AEG to drive ESL’s global growth, Fox Sports exec takes the helm at MLG

Esports company ESL has entered into a partnership with sports and live entertainment firm Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) in an effort to extend its global reach, while interactive entertainment company Activision Blizzard has appointed veteran Fox Sports executive Pete Vlastelica to lead its Major League Gaming (MLG) arm.

The partnership agreement will enable ESL to use AEG’s global network of clubs, theatres, arenas and stadiums to stage esports qualifying events, tournaments and world championships.

ESL will also leverage AEG’s experience in live event production, ticketing, marketing and sponsorship to further promote and expand competitive esports around the world, while the two parties plan to develop new events and expand ESL’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Esports has reached mainstream status,” ESL executive chairman Steven Roberts said. “Our tournaments are viewed by as many, if not more spectators as traditional sports, so it is a natural progression that industry events increasingly become held at world class venues. Our partnership with AEG enables us to further improve the spectator experience and create additional, global events for audiences and partners.”

Bob Newman, president of the AEG Facilities arm of AEG, added: “Both organisations are committed to creating the best live events for fans around the world and together we will create new events that will unite the community and celebrate players, teams and leagues. As esports continues to transform the global sports landscape, our alliance will enable ESL to expand their geographic reach, optimise their operations and enhance the esports fan experience, while eliminating much of the risks associated with producing live sporting events.”

Meanwhile, Vlastelica, who most recently served as executive vice-president of digital at the Fox Sports division of US network Fox, will become president and chief executive of MLG.

Vlastelica, who is due to step into the role next month, will be tasked with expanding and enhancing the firm’s broadcast, content and distribution leadership across the global esports sector.

Speaking about the role, Vlastelica said: “I’m joining MLG because of the rare combination of massive digital scale and deep audience engagement around competitive gaming, and because there’s no better category of live streaming video content out there.”

Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard, added: “Pete is an entrepreneurial leader with a history of creating inspired content and developing new digital channels of distribution. As we continue to build MLG into the premier esports network, Pete will further our mission celebrating the accomplishments of gamers worldwide.”