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  • "Fighting games would benefit from a lot more coverage": X1 Esports' CEO Mark Elfenbein discusses his org, esports, and future plans
X1 Esports' Mark Elfenbein spoke to Jason Parker about his recent acquisitions and the future (Image via X1 Esports/YouTube)

"Fighting games would benefit from a lot more coverage": X1 Esports' CEO Mark Elfenbein discusses his org, esports, and future plans

X1 Esports has been making major moves in the world of esports and gaming, as they have recently made two huge acquisitions. They acquired gamer influencer management firm Tyrus and ShiftRLE, which is a news outlet for Rocket League.

In a recent interaction with Sportskeeda’s Jason Parker, X1 Esports' CEO Mark Elfenbein discussed the acquisations, the games that need could use more coverage, and more.

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X1 Esports’ Mark Elfenbein explains what his org represents

Q. First of all, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. For those who aren't familiar, how would you describe X1 Esports?

Elfenbein: X1 is a diversified video games and creator economy holding company that owns assets in esports, video game online media, and influencer talent management services. X1 is a public company on the Canadian Securities Exchange trading under the symbol CSE: XONE


Q. What brought you to the esports field with X1? What inspired this move?

Elfenbein: I had previously been involved with and co-founded one of the original Esports / pay to play gaming companies called Fun Technologies, which was a public company in Canada and traded under the symbol FUN, and was eventually sold to Liberty Media for $484M.

As the video game industry has continued to reinvent itself over the years, I see X1 effectively as a remix of FUN with updated assets and in an environment where esports is gaining a lot of global traction.


Q. X1 Esports has a variety of groups under its banner such as ShiftRLE for Rocket League news. Do you think it's beneficial for esports orgs to have dedicated news/coverage teams of their own?

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Elfenbein: We absolutely do – especially in Rocket League, which does not have a third party fan home for content such as player interviews, video highlights, fantasy sports, etc (effectively an ESPN for Rocket League, which is what we envision for Shift). Rocket League has a very large global community of 90 million monthly players.

Q. On that note though, do you worry that if a newsgroup is affiliated with an esports org, readers could accuse them of bias in their coverage?


Elfenbein: We were able to hedge off this concern on Day 1 of announcing the Shift acquisition, as Shift, who has a very loyal following, released a post outlining how they will continue to operate as an independent media outlet, but now with resources to develop other initiatives such as its own tournaments, and more of a 360 news source.

Q. RixGG is a quickly growing esports org in Europe, and one under your banner. Why the decision to pick that group up? Were the others that were in the running?

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Elfenbein: We loved the female / marginalized gender diversity of the Rix organization as it aligns with our core values. Rix’s women’s Valorant team, called Lightning, is a top organization in Europe.

Additionally, Rix is also very strong in mobile Esports, which we have highlighted as a growth area with its Wild Rift team, which recently qualified for the global Wild Rift Championships in Singapore and is a Top 2 overall team in Europe as well.

Q. Does X1 Esports plan on recruiting other orgs to join under its banner? What is the end-game for the group?


Elfenbein: X1 is very focused on its M&A strategy. So while we will opportunistically look at other Esport teams, our focus will be on bringing on cash-generating synergistic assets that within our group can flourish to become bigger than they otherwise would have as an independent organization.

Q. X1 Esports also has Tyrus Talent Services under its portfolio, to offer management for content creators. Is this something that smaller content creators could take advantage of, or is there a specific focus for Tyrus?

Elfenbein: The creator economy now counts over 50 million global content creators who earn money off the video content they create. As it turns out, video game content happens to be the number one form of creator content.

Tyrus has a roster of 65 video game content creators that leverage Tyrus for its capability to manage all their socials (TikTok, Twitch, YouTube, etc) and as well exclusively represent them to brands who are looking to access Gen Z audiences.


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Tyrus has worked with the likes of Warner Brothers, Best Buy, Gucci, HP Omen, BMO, and many more who are looking to access these audiences and will continue to focus on video game creators, as this is a very large market.


Q. Are there any esports games you are looking at that might be sleeper hits? Games that fans aren't paying attention to but should?

Elfenbein: We are very bullish on what Rocket League has done from a global sponsorship perspective. Recently it has partnered with Nike, 7-eleven, and other large global brands, which is a great indicator to us.

Q. On esports, fighting games are an oft-overlooked genre. What are fighting games and fighting game tournaments missing to improve their popularity and growth, compared to larger, team-based esports?

Elfenbein: Fighting games are no doubt one of the most mechanically precise competitive games going. In order to be at the top level, you need to have a devout understanding of your main character, as well as an understanding of any other character that your opponent could pick. Because of this, it's created quite a niche collective of incredible players that require a very large amount of time and dedication to break into.

Fighting games in general would benefit from a lot more coverage. There's a strong association with specific titles that partners with specific cultures and scenes, so finding a way to highlight the origins of a titles fame could help construct a more widely accessible competitive culture

Q. When it comes to the orginazations under X1 Esports, what can fans look forward to? What are you guys working on at the moment?

Elfenbein: We are fresh off the closing of our two new assets, so for the short term we will be very focused on integrating the assets, teams and setting up our company goals for the next year.


With regards to Shift, we are looking forward to launching a more robust media offering for fans and with respect to Tyrus, we are looking forward to working with new global brands and signing world-class creator talent.

X1 Esports is working hard to continue growing in the world of esports, making a major impact in scenes like Rocket League.

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