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HPA Tech Retreat Extra (TR-X) Announces Program: eSports: Dropping the Mic on Center Stage

Details, speakers and the Keynote for HPA TR-X (Tech Retreat Extra) have been announced. Now in its third year, HPA TR-X kicks off the HPA Tech Retreat, bringing together thought leaders and creatives for a deep dive into topics of particular interest to the community. This year TR-X will focus on eSports, entitled eSports: Dropping the Mic on Center Stage. TR-X will take place on Monday, February 11, 2019 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, CA, a day in advance of the HPA Tech Retreat.

ESports’ staggering growth has inspired intense interest across an entire spectrum of participants, from individual gamers and leagues, to technologists, to the world’s largest sports and media companies. According to Newzoo, it’s estimated that by 2020, the eSports market will be $1.5B from sponsorships and advertising, with an estimated global audience of over 600 million fans. Mark Chiolis and Craig German, co-chairs of TR-X, saw the exploration of eSports to be a highly relevant topic for technologists and companies who are at play, or want to be, in the industry’s rapid expansion. Chiolis said, “As we considered topics that were having dramatic impact on our industry, eSports is clearly one of the most compelling. Traditional companies and emerging companies are deeply involved in the evolution of eSports, and we wanted to go behind the scene, or screen, to see how technology is impacting the field.”

Yvette Martinez-Rea, Chief Executive Officer at ESL North America, will Keynote TR-X 2019. ESL, part of the international digital entertainment group MTG, is the world’s largest independent eSports company, leading the industry across popular video games with online and offline competitions, operating high profile, branded international and national leagues and tournaments (Intel® Extreme Masters, ESL One, ESL National Championships) and top tier stadium-size events, as well as grassroots amateur cups, leagues and matchmaking systems.

Prior to her current role as CEO, Martinez-Rea was Chief Operating Officer of ESL North America.  Before her time at ESL, Martinez-Rea was COO at Violet Grey, and Vice President of Change Management for Yahoo!’s Global Products organization. At Yahoo!, she also held roles that included Senior Director of Strategy and Business Management, Global Products and Senior Director of Strategy and Business Operations and Chief of Staff to EVP Yahoo! North America. She also acted as the executive sponsor for the Southern California chapter of Women in Technology. Prior to her time at Yahoo!, Martinez-Rea was the Vice President of Operations at United Online Inc., a publicly traded internet services provider. In 2018, Martinez-Rea was recognized by the industry’s influential Sports Business Journal as a Game Changer.

Martinez-Rea notes, “As eSports continues its meteoric rise, we see an incredible opportunity to enhance the eSports experience for audiences around the world, both online and at our global events. ESL works across all verticals to bring esports to passionate fans everywhere, and with continuous shifts in game title popularity, distribution, and more, this is a really exciting time to be in the space. I look forward to sharing ESL’s story and diving into what’s next for this industry.”

The schedule for the 2019 HPA Tech  Retreat TR-X features an engaging lineup of topics and speakers.

Leveling the playing field: Put us in Coach!

eSports is poised to establish itself as one of the key players on the main sports and entertainment stage. Listen to industry thought leaders as they share their insights on where technologists should be playing.

Speaker: Josh Rizzo

Technical enablement: The Metal Behind the Medal

From what is considered “state of the art” today, the session takes a look forward to what tomorrow will bring. While advances in technology continue to power the rise of eSports as a global entertainment sports phenomenon, players, leagues, and the technology industry are aggressively pushing its evolution into even more exciting directions. Trends like immersive play with AR and VR, upgraded venue and stadium technologies, advanced display technologies, and crossover with mainstream sports put the onus on manufacturers, designers, system integrators, and the entire industry ecosystem to collaborate. Growth, innovation, and execution: Where are they headed?  Are you ready to play?
Speakers: Thomas Burns (Dell EMC), Eliot Sakhartov (Microsoft), Josh Rizzo, Adam Myhill (Unity)

Moderator: Mark Chiolis

eSports Pipeline of the Future: Could eSports Unseat America’s Biggest Sports Event? 

A top ranked group of eSports business and operations executives gather to discuss today’s workflows, what’s working and what can be improved. What do they hope their technology teams can develop to benefit and build enjoyment of the next generation of eSports players and fans?

Speakers:  Tom Sahara (Turner), Ray Panahon (Riot)

Moderator:  Jason Dachman, SVG

Are You Ready for the Challenge?

How will the future vision for eSports be realized? Representatives from leagues, teams, and industry thought leaders share an insider’s look at what technologies are in development, what is almost here, and what the cornerstones of today’s live eSports events are. We’ll hear how these companies work as a team to design and build today’s workflows and tomorrow’s new showcase arenas to attract the new breed of sports enthusiast.

Speakers: Mark Scarpa (Simply New)

Moderator: Jason Dachman (SVG)

Preparing an industry for its future: The University/Student Panel

A growing number of top universities and colleges offer established programs in eSports/eGaming, and many more have plans to do so. Faculty and students from top eSports schools will share the eSports curriculum of the future and the novel ways in which instructors, players, and “scouts” are incorporating this burgeoning industry into today’s new course lineup.

Moderator:  Dakota Maysonet, Yellowpike Media

2 rounds of Beat the Clock:

Top industry experts will participate in two rounds of Beat the Clock, each exactly 2:00. Round 1 experts talk about where industry is today in a variety of key areas. Round 2 experts share their observations on the thought leadership of the day, as well as one parting thought for us to take away as we prepare to become eSports players.

Beat the Expert experts: Darrell Wenhardt (CBT), Tom Sahara (Turner), Michael Little (Artistic Resources)

Overtime: Post-Game Analysis

Seth Hallen, President of HPA, commented, “The HPA Tech Retreat is where you go for questions, answers, more questioning, and debate on the most important and change-oriented technologies and trends facing our industry.  TR-X, in its third year, is a powerful kickoff to the HPA Tech Retreat week and puts big thoughts in a one-day deep dive.  Mark and Craig and the committee have done an incredible job putting together a timely and innovator-led day for a thoughtful look at eSports.  I can hardly wait to see what this day brings to this important topic.”

The HPA Tech Retreat is the pre-eminent gathering of industry-leading thinkers and innovation-focused companies engaged in the creation, management, and dissemination of content. Every year, for a week near Palm Springs, the HPA Tech Retreat brings together a world-class roster of well-known and emerging leaders in engineering, technology, creativity and business. A full listing of sessions, activities, and registration is here. The HPA Tech Retreat benefits from the generous support of Title Diamond Sponsor Adobe; gold sponsors Blackmagic Design, Salesforce, and Western Digital; silver sponsor; bronze sponsor Avid; star sponsor Visual Data; and event sponsors ALTSystems and Dell EMC.

Registration for TR-X is separate, or in addition to, HPA Tech Retreat Registration.


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