Anthony Muraco is the newly hired Director of Business Operations of the Overwatch League’s Vancouver Titans. Muraco was kind enough to sit down for a two-part interview with The Game Haus. Today covers the Titans and Muraco’s role with the team. Part 1 of the interview can be found here.
Let’s talk about Vancouver. Could you describe your role within the organization?
I’m the Director of Business Operations, so I’ll be in charge of overseeing the operation and management of the team, building the relationships with Blizzard personnel and the league, developing and executing marketing strategies and planning for the operations that will come to Vancouver from LA. More specifically, getting the team ready, whatever they need, for that migration from LA to the Vancouver market and playing the Homestands.
Was there something that drew you to Vancouver specifically?
I hadn’t known much about Vancouver prior to visiting and prior to this job opportunity, but I’ve always loved the Pacific Northwest. I had worked at a startup company in Portland, OR for 8 months and just fell in love with the landscape and the culture and the people. I think having the opportunity to shed my Midwest roots and experience something that’s nothing like what I’ve ever was a big draw to Vancouver. The Vancouver Canucks and the Aquilini family are just world-class organizations in regards to their professionalism and hospitality. I definitely respect and fell in love with the culture of the organization. Not to mention, I’m a big NHL fan and I always play as the Canucks in NHL. That opportunity presented itself and there’s only so many times in life where you get an opportunity like this that you can actually take due to obligations.
What is it about the OWL that is so enticing or exciting for someone in your position?
The first year of the NBA 2K League Finals they had some extra tickets to the Overwatch League Finals. I attended at Barclays Center and I had always been an Overwatch player. I play ranked every once in a while and I really enjoy the game and the universe it’s created. When I saw the atmosphere, the excitement, the Barclays Center sold out and the entire production and the reaction of the crowd was just pretty crazy to me.
How does it feel to be joining an organization that is already finding so much success, at least in the server?
That’s one of the most exciting parts, getting to join an organization just as they’re making a playoff push and are a serious contender for the championship. I think it creates a certain atmosphere and makes my job a little bit easier, especially joining an organization that’s so successful and being able to approach it from that sales point. That being said, I’m just honored and privileged to be a part of it. Clearly there’s something going well with the culture there already if they’re so successful as an expansion team especially. I think it really mimics and resonates the fact that the Canucks sports family and the Aqulilini family are so on board with esports that they’ve created a great culture. Especially with all these franchise leagues and these partners and big name investors getting involved with esports, the one thing that all the successful teams have in common is that the property is fully bought-in. Having that atmosphere and the opportunity to work in that type of organization really is a dream come true.
Is there anything you think the league could be doing better right now?
I don’t know that I have enough familiarity with the inner workings yet to answer that. I think they do a great job. The team that sells the Overwatch League as a whole is really best-in-class and I think the production standards are out of this world. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the Homestands and making sure the various arenas around the world are ready.
With the league moving to the Homestand structure for 2020, what are the goals for the Titans when it comes to local activation?
The two biggest things we’re focused on are growing both internationally and domestically in terms of a fanbase. The biggest thing with the Homestands being in Vancouver is creating an activation and an experience and a competition that’s not like the other Homestands. Really setting ourselves apart from the rest of the league is one of my goals personally and an organizational goal as well, creating one of those memorable experiences. So those that do venture to Vancouver, they understand the seriousness that the franchise is taking and creating a mesmerizing and awesome experience. It’s like gaming conventions, The first EVO wasn’t the biggest thing in the entire world, but people kept coming back because of the experience, meeting new friends and that kind of shared memory. Creating an atmosphere that people will remember and continue to come back and have a good experience is really what I’m focused on, especially for the Homestands.
It’s been announced that the Titans will host games at Rogers Arena next year. How does it feel going into a major American sports venue, an 18,000 seat arena?
It’s both a blessing and daunting at the same time because the last thing you want is to have five people in the stands and it really sticks out. That being said, I think it’s awesome. It shows the growth and the scale of the league. It shows the seriousness that the Canucks have toward this franchise. It’s the opportunity to be the best-in-class, the tier 1 esport if you will. There’d be nothing better than the feeling of every Homestand that we play being sold out at Rogers Arena. I also think my familiarity through the Mavs and the Cavs has made me very familiar with arena operations. It’s a problem that I’m looking forward to solving.
You’ve been with Cavs Legion for nearly two years. What lessons are you taking away in regards to engaging with the local fan base?
I think there’s one thing that the Cavs organization did extremely well it’s activating locally especially with the youth. The learnings over these past two years are honestly invaluable. I think focusing on young adults, children and educational systems are the keys to getting into the local market. I think a big part of that is not only offering and pushing gaming competitively but also creating STEM programs, educational systems and summer camps to actually engage with the youth instead of just marketing to the youth.
With Cavs Legion, you saw first hand the power of an established brand. How does that experience shape how you build a new brand like the Titans?
It’s awesome that I’m making this transition because one of the things we struggled with in the NBA 2K League is the IP rights and limitations in which you couldn’t really activate with NBA athletes or in the NBA arena. Those limitations do not actually exist, to my knowledge, between the NHL property and the Overwatch League property. So having the opportunity to tap into local influencers and the star power of the athletes and lean on the organization as a whole without having red tape around it is something that I think will really accelerate the growth of the overall brand.
Featured image courtesy of the Vancouver Titans.
You can also follow Bradley @shyguyow.