With Scott Orn

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Matt Gunnin of Esports One - Computer Vision Powered Esports Audience Experience

Posted on: 05/02/2018

Matt Gunnin

Matt Gunnin

Founder & CEO - Esports One

Matt Gunnin of Esports One - Podcast Summary

Matt Gunnin of Esports One explains the Esports phenomenon and how his company’s computer vision powered audience experience makes it that much more enjoyable for viewing. Esports One allows the audience to track the pros and even learn from them. After taping the podcast, Esports One released its new Twitch Extension.

Matt Gunnin of Esports One - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, and before we get to just an excellent podcast with Matt Gunnin of Esports One, wanna give a quick shout out to That’s right, we built our own tax prep online service. It’s like Turbo Tax, but for startups. And the best part is, there are CPA’s on the backend who do the taxes. You don’t do the taxes, our CPA’s do. We have an awesome team, they’re very smart, and we love them, and guess what? They love doing taxes. So check out for online tax prep for startups. Now onto … Just, this is a really good one with Matt Gunnin of Esports One. Talk to you soon. [Music]. Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting, and my very special guest is Matt Gunnin from Esports One. Welcome, Matt.
Matt: Thank you for having me.
Scott: My pleasure. So, I’ve been excited about this. You guys … Well, maybe tell the audience how you had the idea for the company and what you guys do.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So, we’re an E sports company. So, for all of you out there who don’t know what E sports is, it’s competitive gaming where individuals and professional teams that play video games for money. In the same way that traditional sports work, you know, there’s E sports. And E sports is really catching on, it’s getting a bigger and bigger audience, and millions of fans are tuning in every day to watch people stream on Twitch, Facebook, YouTube. And so with Esports One, what our essential kind of product that is, facilitating as part of the E sports industry is built around how we can essentially layer the separation between viewer and broadcast. And we do that through live stats, we do that through better storytelling, of information that’s occurring during a broadcast. And so when you … In the same form of how when you’re watching a traditional football game or a NFL game and you see that yellow first down line that’s being shown to kind of track where the team is trying to get every down and trying to progress the football, our goal in E sports is to bring that same sort of layer of engagement and to engrain our platform and our product into the overall E sports experience to better facilitate information, facilitate stats and just kind of overall improve the viewing experience for both first time people that are watching E sports for the first time and don’t have much understanding or context to long time veterans that have been watching for years.
Scott: Yeah. And for people who don’t know, like E sports is just like this humongous industry now.
Matt: Absolutely.
Scott: Amazon bought Twitch for like a billion dollars or something insane.
Matt: Yup.
Scott: That was kind of … I was kind of surprised Twitch sold so early. That’s probably like a . Yeah, exactly, right? And I don’t know if people know … There’s League of Legends, there’s all these … Like, there’ almost like the equivalent of the NBA and the NFL in E sports. Maybe you can talk about that a little bit, just to orient the audience.
Matt: Yeah. So, right now in E sports … Well, you mentioned kind of the NBA and the NFL in general, you know, they’re making a big push to get involved in this space right now. They’ve started purchasing teams. A number of NFL franchises actually have their own professional team right now that competes in League of Legends which is one of the premier E sports titles. And then there’s an Overwatch league, which is another E sports title that has a regularly kind of scheduled league that competes every … I think it’s probably four or five times a week. So, essentially, eight to ten teams from around North America, each representing different cities, are competing against one another in a seasonal event similar to how the NFL and the NBA have the regular season and then they move into a playoffs and then a championship. You have the same thing happening in Overwatch and League of Legends and a bunch of these different E sports titles that are kind of drawing the line a bit between the separation of kind of the traditional sports leagues and what an E sport league is, because how matches are being scheduled, how franchising works … You have teams actually representing different cities and having an ownership group and starting up player’s associations. And that used to not be the case. You know, a few years ago, these teams had no idea if they would even still be a part of the league for the following year. You know, they might get kicked out or they might not qualify. But recently, E sports has added in a franchising system. A lot of the different E sports titles have added in franchising, which basically secures a lot more long term growth and long term opportunities in E sports, which kind of draws that connection with what we see in traditional sports.
Scott: Yeah, I love it. Now is there like … And I wanna ask a couple more questions about E sports in general and then we’ll talk about E sports one.
Matt: Sure.
Scott: Is there like a draft, or is there a farm system or an NBA D league? Like, how does it work? How do you kind of climb up the ranks to be on one of these teams?
Matt: Sure. So, there is. There’s actually, you know, there are combines that occur at the beginning of every season. That’s sort of a new addition that’s just kind of ramped up recently, but they do it at the start of the season and that’s where the teams come and they scout up and coming players. It’s a bit different than what you see with the NFL combine where you have people running 40 yard dashes and you have people seeing how high they can jump and you know, their accuracy if they’re on the ball. And this kind of combine is a bit more nerdy, but in a good way. Your goal there is you’re putting these players under stressful environments where it’s much different to … You know, you could be one of the best, say, League of Legends players in the world and be ranked number one, and can beat anyone online when you’re sitting at home. But, when you’re put in front of a live audience when you’re having to play with four other teammates and a competitive scenario, you might completely be a different player and you might completely drop off the rankings and you might not even be the same person any more, and so the goal of these combines that they’re starting to implement as part of, prior to the preseason is to kind of put the players through that regimen of seeing if they’re able to take that next step professionally. Because these players are being paid millions of dollars to compete, and they’re being watched by millions of fans, so if you’re going to contract these individuals to multi year, multi million dollar contracts, you wanna scout them. There’s kind of an established, player based, professional player base that’s kind of distance themselves from the others that have been around for a bit, but there’s always up and comers that are kind of coming up with new and innovative ways to kind of make their mark. And just in the same way that you see in traditional sports with rookies and up and comers, so that’s kind of where … And there’s also collegiate, and collegiate’s starting to get going, but a lot of these individuals come from … Essentially they play the game growing up and they’ve just distanced and separated themselves from the rest, and then teams will start to take note.
Scott: There was a fantastic New Yorker article about a month or two ago, which I read and loved, and that’s kind of what spurred me to want to do the podcast. Because it’s just like this fascinating … But you’re exactly right, these guys are making millions of dollars. They go … In the New Yorker article, one of the big players was in Las Vegas, and everyone knew who this guy was, and it’s like Kevin Durant or Steph Curry, you know, in popular culture. It was really neat.
Matt: Oh yeah, I mean these kids are … You should see sort of the lines that happened here in Santa Monica during … So, every weekend they put on the LCS, and that’s the League Championship Series. And it’s put on by Riot Games. They built a stadium that they put on these events and after the matches take place, the teams come outside and then they typically do player signings and photo where they’re doing signings for the fans. And the lines that you see that these players are, that the fans are lining up just to talk to or get a autograph from … I don’t think we would ever see that in traditional sports. Like I don’t think … I mean, it’s mind blowing. I mean, it’s thousands of people that are waiting just for two seconds just to interact with these professional people that … And I think that’s a big differentiator in E sports, is that the disconnect between, you know, a professional player and me as a fan, it’s much different. Like I could never envision myself being a point guard for the LA Lakers or a quarterback for the New England Patriots. But, me as a gamer? I might, I can see myself … This individual that is making millions of dollars and is one of the best players in the world, you know, he’s not much different than me. He’s just better, he’s just practiced harder, he just has more dedication or he might just have a bit of genetic ability. But there’s a much different … Like, I see my … You can see yourself as that person compared to the traditional sports.
Scott: Totally. Were you like that, like did you do before you started E sports?
Matt: No, absolutely not. I was the one that did not have any genetic ability when it came to E sports. One thing being having E sports companies, you know I tried to at least play the game. I wouldn’t be in E sports or in gaming if I didn’t enjoy the space and didn’t want to-
Scott: Yeah.
Matt: I’ve been in the space for almost a decade. So I try to continue to play games as much as I can, as much as I have time while running a company. But, I mean, using that as kind of an excuse for how bad I am right now, but I would say like when I had much more time to practice and play, I was still terrible. So, gameplay, I knew I would never be like a good player. I see how good these individuals are at the highest level, and it does … There is a separation between an average person playing a game and then a professional player and just how much better, how their mind thinks, the intelligence that they have to have, the amount of stamina and kind of just critical thinking … There’s a lot that goes into it that makes these players as good as they are and it’s … While as a fan you can see yourself, kind of put yourself in that shoes, there’s still the separation. It’s just as much a thing as it is in traditional sports.
Scott: Yeah. That’s a great synopsis. So Esports One … It seems like you’re bringing intelligence data to the Esports. Like, it helps me as a consumer enjoy it more.
Matt: Absolutely.
Scott: Is that kind of the vision?
Matt: Yeah, essentially. So, like I was mentioning, I’ve been in Esports and in this industry … I left a job as an engineer right out of college. I was an engineer for a couple of years and then ended up, long story short, starting a Esports website on the side in my off time, and then it got to the point where I was spending 40 hours at my day job and another 60 building up this website that was continually getting bigger and bigger. And at its peak we got tens of millions of monthly users. And so, I ended up leaving my engineering job. I was like, “E sports is where I’m supposed to be.” And so I’ve been in this space for probably eight, nine years at this point. And I’ve kind of … Over the years I’ve worked at a broadcasting company similar to Twitch, we were a competitor of Twitch called Zooboo, I’ve worked at a gambling company, I’ve worked with Twitch, I’ve built a number of different properties and firsthand seen what professional teams and professional broadcasters, their whole experience. I’ve ran events, ran tournaments, I’ve worked with charity organizations to put on these big broadcasts and so I know that side of the business very well. And then also, know kind of from a consumer and viewer’s perspective, what I’m looking for as an individual when it comes to these broadcasts. And so our goal with Esports One is to systematically look at E sports in such a way that our goal is to enhance the viewing experience and do that both from a broadcaster perspective but also from a viewing perspective. And if that means doing so through live stats, if that means doing so through educational explanations that tell someone what’s just happened during a big event … I mean, it’s hard for people to understand what the hell is going on during some of these .
Scott: Because it’s so fast?
Matt: It’s so fast, I mean it’s not … You can’t just pick up and start watching a League of Legends game and have any clue what’s taking place. And so … But there’s a way for us as a company to capture these events in real time and then layer in both historical statistics that relate to what’s occurring but also, educate the viewer through overlays, through kind of components that are attached to the broadcaster, surround the broadcast that they can better kind of facilitate their understanding of what’s happening. ‘Cause as a commentator, if I’m commentating a broadcast, I can’t kind of build my whole storyline to one sort of user persona, whether it’s a first time viewer or a long time fan. So we’re looking to kind of address those limitations. And we’re doing that through a number of different tools built off of statistics and data, but also by using machine learning, by using motion tracking, we have a really unique computer vision platform that can recognize a hundred thousand different data points throughout the course of a game and do so in less than a millisecond time. And we’re catching these metrics off of a stream, and then we’re layering in our own information on top of it. So it’s kind of-
Scott: That’s incredible.
Matt: It’s taking that next step for the E sports industry overall when it comes to fan and viewer engagement.
Scott: Yeah. Well I’m sure like, industry loves you because you’re kind of helping to onboard the casual fans. So like, someone like me who’s watching it can actually like understand what I’m looking at, consume it, learn, and get in the flow of things, and then probably … Do you have different feeds? Or how do you kind of segment the audience in like experts, beginners? How does that work?
Matt: Right now, what our vision for that sort of, incorporating that, is to put it in the hands of the viewer and the broadcaster and allowing them to essentially dictate what is important to them. One thing that we’ve seen is that, you know, there are obviously hardcore fans for certain teams, and maybe if you’re watching a broadcast and it includes two different teams that you have no interest in, maybe you’re more interested in just comparing how your favorite team stacks up to those two teams. And so you want comparative data that compares the gameplay that you’re watching to that of your favorite teams or your favorite players or you come on to Esports One or you come onto a Twitch broadcaster and they’re using one of our tools, and as a broadcaster or as a viewer you have no idea what’s happening and so you make the selection through Esports One that, “Hey. This is my first time watching League of Legends. I need a educational blue print,” that’s what we’re calling them, and that will essentially … As the broadcaster picks a champion, which is one of the characters that they can play during a game, it tells you more about what that champion is. It tells you what their play style is, what they’ll be doing, and then once the game starts, you’ll have objective explanations. You’ll have what the goals of the game are. When a big event happens, we’ll tell you, you know we’ll break down what just occurred during that big event so that it gives you as a viewer more understanding and more kind of capabilities to essentially customize what information’s most important to you as a fan.
Scott: I love it. Do people use it as a tool for kind of improving their own gameplay? Like are they watching the games going on and then they can go back and see what the experts are doing and then also layer … Like if I know the expert violated some of your analytics or went a different way and then all of a sudden the percentage of them winning went down, you know, like that’s a very simple way of thinking about, like was that a good or a bad move? Is that how people use it as well?
Matt: We closed around late last year so we’re still in kind of pre beta for the consumer side. So we have a small kind of user base that we’re testing right now with some of the consumer products, but our focus has been for the last couple of months directly with major partners. And we have some stuff that’s coming out in the next couple of weeks actually. But working with major partners to address some of the limitations that they’ve kind of communicated to us when it comes to how them as a broadcast kind of company, I guess you would say, using very undescriptive . So it’s more, from that end, we’re working with some of the big broadcasts to address some of their needs. But how we see, you know … We have information and stats going all the way back to 2011. We have hundreds and thousands of different data points and metrics and so our goal, one of our big kind of goals as part of our pipeline through the product development is, we want … As a fan, we want … And this just comes from my own kind of interests but also just talking to our large community that we have on discord and on our other properties … But I want to be able to come in and say, “How often does the Faker,” who’s one of the best players in the world, “How often does Faker win on X Champion when he’s playing on a Tuesday afternoon after he kills this objective and he’s competing against this person and he just lost his past two games? Like, what is his ranking there?”
Scott: Yeah.
Matt: And those sort of analytical insights that open up a whole new level of, you know, not only storytelling, but a whole ‘nother level of insight that just hasn’t been possible until recently. And so we wanna put … We want the consumers and the community to kind of dictate how they wanna use this information, and we’re just gonna be building out the tool sets to allow them to do so.
Scott: That makes so much … And then you can also see how they use it, and go that direction and enhance those services and-
Matt: Absolutely.
Scott: That’s exactly how you do it, that’s really smart.
Matt: Yep.
Scott: I love it. I’m fascinated by the … Do the pro players use your analytics or are they almost like the film room? You know, like an NFL player would … Tom Brady would go watch film on himself, right? Like are they looking at how you guys are scoring them throughout the game and their opponents? Because I think one of the cool things is you can kind of see what was happening other parts of the games and things like that through Esports One. Are they using that after hour or after the game’s over?
Matt: Absolutely. Yeah, one of the … We were part of MIT as one of our accelerators, so we got to work with really just fun and exciting kind of data scientists and data specialists that were formulating these whole new ways of how to understand the statistics behind the gameplay. And additionally, also, we’ve met with a number of kind of stats gurus from different walks of life within traditional sports both European soccer, football as well as traditional football here and to understand how they utilize the statistics that they have for their different leagues and the teams and how that better improves their insight that they’re providing to their clients. And so, after speaking a lot with them, working with the data science teams that we have now, we have already, not only approached but started working with a number of pro teams to kind of building out, like what that baseline will be.
Scott: It’s like Moneyball for the pro E sports teams, basically.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Like I mean, because we’re … You know, we want pro teams and we’re kind of trading carefully here because we don’t want to provide advanced … Because I do … The amount of stats we have stored, like it could obviously be a massive advantage depending. And so we’re coming up with ways that we can facilitate just kind of the core metrics and statistics that help individual pro players’ teams better analyze their own gameplay, not only after the fact, but more importantly, in real time. Because that’s pretty … That’s almost impossible for these teams to do. And, in between … ‘Cause how it works is like you have best of threes, best of five matches that might last 45 minutes, an hour each, and so in between matches you have five, ten, 15 minutes to prepare for the next one. And so, providing them … You know, information saying that you know, “This individual was spending too much time on this side of the map and when he was up on this side of the map, the rest of the team was fighting on the lower side of the map. And the percentage of their chance of victory shifted from being a 60% chance of winning to a 40% chance of winning at this point in time during the game.” And so they can start seeing that these are the kind of variables that they should adjust for, and kind of opening up that to the teams and then letting them essentially take that information and utilize it how they best see fit as well.
Scott: Yeah. I love it. It’s the computer vision just unlocks everything.
Matt: Absolutely.
Scott: There’s a really clear analogy in the NBA where they put the cameras on the court and they can track usage rates and they can track what plays are run and the Steph Curry, Kevin Durant pick and roll is like the best play in the NBA or whatever the Lebron alternative that is-
Matt: It all came on … I’m a huge traditional sports fan. I’m a big UFC fan. And so, I remember a whole back when watching UFC, they would have these fight metrics and you could see, you know, in real time, where punches were being thrown and you know, obviously the accuracy of the different punches, what it was doing to the fighters. Like, a lot just-
Scott: Oh wow, I didn’t think of that.
Matt: Insight that I would never imagine. I was like, you know, they’re doing this through video cameras and tracking RFID scanners and the different … And you know, we’re doing it, E sports is done all through a computer and its cords. All just, it’s all just ones and zeros.
Scott: It’s crazy.
Matt: We can easily do what they’re doing, plus so much more. And that’s how we see it is, let’s tackle and make sure we have at least the same kind of experience as traditional sports does. Because that shouldn’t be an issue overall, but then it’s time to really take the next step and just completely overhaul what the expectations are when it comes to watching these broadcasts.
Scott: It’s so cool. Congrats to you for having this idea and … It sounds like you’ve been working on it on and off for ten years.
Matt: Quite some time, yeah. It’s been a … I mean, we started the company in late 2016 and we joined our first accelerator in early 2017. But yeah, I mean this is something I kind of wanted to … We actually did do a bit of this at one of my previous, like one of the first companies I worked for in Eastports … We built these little micro sites that we have actual individuals that would sit and watch the games, and then they would just mainly enter stats in real time. And that just … And then we would just show them stats on top of the screen. And that in itself … And it required … I mean, it wasn’t scalable by any stretch of the imagination and it required, you know, extensive work during the game, but it added another layer to our cast. And the community loved it, so.
Scott: It’s the education but also entertainment aspect by getting-
Matt: Right.
Scott: It still makes so much sense. Well maybe you can tell everyone what the next … I know you alluded to this kind of partnership you’re working on, but what are the next big steps for the company? Like, what are you guys working on?
Matt: Sure, yeah. So I mean we did this past weekend, we had one of our first kind of light tests under the radar sort of deal with one of our major partners, and that went off essentially without a hitch. We had one small little bug that couldn’t distinguish between a zero and a capital O. And so, we fixed that, and got that taken care of. But, it ran perfectly. We had very, almost next to no issues. And so, our goal here is we’re gonna be running another test fairly soon. And then the next month, that will be kind of when we start showcasing it to the public and it starts really being put in front of consumers as a byproduct of the broadcast working with these different partners. But you know, our goal is to really nail the legal … And Esports One is built around League of Legends, you know, one of the largest E sports titles. And that’s kind of where our foundational application is the strongest. But our goal within the next three months is to have expanded into at least one additional title and then by the end of this year, have another two or around three to four different titles essentially covered, where we not only have the same amount of stats that we have with League, but also, have the same technological capabilities that we built around League. And so that’s kind of our trajectory, is just expansion into other games and start … Right now, I would consider us more on the B to B side. We’re working with larger partners, larger businesses, to really engrain Esports One into that overall viewing experience But, within the next couple months, we want to be able to start opening up to the broader audience and to individuals so that they can start seeing the power behind what we’ve been building for so long.
Scott: Yeah. And that intersects so well with what you’ve been saying about how we as gamers can relate to the pros in a way that maybe I can’t with Steph Curry or Kevin Durant.
Matt: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Scott: So that’s really cool. I love it. I feel like we’re having … I feel like I’m talking to one of the foundational members of the NFL 50 years ago. Like what you’re doing is so cool, and as … I’m a little older. You know, I’m like 41. So like, this is, this whole world is so fascinating to me ‘cause I played tons of games growing up, and I remember going and getting Zelda passbooks and things like that at the store. So what you’ve done is really cool and layering on the computer vision to make all this enabled is really amazing.
Matt: Yeah, it’s exciting times for E sports. Like, when I made the jump from engineering to E sports, it was still in the very early days of the space. And there was just, there was a lot of unknown. But you could still, you knew there was something there. And so, we were … The Industry … The past year has probably been the most exciting times for E sports. It’s gotten the biggest acceleration in terms of viewership. There’s more people that now know … When you say the word “E sports”, they know what it means and they don’t look at you in confusion and they don’t consider or stereotype it as people sitting in their basement playing video games. They take that next step in terms of acceptance. And that’s a big deal for the space, and that’s something we’re all very excited about. And I think that just … E sports is no longer a goal for the industry. We’re in that, that’s happening right now. Like, we are accepted as one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world right now. And it’s only, you know, we’re just within the first inning of it. There’s so much more to go, and it’s gonna be an exciting path forward.
Scott: And it’s a completely global audience, which makes it so amazing.
Matt: Absolutely. Yep.
Scott: Which is … I’m so excited for you. Well, this has been an amazing podcast. Maybe you can tell everyone where they can find Esports One and how to get ahold of you and how they can work with you.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So, if you go to just, you can sign up for our beta. We’re gonna be putting out another newsletter fairly soon, kind of just basically a little more information on where things are headed with the organization and company, where we have planned some of the releases, some things … So if you’re interested in kind of keeping up with the company, I’d highly recommend subscribing to our beta. So, You can find us on all the social media platforms. We started doing … One of our employees for some reason got these little Snapchat glasses that record video from your glasses, even though Snapchat is barely being used by anyone, he found these little glasses. And so, he just walks around and he’s just recording people constantly in the office and just recording things. And then he can post it to Instagram. So, it’s not forcing him to post it to Snapchat, so he’s posting a bunch of just weird kind of videos of us working in the office. So I definitely recommend checking us out on Instagram. There’s some stuff we’re doing there. But, yeah. Esports One. We’re all over social media and then you can connect with me at Matt at as well.
Scott: I love it. I’m so excited for you, and your true passion for the space is so evident, it’s really awesome. [Music]. Well, Matt, thanks for coming on the podcast. Everyone can check you out at Esports One. Get on the mailing list, and we’ll look like two or three weeks from now for some big announcements from you.
Matt: Awesome. Thank you Scott. I appreciate it.
Scott: Alright buddy, take care. Thank you.

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