In October, well-known World of Warcraft content creators (left to right) Esfand, Nmplol, Mizkif, Asmongold, Rich Campbell and Tips Out joined forces to form a new organisation: One True King (OTK).
Now, two months in, they’re about to host their own Race to World First Roundtable stream that aims to offer an ‘unbiased, impartial broadcast that fairly covers as many guilds as it possibly can’.
Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco speaks to Tips Out about their plans in competitive WoW, that OTK hashtag and what’s next…
How much of a focus was the competitive side of WoW when setting up OTK?
So originally when we started OTK, our frame of mind was more along the lines of a content production company. Looking at all of our friends and the people who are a part of OTK right now, we kind of view ourselves as entertainers.
And so we got into it with a more broad mindset of wanting to create awesome, entertaining events and shows for the community, and also we want to hang out with each other more. So this organisation gives us a way to combine our friendship, as well as some of our goals in terms of content production.
The way World of Warcraft kind of relates to all this is obviously a lot of us got our start in WoW and all of us love WoW. And we had already dipped our feet in the world of tournament organising.
Whether it was through Rich Campbell and Esfand and Asmongold’s dueling tournament or my CDL (Classic Dueler’s League) that I hosted, we had already kind of developed an affinity and appreciation for the World of Warcraft competitive PVP scene.
The extent to how deep we wanted to go into competitive WoW, even to this day it hasn’t really been fleshed out. We know we want to put on awesome events, awesome tournaments abd cool stuff for the community. We know we want to support this scene that has supported us for so long and we’re currently trying to navigate the extent of that commitment.
But the general rule of thumb with OTK is if the event sounds like it could be something cool, fun and exciting, then it’s something we’re likely interested in.
There’s been a rise in interest for competitive WoW over the past year or so, particularly with the Race to World Firsts in BFA and Classic WoW. What are your plans around the Race to World Firsts?
So the Race to World First is an incredible event. It’s so unique to any game and any genre out there, and over the past couple of years it’s been awesome to watch all these different guilds and organisations bring to light just how awesome competitive WoW PVE can be.
As OTK, we feel like the Race to World First is missing something. And that’s not to any fault of any organisation or any guild, it’s just the reality of any competition in its infancy period.
We feel like it’s been missing a neutral third party to really cover the event without any conflict of interest. And that’s where we see ourselves coming into coming into the fray.
We want to put on an awesome third-party unbiased, impartial broadcast that fairly covers as many guilds as we possibly can, and shines a spotlight on a lot of the lesser-known guilds in the community, so that we can expand the scope of the race and transform it from a one or two-horse competition to a 10 to 15 guild race that is more broadly viewed and more broadly appreciated by the community.
So you’re not going to be getting a guild together for World Firsts yourselves?
No, we won’t be competing ourselves. Part of that is obviously a player skill issue (laughs), you know, but also even if we were able to, we would never try to purchase a guild or buy the rights to a team. That’s not really what we’re interested in.
We’re interested in putting on awesome, cool content and events, and we see the race as an opportunity to do something a little bit different compared to what some other guilds have been doing in the past.
Will you be focusing mainly on the US for this coverage or the EU teams as well?
We’d like to be as inclusive as possible. We’ve been speaking to US, EU and Oceanic guilds, and we’re currently in the process of coordinating with some Chinese and East Asian guilds if possible. But again, the idea is to be that inclusive third party that’s able to spotlight all guilds without any kind of conflict of interest, so we can just be fair to the community and showcase a lot of these lesser-known teams to the community.
One of the big things that’s kind of hurt World of Warcraft raiding over the years is the fact that it’s very difficult to maintain a roster from tier to tier. And the reason for that is, you know, rosters historically have ranged between 20 to 40 people, and right now it’s 20 people. And the only way you can really get somebody to play 16 hours a day for two or three weeks, is to compensate them.
In the past it just hasn’t been possible. It’s not feasible for an esports org to pick up 20 to 25 raiders and pay them every tier. So we’d kind of like to change that – and the way we feel like we can contribute to changing that is by spotlighting a lot of these guilds, growing their online presence and persona, telling their story to the community and helping them grow their platform.
So that, you know, when an esports org considers entering the WoW space and they look at a guild that might not be as known, they can still see that there’s some social media presence, viewership on Twitch and people tuning in to their events, and they’ll take the risk on them.
That’s kind of how we’re looking to help. We want every guild – the top 10 or 15 guilds – to be able to compete on a fair level with any of the top guilds because they’ll be financed to do so.
What you’re doing sounds great and very fair. Now a while back there was some awkwardness between Method and Red Bull, where Method broke away from Red Bull to do their own Race to World First broadcast and different guilds were on different broadcasts. Has that made you mindful of the importance of your relationships with the different guilds, I’m guessing you’ve been talking to as many guilds as possible to get them on your broadcast?
I can’t speak to any prior events that have happened with different organisations in the community.
But in terms of us and here and now, absolutely, we have been reaching out to guilds and talking to them, seeing what we can offer them and how we can help them achieve their goals. And ultimately, you know, making sure that they’re okay with us showcasing their POVs as well in the time frames that we intend to.
So we’re definitely keeping open lines of communication with guilds and making sure that whatever we do is synced up with what everyone else has going on.
When will your show get underway and how can people tune in?
Looking forward to it. The latest Race is of course just one aspect of competitive WoW – we’ve had the Mythic Dungeon Invitationals, Arena and community events too. What’s your view on the current state of competitive WoW?
I think – fingers crossed – World of Warcraft is poised for a new renaissance.
I feel like considering the early reception of Shadowlands, which seems to be quite positive, especially with a lot of the changes made to the PVP gearing system and the new insurgence of Race to World First viewers, as well as the success of Classic WoW, I feel like World of Warcraft as a whole is kind of poised for a renaissance.
I can’t reveal too much, but based on the plans that OTK has in the future, we know there will hopefully be quite a few more third-party tournaments and, you know, quite a few more events that we have planned in the long term. We expect to see a lot more of that from the community as well.
It it one person who’s heading up esports operations at OTK or is it more of a joint effort?
So I hesitate to use the term esports, because I feel like it has a very strict connotation. For us, again it’s about putting on awesome, fun, exciting content for the community.
We feel like our previous World of Warcraft tournaments and events that we’ve hosted, whether it be Asmongold’s transmog competitions that he does regularly on stream, duelling tournaments that we’ve done in the past, or leagues like the CDL. We feel like those have already proven themselves to be fun and exciting events, and we just want to bring more of those to the WoW scene. So the emphasis is less on competitive esports and, you know, all of the baggage that comes with it, and just more in the form of putting on fun exciting tournaments.
I was going to say, can we expect more of those transmog and dueling tournaments with OTK members maybe facing off against one another?
(Laughs) What I will say is hopefully a lot of fun stuff like that will be coming from the OTK team, and a lot of stuff coming from our esports WoW team as well: Cdew, Trill, Mes and Samiyam.
We’ve got a lot of exciting stuff planned. We were born and bred in WoW, and we’ve been doing some really fun IRL stuff recently. We recently raised $275,000 for the Games For Love charity…
Congratulations on raising so much!
On the esports team, please tell us what’s next for them and any other plans you may have here.
They are a part of OTK, they are our World of Warcraft competitive esports PVP team, and they will likely be our only esports team for quite some time. We love those guys.
All of us have respected and admired Cdew, Trill, Mes and Sam for years. These are incredible players, but they’re also our friends, and we knew that if we wanted to start an organisation, we couldn’t really envision it without having those guys on board.
So we’re just happy that they’re here. We’re really excited to support them in all of their endeavors, we’re excited to cheer for them when they compete and we’re excited to put on some really cool content with those guys as well.
Will the broadcast contain the OTK members like yourself and Asmon, or will bring other guests and casters on board?
We have a couple of special guests coming on board as well, but mostly for these events – and this goes with all OTK events – we really want to preserve and radiate our genuine friendship to the audience.
So we do like preserving that kind of watch party vibe, hanging out with the guys and gals and the family, that’s very important to us too. So it’s a mix – we like to bring on our friends that may not be part of the organisation, but all in all, we really like to preserve that core identity and that core vibe.
Blizzard and WoW have come under fire from the community at times, yet BFA and Classic had some very strong numbers on Twitch. Do you think it’s peaked or can the numbers go up further in the future?
I’ve never really thought about it from that perspective. Taking into account the holistic industry view, again our focus has always been about looking at things – whether it’s a World of Warcraft tournament or a bubble soccer stream – and asking ourselves one question: Is this fun? Is it cool and is it something viewers would be interested in watching? If the answer is yes, then we will pursue it.
As far as we’re concerned with the World of Warcraft scene, do we think there are still opportunities to put on cool, fun and exciting events to watch? Absolutely.
And I do feel that once we start doing it, once somebody comes in as a catalyst, I would not be surprised if, considering the state of the game, considering Shadowlands’ positive reception and considering WoW Classic’s success, I would not be surprised if we get a burning brush fire of content, an explosion of content in the scene over the next year or two.
What are your thoughts on Shadowlands so far?
To be transparent, I haven’t had too much time to play, I’ve been very busy with the Race to World First and the work behind the scenes, but from what I’ve played so far, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised.
Those that know me know that my roots began in vanilla WoW, I’ve been playing this game since the beginning and I’m partial to the more classic approach to the game’s design.
But that being said, everything that I’ve done in Shadowlands so far in the questing portion has been incredible. I personally wasn’t expecting that.
From what I’ve heard from my friends that have been playing a lot more than I have, the reviews so far have been very positive. So I’ll tell you what, I’m excited to play a little bit more once the work lessens up a bit here.
Same here, I’ve said to my friends and my wife maybe I’ll get to play over Christmas time! Okay this is a bit of a lighthearted question. What was your response to that #OTK hashtag? Asmongold was a bit surprised when he found out about that!
I have no idea what you’re talking about, Dominic. As far as I’m concerned, OTK stands for One True King and we’ll leave it at that!
Haha! Fair enough. Is there anything else you’d like to add, or any comments you’d like to say to the community?
If there’s one thing I have to say to the community, it’s this: thank you so much to everybody for their generosity, patronage and continued support for OTK and all of our individual members over the years.
The $275,000 raised for Games For Love recently was absolutely mind-blowing. It reminded us just how incredible gaming and livestreaming can be and how much change we can induce on the world.
We at OTK, at the end of the day we’re still the same people you’ve been watching over the years. Nothing has changed except we’re all under one banner now, and we’re looking to put on awesome, awesome content and community events.
We’re not perfect. We’re just starting off. It’s been a month and a half or so, but we’re committed to putting in the time and effort and work to make this organisation everything we believe it can be and everything that we’ve heard you guys say you want it to be.
So thank you so much for putting your trust in us, we’re up to the task and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that we’re able to deliver on the all of the ideas we’ve teased on previous streams, as well as some you guys haven’t heard of yet.
Well that’s got me hyped for the future. On that note, as you say this is new, so where do you see yourselves in a few years’ time? Is there a multi-year plan here or are you going to just take it day by day?
Like I said before, we’re still the same group of people. We do have a long-term plan, but as anyone who’s streamed on Twitch or made YouTube videos knows, long-term plans are only as viable as the horizon, so you can’t really go by that too much.
So we look at things on a case-by-case basis. If we come up with an idea overnight, which has already happened, for example the Pokémon unboxing stream. That was just Mizkiff in a meeting going: ‘Oh, you know, what? Why don’t we just do this?’
Sometimes they’re the best ideas, the ones that are spontaneous.
Exactly. We want to preserve our creativity and we don’t want to restrict ourselves with all of the pomp and regality of corporate structure. But at the same time, we do want to respect formal business processes. We want to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way and you know, especially in this time and in this era of our industry.
We are taking the time and investing the time and resources to make sure we do things right. But we don’t want to restrict our creative juices to a predefined long-term plan.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.