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Speaker Spotlight: The ever-growing business of esports with Version1's Brett Diamond

PGC Digital #6 kicks off on April 19th
Speaker Spotlight: The ever-growing business of esports with Version1's Brett Diamond

2021 is now well underway and the latest Pocket Gamer Connect Digital is set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond.

PGC Digital #6 takes place from April 19th to 23rd, so to give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with some of our esteemed speakers at the show.

The conference spans five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and the return of our meeting system. For more details on PGC Digital and to book a ticket, head to the website.

For today's spotlight, we spoke with Version1 + Minnesota Røkkr COO Brett Diamond, who helped found the company back in July 2019. Before joining Version1, Diamond spent three years with the Minnesota Vikings, most recently as the director of partnership strategy and 11 seasons in the National Football League’s Events Department.

At PGC Digital #6, Diamond will be part of a panel discussing the business behind esports Tell us a bit about your company?

Brett Diamond: Version1 is a multi-property esports organisation headquartered in Eagan, Minnesota. We are proudly owned by Minnesota Vikings owners the Wilf family and entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk. Our teams include Minnesota Røkkr in the Call of Duty League, Version1 in Rocket League and Version1 in Valorant.

What does your role entail?

As the first employee of a startup, I often say that for the past 18 months my job has been to fill the next three roles we're planning to hire.

Now that we've built to a staff of over 20 amazing people, my role is to continue building on the foundation that we've built to date, continuing to hire great people, and ensuring that our staff, players and coaches have everything they need to be successful.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

Prior to entering esports, I was working with and the Minnesota Vikings. I was fascinated by the emergence of esports as a force in media and sports business, so when the opportunity came to build this organisation from the ground up I jumped at the chance.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Be open to learning from all perspectives, regardless of someone's background, prior industry, etcetera. Also, be ready to adjust to your hobby and passion becoming your job.

For some that can be a dream come true, but I have also seen people in both esports and traditional sports struggle with the reality of their day job being what once was their source of escapism.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Many outside the gaming and esports industry underestimate what went into the pivots we all had to make at the onset of the pandemic. While collectively and individually we were far better positioned than many industries to adjust to working from home and hosting remote events, those adjustments were not easy.

Esports has continued to thrive in the remote event environment due to the hard work and ingenuity of a great many people, and I'm sure the same can be said for all sectors of the gaming industry.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The proliferation of legalised sports betting in many US states will continue to have a significant impact on the esports industry and beyond.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Certainly, the industry pivoting to online events with the pandemic is first and foremost, particularly since I have only been in the industry for less than two years.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

I attend many esports specific conferences, so I am excited to be part of a conference with content beyond the esports sector and to learn from a broader group of talented professionals.

Want more?

The full conference schedule is now live on the website. In the meantime, you can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 today!