NAECAD had a chance to connect with Chris Buckner, Co-Founder & CEO for Mainline.GG, to discuss the future of collegiate esports.
NAECAD: Can you tell us more about the Mainline.GG and its impact on esports?
Chris: Mainline's mission statement is "making it easy to unlock the value of esports for everyone." We find it imperative that we help our partners, brands, and student-athletes find value in esports through tournaments, leagues, and more. We do this by providing the highways for the amateur esports space through our licensed software. Our goal has always been to bring continuity to a specific industry that is commonly referred to as the "wild west." We are at the very early stages of what looks to be a massive new sport in the college space. Schools are committing in some cases millions to their esports programs, building facilities, offering scholarships, and more. Some of the biggest brands, endemic and non-endemic, are fighting for presence in the space. I see esports right now as a collegiate sport in the middle of taking its next step - better facilities, recruiting opportunities, coaches, and most importantly, more scholarships. Mainline wants to serve only as that backbone by being the software utilized by every school, conference, league, and brand in the amateur esports space.
NAECAD: Why do you think the recent partnership between Nerd Street, NACE, CSL Esports, and Mainline.gg is important for collegiate esports?
Chris: I think that this is fantastic for the students. These groups supporting the space will continue to bring continuity into a fragmented market. What NACE and CSL have done is built a partnership between them - CSL (the largest collegiate league) and NACE (a 501(c)(3) and the largest association of varsity esports programs in North America). It's an excellent opportunity to continue growing the space, bring even more awareness, and link two groups made for each other. Nerd Street is one of the most well-known brands in all of esports. They have a fantastic reputation, and what they are building from a physical infrastructure standpoint will be imperative to live events and growth in amateur esports and beyond. Mainline is proud to support these efforts from a software perspective.
NAECAD: In your opinion, what's next for collegiate esports?
Chris: Exponential growth and structure. You already see it with the individual school investments, but you are getting ready to see an influx of interest from brands and a massive increase in the size and clout of esports competition in the college space.
The publishers are putting more and more towards collegiate esports, leading to a consolidation of efforts across areas including rights, software, hardware, production, broadcast, and more. There will be a substantial amount of consolidation within the next six months, which is great for building out a defined structure across the landscape.