A conversation with ELEAGUE’s leading lady Christina Alejandre

ELEAGUE’s latest live event is the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017, marking the triumphant return of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The latest tournament kicked off in early September and features 16 teams going head-to-head for eight spots in the playoffs - set for the second week of October. There will be live coverage on TBS at 10 p.m. ET every Friday night, with live digital coverage across Twitch, YouTube and ELEAGUE.com starting at 6 p.m. ET.  Counter-Strike teams from around the world will be showcased that will bring this elite competition to life.

Since its 2016 launch, ELEAGUE has also hosted live competitions for Street Fighter® V and Overwatch, as well as making its first foray into episodic taped content with ELEAGUE - Road To The International Dota 2 Championships.

To get an in-depth view of all that is going on, we sat down with ELEAGUE’s leading lady, Christina Alejandre, vice president of esports and general manager of ELEAGUE at Turner.

Tell us about this season of ELEAGUE and the innovations being introduced.
Counter-Strike has been part of ELEAGUE’s core from the beginning, and we are now entering our third season featuring the game and the first time we have presented it since June’s Clash for Cash: The Rematch. The world’s best CS:GO teams will compete live from Turner Studios in Atlanta over a five-week span, with a $1 million prize pool on the line, as we build up to the grand final on Friday, Oct. 13.

We also just announced a collection of innovative technology upgrades for our coverage of this event. We’re integrating eye-tracking technology that will tell our audiences and commentators more about how the world's best CS:GO pros process and react to their in-game field of vision, using micro projectors and sensors from Dell Gaming and Tobii. Also, new for the Premier is immersive virtual reality coverage, which means viewers can plunge into the world of the game while still enjoying our 2D presentation of the live action via SLIVER.tv. ELEAGUE is also incorporating advanced analytics from Dojo Madness – their platform captures helpful insights about the Counter-Strike tendencies of different teams, allowing our fans and analysts to understand how teams won or lost a given round.

What is ELEAGUE doing to fuel the passion of our fans, during and outside the season?
We started ELEAGUE with the mantra that “What’s good for esports is good for us.” That mantra continues to inform how we’re engaging with our audience. Whether it’s the second screen experience you can find via our social channels during live gameplay, finding innovative ways to present content, or our live event, we’ve received amazing support from both the esports community and new fans of ELEAGUE. Engagement is the key across all platforms, and we’re focused on creating a great fan experience for both hardcore fans and the more casual fan alike. 

We’ve also further diversified our content offerings, which has helped broaden the reach of ELEAGUE as we attract new fans to esports. We launched with a CS:GO championship, and that franchise will remain a key part of our DNA, but we’ve also staged events featuring Overwatch, Street Fighter® V and the upcoming ELEAGUE Injustice 2 World Championship. While we’ll remain focused on the professional live event experience, we’ve also partnered with GEICO to host our first-ever amateur event at PAX West in Seattle, and we just completed airing a four-part, all-access series tracking prominent teams and players as they prepared for and participated in The International 2017.

How did the ELEAGUE | Road to the International DOTA 2 Championships come about?
We wanted to find ways to present esports differently, outside of just live gameplay. Telling the stories of players and teams on their journey towards this event was a great way to do it. What better way than to do that than around one of the most popular esports competitions in the world? For those that may not be aware, The International’s prize pool is entirely crowd funded and this year, reached a record $24 million. People from all over the world compete for a spot in the International. We created a special four-part series that went behind-the-scenes with popular teams and players – along with passionate Dota 2 fans including NBA player Jeremy Lin – as they experienced this year’s event through their unique vantage points. It was a great opportunity to align with a premium property and tell the stories that are gripping to both our targeted, passionate fans, as well as those that may be new to esports. Those rich narratives, consistent with any sport category, create intrigue and can bring in a new audience to esports, our network and ELEAGUE’s premium content.

What was the strategy for Turner licensing the ELEAGUE brand for an amateur competition?
Staging the first-ever GEICO ELEAGUE Amateur Series at PAX West held over Labor Day weekend in Seattle was a tremendous opportunity to establish a strong connection with the amateur community and give fans and gamers an opportunity to compete for a share of the spotlight, in an environment that is very similar to the professional experience.

What was your career path into esports?
I’m very fortunate to have spent my entire career in an industry I’m so passionate about. I crossed into esports while helping to develop a MOBA game during my time with Warner Brothers Games and have been hooked ever since. Prior to joining Turner, I was a consultant for ESL, helping operationalize their North American studio. And since joining Turner, it’s taken everything to the next level. I’m surrounded by an incredible team, and while I couldn’t be more proud of all we have accomplished to date, I’m even more excited about our future.

Are you a sports fanatic?
As far as stick-and-ball sports, I’m a huge Barcelona FC fan. I’m so excited for Turner Sports’ recently announced plans to present UEFA Champions League soccer beginning in 2018. If Barca plays in the Champions Cup, I’m going to find a way to be there!

What’s your goal for ELEAGUE?
I want ELEAGUE to be the premier esports brand out there. We should be leaders in the space, not followers.  

ELEAGUE’s CS:GO Premier 2017 takes place every Friday night with the tournament’s Finals on Friday Oct. 13. Secure free tickets in advance of each week’s competition to experience the tournament in person as part of the live studio audience at Turner Studios in Atlanta or tune in to TBS to watch Group B (Sept. 15), Group C (Sept. 22) or Group D (Sept. 29) at 10 p.m. ET.