We recently got the chance to speak to Gregg Baker, head of community at giffgaff to talk about their new eSports platform, the tournament they are hosting at Insomnia53 in November as well as their plans going forward.

SF-  How is the tournament going to work in terms of format? Is it double elimination, round robin or something like that?

GB – The Tournament will kick off on October 6th and that will begin a series of online league matches. After about 7 weeks we will be taking the top 8 teams from the league where they will play off to take home our £10k prize pot. Single elimination quarter and semi finals with a best of three final.

SF – As well as winning the prize money, is the outcome of winning the tournament being scouted as the next big UK League team?

GB – The immediate outcome of winning the giffgaff Legends Tournament is a place in Riots 4 Nations event. So it will get the winning team a lot of exposure and can only open doors for them.

SF – Are you planning to do any other League tournaments in the near future? Can we expect a giffgaff series?

GB – We are definitely looking at this as a long term project for us, not just one event and then forget about it. However, what the future holds will depend entirely on the appetite for certain games. If people want us to do another League of Legends event from us after this then we will happily look into doing another one. We may also look at doing genres beyond just MOBAs if it’s what people want.

LoL 4 Nations

Winners of the giffgaff Legends Tournament get an automatic spot in this UK and Ireland wide tournament.

SF – You’ve talked in your press release about giffgaff creating supplementary videos and content to ease people into eSports. Any news on when we can expect those and who might be popping up there?

GB – We are looking to kick off our first week of content on October 6th – we will be taking a look at Streaming and YouTube first, bringing blogs and videos from people at various stages of success in this area. Each week will concentrate on a different theme and hopefully appeal to all levels of interest.

SF – I imagine you’ll be streaming the tournament at Insomnia and seeing as you are trying to get more people into eSports, will you do a Beginners’/Noob Friendly stream as well as the main one?

GB – We will be doing a weekly live stream starting from October 15th, featuring two games from the online qualifiers every Wednesday between 19:00 and 21:00 BST until the final at Insomnia 53 where we will stream the entire day. We will also be producing a weekly round up show, hosted by Julia Hardy, every Friday from October 10th until November 28th, which will review the weeks action from the giffgaff Legends events as well as performance improving content and features.

We have discussed the possibility of running two streams side by side, allowing us to go into more depth about plays, match-ups, etc without impacting the enjoyment for the more advanced LoL players, but we are still looking into the logistics of it. However, as with everything at giffgaff, if there is a demand for this from our members we can make sure it happens.

SF – Does giffgaff plan to branch out into other games? Can we expect possible DOTA 2, Starcraft 2, CS:GO or other tournaments in the future or are you sticking with League for now?

GB – We have begun discussions on what is next for us. League of Legends is an amazing one to kick off with and we love working with the guys at Riot, but that does not mean League will be our only game. We have discussed DOTA 2, CS:GO and even Hearthstone. It all depends on what demand we get and what interest the publishers or developers show in working with us really.

SF – Could we possibly see giffgaff sponsoring players in the future and do you think other companies will start to follow your lead?

GB – When we sat down and thought about this project, sponsorship came up and it just felt like the easy way out. We could contact a top team and give them a pot of cash for our logo to appear on their arm and it just didnt feel like the sort of thing giffgaff should be doing. Instead, we can take that pot of cash and invest it into the UK eSports scene, grow awareness of it, bring more people into it and have it taken more seriously. We are very committed to doing things better and making a genuine difference and this just felt like the right thing to do. As the project develops then who knows what the next step could be, it would be amazing for us to support people to make the jump as a pro, and that could be sponsorship or it could be helping them raise their profile to attract sponsors.

As for other companies following our lead, we are not the first company to get involved in eSports and we definitely wont be the last. However, I do think what we are doing is truly different and I am not sure how many companies would want to take on a project like this.

SF – Where can fledgling pros go to sign up and learn more about giffgaff’s eSports platform?

GB – They should head on over to eSports.giffgaff.com, this will be our eSports portal and everything we do will be featured here.

It was great to talk to Gregg and hear about a well-known company make a leap into the world of eSports. Remember to check the giffgaff eSports page to sign up for the tournament and check out the video below to find out more about the platform.