The Game Haus had the opportunity to speak with McCarty Maxwell, the Senior Event Manager for the Atlanta FaZe/Reign to discuss the work that goes on behind the scenes in preparation for CDL events and how expectations have shifted following the move from LAN to online only.
Who are you/ what is your job description/What are the qualifications for a position like yours?
McCarty Maxwell, Senior Event Manager for the Atlanta FaZe/Reign. I essentially manage all things the logistics for both teams, focused mostly on the home series events hosted in Atlanta. I also work in a player operations role managing sponsor and press obligations when necessary. The qualifications are a bit loose, but definitely need operations and event management experience, able to manage several people and relationships at the same time. You also have to be very comfortable with long hours during season.
How much on average does an event like CDL Atlanta take to set up and cost to run?
I’m sure every team’s budget is unique to their own financial situation, so I can’t speak to the other teams in the league. But for Atlanta we wanted to put on a good show for our first event, which we did. We tried not to let funding be an issue in order to provide the best experience for our fans. Our costs were significant, definitely very expensive, but worth the investment, especially since we are in the first year of building the brand.
What about the challengers league?
Challengers events are definitely much lower cost since the production is not as large. The biggest cost for the challengers event we hosted was the prize pool; we increased our prize pool to incentivize the best teams to compete. Challengers events, depending on the size, are more in the low five figures range.
How many hours does it take to setup an event?
It’s tough to say because the planning started in early December for our February event. I spent 8-10 hour days for about 12 weeks leading into the event to plan everything, but that is because I am a team of one. Other teams may have a bigger staff to take the load of one the lone event manager. In terms of physical load in, we took two days to physically set all the production in place, and then two event days.
Do you work remotely or on site directly the distributors?
I work remotely, so all planning was done via phone or email. We worked with a production company to take care of some of the specific event details.
How many people are involved with the planning and execution of the events?
Too many to count. There were a handful of decision makers involved in the planning, all filtering up to me as the event lead. But for the actual event load in and show days, there were maybe 200 people involved to make sure the event runs smoothly. Staff ranging from lighting riggers, to IT techs, to event security are involved.
What avenues do you use to advertise your events?
We tested a number of strategies. Since this was our first ever CDL event, we weren’t sure what would work, and wanted to explore all options. We did some “boots on the ground” marketing like handing out flyers at gaming stores. We used social media the most (Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter). We did some paid advertising on Facebook and billboards across Atlanta. We had some radio giveaways on a local station here. We worked with our sponsors to activate their social channels and email lists.
Do you have a system setup after the event is over for feedback on areas to improve?
We didn’t have a specific mechanism. Of course we read feedback on Twitter from fans and the league hears things from opposing teams that was relayed to us. But we mostly had internal meetings with our staff and the production company.
Do you have committees or support that will help you / support you with improving and coming up with ideas to evaluate feedback/event profits to help the industry/team grow?
The league is definitely our biggest resource for feedback and improvements. The league office has access to tons of analytics for each team, and has the staff to help each team activate in ways we wouldn’t be able to do on our own. Every team has a dedicated staff that works everyday to build the brands creatively, that’s why we all have jobs. For Atlanta specifically, we are all tasked with being creative and providing feedback to one another on how to improve and grow, that’s what sets us apart as a team.
Is there much profit in these events or do you have a calculation of how many events you have to do before you reach profit?
We are working everyday to be stable financially, but this league and each team is an investment. There are always going to be some losses in investments, especially to start out, so we have to have a long term perspective. There’s not a specific calculation of how many events we need to turn a specific profit number, we are just working to build a brand that will attractive thousands of fans every time we are in town. The ultimate goal is to sell out every event we have, no matter where its hosted.
Do you have ways to help increase your profit as events continue online?
We hope that the YouTube stream does well for the league, that only helps every team grow their brand and increases exposure for the league. Online is not ideal as teams need to host local events, in-person events is the best way to build brand awareness and to build a loyal fan base. Yet, we are all trying to make the best of the circumstances and look to grow our brand using the resources we have.
The Game Haus would like to thank McCarty for his time and thoughts put forth in this interview.
Looking forward to what the Atlanta FaZe can do for the remainder of the 2020 season!
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Featured Image Courtesy of the Atlanta Faze.
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