image of a FaZe Clan fan messaging him "FaZe Up" on a frequent basis.
Though Kelly may not be familiar with FaZe's quick-scoping montages, he says that esports has enormous potential in Toronto. As a member of the city's Economic Development Committee, he told theScore esports he would ask staff to look into ways they can help promote esports.
"Everything at city hall starts with a reports staff, so I'm gonna ask them to do the research and come back to committee to tell us how we can play a role in growing the sport here in the city," he said.
"I mean, this is the fourth largest city in North America. And so when you're that big, when you're that important, I think it's critical that the city engage itself in trends that are beginning to emerge. We gotta be, if you can't be at the head of the curve you gotta be as close to it as possible."
Though not a city typically associated with esports, the 2016 NA LCS summer finals in Toronto managed to sell out the Air Canada Centre, home arena of the Toronto Maple Leafs, in August. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is reportedly looking to double down on esports, with the company's COO Dave Hopkinson recently telling SportTechie that the Toronto Raptors are eager to field a team in the upcoming NBA 2K eLeague.
"I think that it's really important for the city government to understand what's going on out there in the field of sports and entertainment and do its best to reinforce it and help grow it. I think the Raptors initiative is fabulous," Kelly said of the report.
Though not a gamer himself, Kelly says he has great respect for how the medium has grown, as well as for the athletes who are currently competing in esports.
"When I grew up in Toronto, it was all outdoor sports. We played baseball in the summer, football in the fall, hockey in the winter. But when I became a parent, the electronic revolution was just taking off and today, all the games that one can play electronically are amazing," he said.
"I understand what it takes to focus, to participate successfully, it's a sport in my eyes. So I admire the guys that do it well, just as I admire guys that play football well or hockey. [They've] got super talent, so I not only admire them, I'm jealous! I wish I had it too."
While he says he hasn't had the time to try his at hand at first-person shooters, the Scarborough—Agincourt councillor warns that he could be quite handy with an AWP if given the chance.
"My dad was in the RCAF during the second World War and he taught air crews how to handle small weapons, so the guys in my family have a good eye," Kelly said. "And man, I wish I had the time to participate in some of the war games, because frankly I think I would do pretty well."
No doubt, Marcelo "coldzera" David and Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev had best watch their backs.
Thumbnail image courtesy of REUTERS/Susan Vera / Action Images
Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué is entering the world of esports with a new project that looks to combine esports and football called eFootball.Pro, Piqué announced Tuesday.
Few details regarding the project have been revealed, though its website states Piqué is hiring a variety of people to "create the future of football in eSports," with open positions for competition, content creation and marketing, business and event management listed.
Piqué currently plays for FC Barcelona as a centre-back, alongside the Spanish national team.
Esports will be hitting North American roads this summer with Esports Arena Drive, a 53-foot customized truck that can transform into an esports stage in a few hours, Esports Arena announced Wednesday.
The truck, called Esports Arena Drive, will transform into an esports stage and studio in less than two hours and will include a competition stage, production facilities and a lounge, among other features.
“Esports Arena Drive will be able to connect our existing [arenas] to all regions across the country, launch nationwide tours, amplify existing esports events, and even bring esports to non-gaming events in one streamlined operation,” Paul Ward, co-founder and CEO of Esports Arena, said in a statement. “Esports Arena Drive will provide a new and unique experience to the North American esports industry.”
Ward confirmed to theScore esports that there will be no title limitations for Esports Arena Drive. Event dates and locations will be announced at a later date.
The North American truck is modeled after Big Betty, a similar truck operated in Europe by Esports Arena's sister-company ELC Gaming. That truck made its debut at gamescom 2016. The rig hosted the $25,000 Euro Esports Superstars Hearthstone tournament in December, which was won by Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk.
In 1999, Anime Expo unwittingly played host to a future star of the cosplay industry. Of course, at the time, there was no way of knowing that 17-year-old Yaya Han would go on to become one of the industry's most iconic figures nearly two decades later.
Focusing on fun and creativity, Yaya pays homage to her favorite characters in every cosplay she creates.
In 2005, Yaya took the plunge and jumped into the world of cosplay full-time, transitioning from casual cosplayer to costume commissioner as her sole source of income.
"My business has slowly, painfully, amazingly developed into a variety of branches," Yaya told Nerd Bastard's Luke Gallagher in 2014. She went on to explain how she felt uncomfortable with calling herself a "professional cosplayer" but expressed pride in how the cosplay scene had grown into an economic industry.
It's undeniable that Yaya's brand has sprouted off in many directions. With a branding deal with Jo-Ann Fabrics, her own line of accessories and a comic book series based on Yaya's electricity-manipulating original character, there is seemingly no area within cosplay that Yaya will not explore. She has also starred in several shows including Syfy's Heroes of Cosplay, and was brought on as a guest judge for season two of TBS's competition show King of the Nerds.
Like many other prominent cosplayers, Yaya has often received flak for being a "sexy cosplayer". In 2014, she admitted the growth of the cosplay community has likely allowed for more criticisms and body shaming but, in an interview with Playboy in 2015, explained that she feels confidence is key to soaring above the negativity.
"I think it is very empowering for women to be confident. I don’t believe showing skin or being sexy is objectifying a woman, I think it’s actually the opposite," Yaya told Playboy.
"That’s why I’ve never felt the need to do a gender bend, to change a male character into a female. I’m always about representing strong female characters."
Yaya's confidence shines through in every cosplay she presents. Whether it's a body-armored Batgirl or a skin-tight Psylocke, the pride she takes in her cosplays is obvious, lending an attitude that is uniquely Yaya to each of her characters.
Sometimes that confidence in her designs comes at a cost: time. In her interview with Nerd Bastards, Yaya expressed the extra difficulties in cosplays like as her Dark Elf, Banshee Queen Enira, Batgirl, Carmilla and Oruha.
"All of them had challenges such as fussy materials to sew, weird props, weird wigs, weird wings, new techniques to be learned," said Yaya, "and for all of them, I pulled multiple all-nighters to finish the project."
On her Facebook page, Yaya states that she believes cosplay is "the ultimate form of Creativity, and a sincere form of expression for fans and artists alike." Her appearances at major conventions as a featured guest and willingness to take on projects like creating an accessories line have been criticized as money-grabbing, but that is far from the truth.
Yaya speaks about her passion and love of cosplay every chance she gets. She doesn't shy away from opportunities to better the community or expand its reach, and always creates her cosplays with dedication and love of the character in mind.
One of her most recent projects allowed her to find a middle ground between her love of anime and video games: Camilla from Fire Emblem: Heroes. While her early cosplays are focused on anime and manga, where her cosplay roots lay, Yaya has switched gears and taken on more video game and comic book characters in recent years.
League of Legends has inspired several cosplays for Yaya. In her own words, Ashe's Heartseeker skin "won [her] over the minute it came out!" In 60 hours, she created everything down to the gold trimming on the costume, with help from Kamui Cosplay on the bow.
Since debuting Heartseeker Ashe in 2014, she has re-worn the cosplay several times at major conventions. Her Warring Kingdoms Katarina and Arcade Miss Fortune cosplays have also received praise and accolades.
"Cosplay is an art form, a dedicated passionate unique art form and it requires so much focus and dedication," Yaya said in her final statement to Playboy.
"I really wish people would understand that aspect more."
If you want to follow Yaya as she carves a new path for cosplay, check out her social media here: