fragster: SK Gaming lately lost SteelSeries as a sponsor. What were the reasons for the separation?
Alexander Müller concentrates on working in the management of SK Gaming since 2006. Beforehand he was working for Turtle Entertainment. The German meanwhile is the only CEO of SK Gaming and did celebrate huge victories with the team in the past.
Alexander Müller: That's not totally right like this. Our contract with SteelSeries ended in the first quarter of this year and we didn't decide yet how it can or ought go on. In principle Steel follows an other strategy than the year before. Additionally, we changed our goals concerning partnerships like this as well. We need more time to discuss the matter together.
This is nothing new for us. There were periods of time like this often in the past. We are working internally and don't peddle with the matter in the community. Hence I can understand why this question was asked.
At the moment Toshiba is the head sponsor of SK Gaming. How long will the partnership last?
Müller: You will understand that we can't talk about details concerning partnerships public. That is the usual case with contracts. When we announced Toshiba as a partner we defined three years as the length of the contract. That didn't change.
Meanwhile there are less sponsors on the page of SK Gaming than lately. Are any new sponsors in prospect?
Müller: Indeed, we can and will announce some in a foreseeable amout of time. Maybe even before this interview will be released. In the last months we were pretty active in our partner network and have some good opportunities that we will take.
Is SK Gaming focused on beeing a pro-gaming team or establishing as a community site at the moment?
Müller: We have always been both. SK is a wonderfull brand and we are proud to be seen as that. Unquestionable we feel as a team at first because that is our core. It's our emotions and that's why we have that many fans. We are pretty thankful that we get such a support off of the community. That's not normal. We try to give it back correspondingly and try to be a fixed point of reference for the community. I think we are doing a good job concerning that. At least our numbers point that out.
At the moment in the most important eSports games SK Gaming got only a League of Legends team and one Starcraft 2 player contracted. Do you plan to sing more players?
Müller: In my mind the first question is what important eSports games are. For us there are two games that are set at the moment: LoL and SC2. Everything else is subordinate to these two games. But we have more than just players in these games. Shane Hendrixson aka rapha is playing Quake Live and Shootmania for SK Gaming. With Bruce we got one of the best FIFA 13 players contracted. Moreover we got the currently best SMITE team in Europe as well as our console players. Overall, we are broadly based. If the question was heading to Dota 2 und CS:GO, then I tell open that we are interested in these titles but don't see real potential respectively the expectations of the players in these games vary pretty much compared to ours. The viewer counts are telling a clear story concerning that matter.
How does SK Gaming, as one of the most sucessfull organisations in Counter-Strike, think about a signing of a team in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive?
Müller: As I have written above. We are pretty interested in working with CS:GO according to our tradition. It's just not the right moment. We also think that Valve has to do much to get the title up in the priorities list of the teams. The passivity at the moment can not be compared to what Riot and Blizzard manage. Quite the contrary. The landscape has changed. Publishers are in competition against each other and woo for the ressources of teams.
Would it make sense for SK Gaming to sign a Dota 2 lineup besides the League of Legends lineup?
Müller: It's the same as with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This one tournament the year as a PR gag is not enough. Riot makes it easy for us to invest ressources in a LoL team. Valve is way behind concerning that and has to live with this role due to this, I think. Nevertheless, Dota 2 is an amazing game.
Lately the contract of MC was extended. Had SK Gaming to invest a lot of ressources to bind the player for a year more to the team?
Müller: I tell you how it was: We met in December in Cologne, went into a meeting room, talked three minutes, laughed, shook our hands and that was all. We know what we got with Min Chul and he knows the same the other way round. He is an amazing player and character and does fit perfectly to SK Gaming. He respects exactly what SK Gaming stands for. The claim to win tournaments. Unfortunately there are too few players like this.
Is it planed to sign more Starcraft 2 player to complement the lineup or is the focus in 2013 completly on MC?
Müller: Min Chul is our Starcraft 2 player.
The League of Legends team is pre-qualified for Season 3. What expectations does the management have for the lineup?
Müller: Our goal is the top 4 in Spring Season to win the Summer Season afterwards. For sure we want to be the number one but unquestionable there is a new pressure due to the new format. We have to orientate first.
Which team or which player does have the highest marketing value in SK Gaming?
Müller: Carlos Rodriguez Santiago aka SK.ocelote.
Is this displayed in the player wages?
Müller: Of course.
How is the situation of SK Gaming compared to other clans in the world in your opinion?
Müller: We are on our own way. We always did it like that and we always had to. SK has its very own situation. That concerns sponsorship and thus budget as well as our claim for results in tournaments.
Naturally, the work of others has a big effect on our actions and sadly I see the same mistakes beeing done like in the past. There are always some people outside which distort the market through needless and exorbitant payments to players. On long-term this will always backfire because it can't be economically. Sadly this isn't discerned and not prevented. That puts unnecessary pressure on SK Gaming. Our only chance to defend against this is not playing this game and we are doing exactly that. In favor we are part of eSports since it started and if you add everything up SK Gaming did pay the players the most, merely reliable all the time. Everything in our organisation has to subjugate to this argument.
Does SK Gaming still have a leading role in the worldwide as well as European eSports?
Müller: Due to which occasion should I judge this any other way? All numbers and comparisons I know are telling a pretty clear story.
Did eSports take a positive development for SK Gaming in the last months and years?
Müller: Thoroughly. I would be happy about less dynamics. There are extreme directional changes partly. But what happens concerning Riot and Blizzard is definitely the right path if it is followed up consequently. I hope that others will orientate on that way.
How about the future of eSports as a whole?
Müller: I won't give a flowerly forecast. At the moment we are all tilted for Season 3. Let's immerse into that first and resume in November.
Lately there was a discussion about journalism in eSports. What do you think about the stuff told by Alex Garfield concerning "leaks" of journalist?
Müller: I didn't follow the controversy and can not comment on it due to that. What I don't like is that there are many bawlers out there who tell totally unreflected trash that easily could have been prevented with thinking for three seconds. It's this egotism that hurts eSports.
What is "good" eSports journalism in your opinion?
Müller: Objective questioning of facts or situations to release a solid article afterwards that weighs both sides of a story to build up an opinion through that. That happens way too few.
I think that we teams should have way more talks to journalists like you. More press-calls respectively conferences.
How do you think about eSports in comparism to "normal sports"?
Müller: Still pretty unprofessional thanks to too many egos, in my eyes. For my part I try to respect the work of others. That isn't the case with many other managers. This is pretty exhausting and counterproductive.
Lately, in German television there were more shows about eSports. Do you think that eSports will take the step into mainstream media in the long term?
Müller: Looking at the streaming numbers of our players and of big tournaments I think that the TV did miss the train. We are yet there and we have viewer counts many TV stations can just dream of. Let me tell it like this: We are the new mainstream.
What's the future concept of SK Gaming in eSports?
Müller: Get the professionalistation of our teams and players to the next level. Season 3 is a huge step in this terms. We have much time to work with our players and I am very excited for it.
Thank you for the Interview!