The Influencers: Henry James of Espo


Henry James/Espo

Henry James is the founder and CEO of Espo, a fan-engagement platform for the esports world. James conceived of Espo as a way for teams and their loyal followers to connect in mutually rewarding ways.

“Over the last 10 years, as an esports fan myself, I felt that the gap in proximity between esports fans and players has been widening year on year,” James told eCentralSports in an interview last month. “Our goal with our platform is to close that gap as much as possible, and to bring the esports fan to the heart of the action.”

When we last caught up with James, Espo had partnered with three international esports organizations—F2K, GODSENT, and Team Queso. This morning, the platform announced the addition of Built By Gamers, Team BDS, and BOOM Esports to its pertnership roster.

“I feel like Espo has found the turbo button when it comes to the interest we have been receiving from a number of the most competitive and popular esports teams,” James said in a November 11 press release. “BBG, BDS and BOOM join F2K, GODSENT and Team Queso as our Team Partners. Take a closer look at these teams and you’ll see they deploy killer strategies in-game and in the board room.

“Our Team Partners support our vision to bring esports fans closer to the action and they are the pioneering teams working collaboratively with our Brand Partners to provide reward-based fan engagement.”

The first video game I ever played was…

“That would be Super Mario Land on the Nintendo Game Boy Pocket… many moons ago! That game was hard and taught me that perseverance pays. Getting skilled wasn’t just for fun back then. It was the only way to progress to the next level of the game. I’ve got some good memories playing Super Mario Land. I can even remember some exotic locations where I played the game, including a hotel-castle in the Swiss alps which seemed quite fitting for the Bowser castle mission I was trying to crack at the time!”

Why I got involved in gaming

“My two passions have always been video games and motorsport. I’ve been lucky enough to work in motorsport for the past 10 years. I’ve been hooked on esports as a fan since I came across The International in 2012. Since then, though, I felt that esports fans like me were becoming more and more disconnected from their favourite teams and players as the space grew. This problem drove me to leverage my background in developing sportstech to create Espo, a new, multi-team, fan engagement platform for the esports community with a vision to bring esports fans closer to the action like never before.”

What I do when I’m not playing

“Chances are you’ll find me working! I love my work and I wouldn’t change that. The rest of my time is spent with family and friends, or at a race track.”

My esports idol is…

100 Thieves founder Nadeshot is up there for me. He’s built a very popular brand identity with hard graft and smart strategy. I admire that a lot (and it also helps that I’m a massive Call of Duty fan). A number of other esports brands and organizations are now trying to emulate 100T.”

Where will esports be in five years?

“Esports is correlated to the health and growth of the video gaming industry. As such, I have no doubt that esports will have even more fans, spectators, tournaments, teams and sponsors than it does today. By 2025, I think we’ll see more national, regional, and international tournaments organized by game publishers, as they are the entities with the most to gain from esports. I believe the tournament franchise fees for team entries will reduce significantly as well as player earnings too. There is a lot of talk in esports today about the future of media rights. However, I don’t see esports media rights overtaking esports sponsorship revenue before 2030. Whereas by 2025 I think we’ll see a great deal of innovation in esports fan engagement with teams, players, fans, and sponsors engaging collaboratively to enhance the esports fan experience.”

Follow Henry James and Espo on Instagram and Twitter. (And while you’re at it, follow eCentralSports on Instagram and Twitter, too.)

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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