Blazing New Trails in Esports: The Life of a Live Events Strategist

live eventsYou’ve no doubt heard many stories about the power of experience design and how it can change the trajectory of events. However, you probably haven’t heard how it can drastically change the trajectory of someone’s career. Until now.

Meet Taylor Ward.

Taylor’s story doesn’t begin like most event or meeting professionals.

During his sophomore year at Humboldt State University, Taylor started his own event technology company, Hubtag, specializing in cutting-edge experiential activation and livestream broadcast management.

Almost as if it was written for an episode of Silicon Valley, Taylor discovered one of his friends had a rich uncle who was ready and willing to invest. There was a catch though: he had to drop out of college and make Hubtag his full-time gig.

It was a tough choice, but in the end, the entrepreneurial life was calling.

“I love the startup world,” Taylor said. “I love meeting with founders and helping them struggle with some of the world’s biggest problems. There is a certain allure to creating something out of nothing.”

Fast-forward six years.

Taylor-along with Hubtag-had made a name for himself in the esports and live events market. When he was playing games like League of Legends with his friends and bought LOL accounts through sites like unranked lol accounts, he probably never thought that he would make a name for himself in this industry. His love for the industry is clear. If he was an aspirating professional player I am sure he would use AI driven lol coaching to ensure that he can grow. But his true passion is in live events. He made valuable connections over the years, including Experient’s live events team.

In 2018, while taking some much-needed R&R (young tech entrepreneurs don’t get your typical vacation package), he was invited to Experient’s inaugural Esports Immersion event in New Orleans.

It was there that the concept of experience design came to life and transformed how he imagined live events forever.

Now, a lot of us in the industry will have no idea what esports is even though it’s something that attracts huge audiences and continues to grow in popularity. It’s an event where pro-video game players show off their ability in an event which is usually a tournament. An example of this would be Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – 2 teams battle it out to see who will come out on top as thousands of people watch from the audience and online. The game is so big that sites like CSGO Roll operate solely for the game’s players. So, you can imagine how big these esports events are, with an industry as big as gaming.

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8 Phases Was Enough

“I knew I wanted to expand my role in live events after learning about the 8 Phases of a Successful Event,” Taylor said.

Once he heard this methodology masterfully broken down by Greg Bogue, Chief Experience Architect at Maritz Global Events, he knew where his next adventure was leading him.

“Having produced events before, I was familiar with the general concepts, but it had never been structured in such a relevant way. This made me want to dive deeper into how these eight phases could be used to create better experiences in esports and other live events.”

Taylor quickly realized how harnessing the wealth of data that exists in the gaming space could be molded through each of the eight phases in a way that would resonate with targeted audiences.

In August 2018, he joined the Experient as a live events strategist.

Taylor now works with gaming and interactive events to maximize their attendee engagement. Tapping into his vast network across the industry, he’s opened doors into new markets through high-level market mapping and potential new services offerings, applying his domain knowledge in esports to help the live events team grow.

With the incredible expansion of these industries-especially esports-in recent years, there’s plenty of opportunities ripe for exploration. Esports has become a huge part of media, so when DMG Entertainment announced it was investing in eSports it was no surprise as they blazed new trails in this entertainment sector.

“Our team is always focusing on new ways we can add value to events across any market segment,” he said. “That’s one of the big reasons I was excited to join the live events team. There are some amazing possibilities ahead.”

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A Day in the Life

Working virtually out of Seattle, Taylor spends most of his days on conference calls.

When he puts the phone down, he’s able to tap into his entrepreneurial roots. Recently, Taylor has been part of a group focused on streamlining the live events team’s current processes so that this small-but-mighty group can keep up with its ever-increasing workload.

Outside of that, he is always working to accelerate the sales process by designing presentations and tailoring sales offerings to meet client needs.

His onsite calendar is usually filled with meetings, but recently he’s been booked for several speaking engagements-including a recent appearance as a mentor for the esports portion of SXSW.

On rare occasions you’ll find him in the booth at shows, but his primary focus at events is on networking to bring in new relationships for the esports portfolio.

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The Company You Keep

When running his startup, it was important for Taylor to have people around him who weren’t afraid to challenge his assumptions, encouraging him to examine all the possible outcomes of any given action.

He learned early that it was crucial to align himself with people who were smarter than he was.

“I believe we are a product of who we surround ourselves with. By surrounding myself with people who are the best at what they do, and who are willing to stand up for what they believe is right, I can only grow into a more well-rounded human being.”

While he’s thrilled to work in new markets and styles of events, within live events, Taylor’s excited to see continued expansion of the team’s annual Immersion and other events.

“I can’t wait to see what we’re able to create in the future,” he said. “Using our execution, knowledge and resources within the industry, I think we will be able to push the envelope of what’s possible at an event. That’s a very exciting proposition for me.”

This is How We Meet is a monthly column that brings to life one of the many important roles in the meetings and events industry through the story of someone who lives it. Is there a job you want to hear more about? Let us know.

Want to know more about the life of an event professional? Check this out:

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