The NA LCS officially began on the 19th of August, and on last Saturday, ‘Team Dignitas’ and ‘Cloud9’ finally had their match. Wanting to watch their favorites teams play live, many fans showed up wearing their corresponding team jerseys, and the entire place was filled with their energy. Although C9 claimed the 3rd match for themselves, they were quickly overwhelmed by Dignitas. With this victory, Dignitas advanced into the semifinals, and they are set to play against TSM on the 27th.
At the site, we were able to meet many of the Dignitas staff members. Among these many people were ‘AJ Mazur’, the team’s Director of Brand Marketing, whom we had an opportunity to speak to. It has only been 2 months since he became a part of the team, but the affection he has for Dignitas was extraordinary, to say the least. Before joining the team, AJ used to work as a producer/caster in the esports scene and has even played on stage as a competitor in the past.
Stating that “Team Dignitas has some of, if not THE best fans in esports today,” AJ clearly took pride in the fans that support DIG. It’s true that Dignitas’ fanbase isn’t the biggest in NA, but AJ nonetheless expressed gratitude to the devoted fans who cheer for the team no matter if they win or lose.
Currently, Dignitas is under the ‘76ers’, and AJ gave us some insight regarding the relationship between them. The 76ers have been providing support through Fitness training, calorie/nutrition control, and teaching the team how to correctly respond to the media. With this help, Dignitas has been growing exponentially. We then asked AJ about Dignitas’ fans, the team’s long history, their connection to the 76ers, and their future marketing tactics for the global market.
Q. Please introduce yourself briefly.
My name is AJ Mazur, I am the director of brand marketing for Team Dignitas.
Q. Can you tell us more about what you do as a marketing director?
So I joined Team Dignitas about two months ago, following the purchase by the Philadelphia 76ers. So right now, I am taking care of a lot of our video content, merchandise, and overall brand, in particular. Because right now, Team Dignitas is a very storied legacy, in esports in general. I have been a fan of Team Dignitas for over 10 years myself, so to work on a brand such as this team, is incredibly exciting for me.
Q. What kind of image does team Dignitas want to present to the fans?
It’s important to let fans today know just how long Team Dignitas has been around and how important Team Dignitas is to esports. There are very few organizations that have been around for 15,10, or even for 5 years, in this space. You look at NA LCS and there are very new organizations, making the rounds. But we have been here, for very long time; this is not our first rodeo (laughs).
Q. What do you think about your reputation in the NA market at the moment?
Right now? That’s a very good question. Um, well if you look at the crowd today, there is about one person in a Dignitas jersey for every 10 people in a C9 jersey. But, our fans are louder than all of them, even when we lose they still cheer, and even when the other team makes a good play, our fans are talking: ‘that was a great play’, ‘that was good’. And they’re smiling, and they’re happy. I would say Team Dignitas has some of, if not THE best fans in esports today, and that speaks to our legacy. Like I said myself, I've been a fan for over 10 years.
Q. It sounds like the relationship between Team Dignitas and the fans is strong.
I think it is. Our fans may not be there in numbers, but passion is more than enough(Laugh)
Q. Are there any special fans you remember?
Actually [there was one] today. We saw on twitter yesterday, two friends from the east coast. One of these friends, about two days ago, was convincing his friend: ‘we have to go to playoffs, we must go see team Dignitas’ and they hopped on a plane and flew here, over 2 days. On two days notice, they came over and sat in the crowd; they were in the second row, behind me. And we saw their story on twitter; one of our fans signed up on twitter just to tell the internet this story. And we saw that. So we came in and I was looking with rest of team and said’ these guys are great, we have to give them something’. So we came by, we got them shirts, we got them jerseys - just to reward them for their passion. And they’d been talking with C9 fans all day; happy, smiling, glad to be out here. A little bit of friendly banter back and forth - a little bit, but still, [they were] incredibly happy, just to see their favorite team play. And to me that speaks so much [about] how passionate our fans are.
Q. Do you have any other marketing plan for other regions outside of the U.S?
We do. We do have marketing plans because league of legends is not the only game we cover. We have a Heroes of the Storm team in Europe, we have a Smite team in Europe, We have a Counterstrike team also in Europe. Not to mention that most of our LoL team is from Korea. So, we do have plans. It will take some time. The new marketing of Team Dignitas is only two months old. It will take time, but we will be well.
Q. So did you actually work for the 76ers?
Actually, no. Do you remember the IGN pro league? IPL? It was around season 2. We ran many events here in the States and we ran two tournaments, IPL 4 and IPL 5, which were some of the biggest events around League of Legends when it was just in its infancy. I was a caster and I was a producer back then. So my experience in esports goes back all the way to 2008 as a player. I played Guitar Hero, I played Magic the Gathering, and some fighting games.
Q. How did you decide on what type of game to play?
When you are so experienced in esports, you have to play everything (laughs). I’ll say this much: if you’re into esports, you have to put the time in.
Before I started casting I was maybe, silver 5? By the time I was done, I think I hit Diamond 3, that took year and a half. If you’re dedicated, you put the work in. Especially when you are part of a multi-scene organization, you have to know a little bit of everything. One of the other people on my marketing team, Heather, she was originally part of our women's Counter Strike team. She is one of the best Counter Strike observers in the world. When we first started she came to me and said ‘I don’t know much about league of Legends, you’re gonna have to teach me’ and I said ‘Well I don’t know much about Counterstrike, so you’re gonna have to teach ME. and then we can both play PUBG and be terrible’ (laughs). And that’s the great part about having such a large organization. Everyone has expertise and we all come together in a big melting pot.
Q. So I was wondering; previously you were a producer and caster. Now you are a marketing director. Why did you decide to change your position?
Oh boy, um, that is a really good question... I like making large impacts in esports. If it wasn’t for esports, I would not have a career. So, to me, being in this position is my way of saying thank you and giving back to a community of people which [has] given me a career today. To a team, which has given me so much as fan, and to players, to ensure that they have a career, both while they are a player and after.
Q. This’ll be the last question. Is there any marketing collaboration with 76ers?
So actually, the 76ers social media team has been very kind to us. So they are giving us shoutouts from their account, they’re sending gifs, ya know, cheering us on. But even beyond marketing, the 76ers have one of the best training facilities in the NBA, which our players have access to it. Our women’s Counterstrike team has been there already, our league of legends team will be going there soon. And they do everything from physical training to nutrition, to media training and everything that 76ers have access to, we do as well. And that’s something that I can’t think that any other team in esports has.
Q. In the coming 2024 Paris Olympics, esports might possibly become an official sport. Do you have any thought on this?
Hm... Whenever I think about esports getting more appeal in the world , I look back at the same conversation we were having about a decade ago with Poker. When Poker first started appearing on TV, everyone thought 'Nah, there’s no way that’ll be a thing' And here we are, 10 years later, and you’re still seeing the World Series of Poker on television. To me, we are in the same exact boat. The sky is honestly the limit for esports where it is today and where it will be tomorrow. I feel that right now, the industry overall is strong. And I have no reservations, I think esports, as times goes on, will continue to have a strong following, and I hope to show off the Dignitas Legacy there as well.
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