Are esports 'real' sports? Rick Fox, a former 3-times NBA champion, will agree.
During the interview, Rick Fox expressed that the impression that he had as he watched a League of Legends tournament changed his perspective of esports - What used to be just video games became sports. From the passion of the fans to the challenges that the players faced, the former NBA legend saw that esports and traditional sports are relatable to each other.
That's when Rick Fox formed Echo Fox and started to put 'sports' into 'esports'. He cared for his players through support and stability and he created an environment where the best will want to compete. As Echo Fox expanded rapidly in the esports scene, esports began to see an influx of investments that are comparable to traditional sports.
When we started the interview, we wondered how traditional sports could be applicable to esports. As we listened to Rick Fox, we were convinced that traditional sports and esports are the same in spirit, and we realized how infrastructure and experience of traditional sports could help esports to be more established and accepted as mainstream sports.
Here is our interview with the owner of Echo Fox, Rick Fox.
Can you tell us about how you have decided to invest into esports?
My son Kyle was my inspiration behind taking the leap into the esports world. I have always considered myself to be a gamer, as it is one of the things that I would do to bond with Kyle. After we began playing League of Legends together, we attended a tournament Riot put on at Madison Square Garden and I felt the electric energy from the fans and knew that I wanted to have a deeper involvement with the sport. I wanted to support Kyle’s deep passion for video games as well as other gamers by more than simply playing the game.
How has your experience as a pro basketball player helped you operating an esports team?
My experience as a professional athlete really helps me relate to the players on our roster. I know what it is like to leave home – in my case my country – and I’ve been through many of the challenges that some of our young players face. As a former LA Lakers player, I always felt supported, celebrated and cared for by the organization. That is exactly what I aspire to do with our players, making sure they always come first.
We are starting to see a large influx of high-profile investments to esports scene. Can you tell us if there’s anyone that you’ve personally convinced to invest in esports?
My longtime friend and business partner Amit Raizada and I launched Echo Fox, and from there we brought on Jace Hall as CEO, as well as the former San Jose Sharks co-owner Stratton Sclavos. All four of us recently launched new private equity firm Vision Venture Partners, to focus on the esports ecosystem among others.
As someone who were successful in professional basketball, do you have any suggestions on esports going forward?
The success of the future of esports depends on the games that are embraced by fans and the leading teams. There is no magic formula to creating an esport, but rather, it’s about creating an environment in which the best athletes in the world want to compete.
As an esports team owner, can you tell us about your impression of South Korea during your visit last year?
Korea was a real eye-opening experience. It was incredible seeing a country with such a strong passion for esports. We spent a lot of time in the PC Bangs where everyone was playing League of Legends, Overwatch and Starcraft. When I got to the hotel and I turned on the TV, the first station I saw was showing esports. I could see why the country produces some of the best players in the world – esports is a major passion in South Korea. That is how I envision the US being in a few years.
We've seen you in a baseball cap with Overwatch League logo on it, and you've hinted at creating an Overwatch team. What are your thoughts on the future of competitive Overwatch?
We continue to look at Overwatch as a potential esport to compete in.
Can you tell us your favorite esports players, and why you chose those players?
I love all our Echo Fox pros equally! However, there are a few that stand out to me. Our League of Legends player Froggen stands out to me because he was the first player to entrust in Echo Fox. Our Gears of War player Kyle Mason stands out to me because I was inspired by his character and strength he demonstrated through a hard loss in his life and how committed he was to not give up on his career. Our fighting game player Scar has constantly battled through health challenges to still compete at such a high level.
Another is Sonic Fox because he was a Fox before Echo Fox. MKLEO is 16 and dominating in Smash, and the H1Z1 players who came together for the Fight for the Crown. Lastly, I'll mention our League of Legends players KEITH, who created the 'Rickkkkkkkk Foxxxxxxxxx' meme that got popular worldwide and Korean pro players.