Edge Esports is a new UK-based consultancy and tech platform aiming to help brands connect with esports and make a successful move into this space.
We sit down with founder Adam Whyte to discuss Edge Esports' plans, what they've done so far and how they hope to put an end to 'the Wild West of esports'.
Esports News UK: Please tell us about Edge Esports and why it was set up.
Adam Whyte: We connect brands to esports and gaming. We are using our 30 years of gaming, 25 years of sport and 20 years of tech experience to put an end to the wild west of esports. We have three distinct revenue streams: commercial deals, legal services and IP creation. We provide these services via our tech platform and as a consultancy.
With Edge as a platform, we use smart contracts and our legal qualifications to provide tournament operators and professional teams with automated management of payments and contracts.
And in terms of Edge as a consultancy, we leverage our relationships to publishers, industry and brands to connect gamers to teams, teams to brands, and brands to gaming as an industry.
We have helped brands like ESTARS create new IP and launch products.
You say your mission is to end the 'Wild West of esports'. Why do you feel it's a Wild West and what can you - and others - do to take it to the next level?
We didn't coin this phrase. However, we've seen it in action on numerous occassions. It's the Wild West because the market sees massive opportunity, yet the industry lacks the infrastructure and regulatory bodies to allow for safe, scalable and secure growth.
Our team has executed more than 500 player contracts and navigated more than 25 legal disputes before sports adjudication bodies like the Court of Arbitration for Sport and FIFA Disciplinary Committee.
We see esports and gaming growing rapidly. However, without the right systems, tools and professional skills, the industry will be rife with corruption and opportunitists looking to take advantage of market naivety.
After the eChampions event that you covered on your website, we knew that we needed to speed up development and continue growing our team (there are eight of us now) to help service this industry.
"We see esports and gaming growing rapidly. However, without the right systems, tools and professional skills, the industry will be rife with corruption and opportunitists looking to take advantage of market naivety."
Speaking about that eChampions event, you guys worked on this. But it had a number of problems. What happened there?
It's inexcusable that Ryan Bertrand, Luka Zak and Louis Bell hired our CEO and encouraged 16 gamers (some of them as young as 13) to come to London from around the UK as well as Germany, Denmark, and Spain, on their own coin with the promise of £10,000 prize money.
To date, nothing has been paid to the gamers, the contractors, the commentators... nobody has been paid. These individuals are now non-contactable. They have blocked all communications from anyone trying to invoice them. It's frankly disgraceful that an England footballer and his team have refused to make payment to kids who participated in their tournament.
This whole process could have been avoided with the use of Edge technology.
(Esports News UK has contacted eChampions for comment and clarification on these claims)
Adam Whyte from Edge Esports (right) with footballer and FIFA icon Adebayo Akinfenwa (left) at the eChampions event
Please tell us about the 'smart contracts' you're working on, how will they work and who will they benefit?
We can't give away all of our secret sauce and tell you how they work! We've already had people try to poach our idea and implement it without a proper understanding of the requisite legalisms and technology necessary to execute in a complicated space.
What we can say is that the contracts will manage payments for gamers, teams and leagues. We're aiming to reduce the bottom line for tournament operators whilst improving operational efficiency.
Our contracts will benefit all parties. Gamers will be presented with a tool that they can use intuitively. Teams will have access to quality legal and payment services as a fraction of the price they currently pay, reducing their bottom line, improving operational efficiency and circumventing expensive legal disputes.
Leagues will be able to manage their player registration processes and payouts. Finally, brands will be able to engage with this industry in a safe and scalable fashion.
Are you implementing these with the Digital Schoolhouse initiative? How will that work?
We are indeed working with the Digital School House to provide them with a technical solution to hosting a tournament with thousands of participants.
We love this program. It's what competitive gaming is all about: bringing people together to have fun and hang out. However, it's important that league operators understand that without the proper structure and frameworks in place, events like this will stumble.
"Our smart contracts will manage payments for gamers, teams and leagues. We're aiming to reduce the bottom line for tournament operators whilst improving operational efficiency."
You recently partnered with the Esports Company. What do you aim to achieve together and what kind of things will you be working on together?
We love the work that the esports company did on the FIFA eWorld Cup. We will aim to support them with our commercial, legal and technical skills as well as knowledge sharing of best practice.
We've loved working with the Esports Company in the last couple of months including on our podcast, #EdgeCast. Anna West did a marvellous interview with the hilarious and talented Kurt Fenech and we got some fantastic engagement with that piece.
Please tell us about your history in esports and some of the things you've worked on. You have also had Gfinity director David Yarnton join your team recently, is that correct?
Edge Esports has more than 30 years experience in gaming. Yes, our chairman David Yarnton was a director at Gfinity and started working with Nintendo since before some of our users were born!
Our CEO Adam Whyte has been an esports advisor to Ireland's largest ever esports event, represented the UK's No.1 Hearthstone Player and was the former head of esports and gaming at the Goat Agency.