2021 SVG Esports Production Summit

Speakers

Matt Arden, NBA 2K League, Head of Content and Media

Growing up all Matt Arden wanted to do was work in sports, so when he was able to secure an internship at The George Michael Sports Machine during his junior year at Virginia Tech, his entire world changed. That’s when he realized that storytelling, not scores, are the heart of any good broadcast.

Arden went on to join Turner Broadcasting where he spent 11 years working across multiple channels and platforms, most notably as a multiple Emmy-Award-winning creative producer in Turner Sports’ (now Warner Media News & Sports) Creative Services Sports Unit. In 2011, he moved to New York City and landed at Maggie Vision Productions, where he got the opportunity to work on a wide range of ESPN products, including the ESPYs. Arden then spent six years building and leading the “40 Foot Solutions” brand studio at Screenvision Media, where he rebranded and maintained one of the nation’s largest cinema entertainment networks and oversaw unique branded content productions for a roster of more than 150 national brands.

Today, Arden is head of content and media for the NBA 2K League where he leads the creative direction of all NBA 2K League content and broadcasts, overseeing the development and execution of the league’s content and broadcast strategies, creative, and distribution across all platforms.

Michael Bergeron, Panasonic, Senior Category Owner, Production Systems and Advanced Technology

Michael Bergeron is currently managing Panasonic’s live production system business, having served many roles at Panasonic including four years as camera product engineer and four years as chief technologist for workflow. He has managed co-development projects with other U.S.-based technology companies over the years and is currently focused on launching KAIROS – Panasonic’s IT/IP-based live production platform.

Bergeron has been involved with the production equipment business since joining Abel Cine in 1991, from technician to engineering director. He has been developing and supporting production gear from 16mm film to file-based workflow to ST 2110 and has authored white papers and delivered technical presentations to SMPTE, The HPA, The Digital Cinema Society, SVG, and the National Association of Broadcasters. Bergeron holds a B.S. in physics, an M.S. in electrical engineering, and is a member of SMPTE.

Ryan Cole, Activision Blizzard Esports, Senior Technical Manager, Global Broadcast

Ryan Cole oversees the production technology, transmission, and logistics for Activision Blizzard Esports. As senior technical manager, global broadcast at Blizzard Entertainment, Cole primarily focuses on the technological advancements of the Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and BlizzCon. Prior to joining Blizzard, he spent most of his career with Major League Gaming (MLG) and Electronic Sports League (ESL) managing numerous large-scale esports productions worldwide. During his tenure at MLG and ESL, Cole was responsible for multiple production studio and event environments for major esports clients including Riot Games, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, and Microsoft. In his current role, Cole is focused on scalable, cost-efficient cloud technology products that boost fan experience and engagement. Cole has been committed to driving esports innovation and breaking the boundaries of technology for over 15 years.

Charles Conroy, The Switch, VP, Gaming

Charles Conroy leads The Switch’s global expansion into esports. A former gamer himself and an early pioneer of professional esports, he created and managed his own teams including JMC, which he sold to the Dallas Cowboys. Conroy was also an equity partner and chief development officer of Complexity, one of the world’s premiere esports brands.

Royce Dickerson, EA, Executive Producer, Madden Competitive Gaming Content and Programming

A lifelong athlete, Royce Dickerson was drafted by the Seattle Mariners out of high school in the 27th round of the 2002 MLB Draft. He went on to start for the Western Michigan Broncos baseball team for four years, then played a year of professional baseball before starting his career in sports television in 2008. Dickerson began his career traveling around the country for ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball, also producing shows for the MLB All-Star game and World Series for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He later moved to Los Angeles to help launch ESPN’s SportsNation.

Dickerson soon moved over to FOX Sports to launch their new Sports Network, FS1, where he developed and produced FS1’s nightly news and highlights show, FOX Sports Live. Later joining the MLB production team, he won three Sports Emmys for his work on the MLB on FOX postseason. In 2018, Dickerson was asked to help develop, launch, and produce FS1’s groundbreaking sports Gambling Show, Lock It In. Prior to the start of season two in 2019, he was given daily oversight of Lock It In and in 2020 oversaw the rebrand of the show to its current name, FOX Bet Live.

In September of 2020, Dickerson joined Electronic Arts where he currently oversees content and programming for Madden Competitive Gaming. In his short time at EA, he has helped the Madden Championship Series set viewership records on Twitch and YouTube, has won a Telly Award for his work on “Derwin James vs The World” and most recently, a Hashtag Sports Award for the Best Virtual Brand Experience for his work on The Pro Bowl: The Madden 21 NFL Edition.

Dickerson resides in Woodland Hills, CA.

Phil Englert, Ross Video, Business Development Manager, Esports

Phil Englert grew up in Denver, Colorado and now resides in California after graduating from Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University. He has worked in the broadcast industry for eight years focusing the last five years on esports.

Previously, Englert worked for Next Generation Esports (NGE), and then Esports Engine as the head of in-game production. He has focused on the in-game storytelling of esports and the use of the spectator tools within the games. His goal has always been to deliver the most game authentic, format relevant, and emotionally impactful story to the audience and community. Some of his credits include game directing the Fortnite World Cup, TwitchCon 2018-2019, PUBG PGI 2018, and Teamfight Tactics World Championship 2018 – 2020.

Englert is excited to expand his expertise globally at Ross and continue to innovate the technological workflows used within the esports ecosystem.

Robert Erickson, Grass Valley, Strategic Account Manager, Sports and Venues

A member of the Grass Valley team since 2008, Robert Erickson has more than 19 years of experience in the broadcast and IT markets with previous roles covering systems engineering, television station management, broadcast network design, and RF transmission systems. Throughout his career, his focus has been on designing and maintaining infrastructure and playout systems based on new and emerging technologies for both existing and greenfield broadcast facilities.

In his current role, Erickson is a participant in the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and advocates for proper implementation of current and emerging broadcast standards on live production equipment. He spends much of his time engaging with customers to educate them on emerging IP technologies and trains internal staff on how IP technology drives different system designs. Erickson also designs and manages IP POC (proof of concept) systems for customers worldwide, testing and implementing solutions based on a diverse product line that includes cameras, servers, routers, multiviewers, various processing nodes, and VM-based software solutions.

Erickson is an active participant and frequent presenter in many of the major industry associations including the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE), Society of Television Engineers (STE), Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA).

Heather “sapphiRe” Garozzo, CS:GO / VALORANT Observer and Dignitas, VP of Talent

Heather “sapphiRe” Garozzo is a veteran of the esports industry. Garozzo is considered one of the most successful FPS observers (or in-game directors) for CS:GO and VALORANT, among other FPS titles. She has been billed on the broadcast line-up for some of the game’s most prestigious events, including the CS:GO Majors at ESL One Cologne, MLG Columbus, PGL Krakow, and ELEAGUE Boston, alongside an Emmy-award winning production crew. Garozzo has worked alongside top tier tournament organizers including ESL, ESEA, ELEAGUE, MLG, Beyond the Summit, PGL, BLAST Pro Series, DreamHack, and more.

During her career as a professional Counter-Strike player, Garozzo competed in over 250 tournaments since 2001; notably winning the ESWC Women’s World Cup in 2012 with team Ubinited, while also playing for such reputable organizations as Evil Geniuses and Dignitas. In 2019, Garozzo was inducted into the Esports Hall of Fame, the first and so far only female to do so.

As the vice president of talent at Dignitas, Garozzo is responsible for creating and executing marketing, media, and content engagement strategies, in addition to player recruitment for the organization’s pro players and content creators. Garozzo earned her M.B.A in marketing and digital marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her B.A. in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Brian Gramo, Super League Gaming, Head of Virtualis Studios

Brian Gramo is a producer and director with over 15 years of experience, best known for his expertise in live streaming production. In 2007, he founded theStream.tv, a network of live streaming shows.

Previously, Gramo served in a multitude of roles including showrunner, technical director, director of photography, unit production manager, 1st assistant director, editor, and post production supervisor. He served as producer and director of syndication for SpinMedia Group, producing live multi-camera video content for their wide range of entertainment and music properties. In addition, Gramo has produced major events for celebrities and large-scale brands.

James Grieve, Battle Royale Observer Director

James Grieve is a freelance observer and observer director who has spent the better part of the last four years working on the story telling for Battle Royal Esports. Formerly a competitive player on Wargamings World of Tanks, Grieve spent several years as a caster and analyst covering World of Tanks Esports after he graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.S. in strategic communications in 2016. When Wargaming ceased competitive operations late in 2017, he had already begun playing competitive PUBG in early online tournaments. When given the opportunity to work as an observer for the North American PGI Qualifiers, he took it and began his career covering Battle Royals.
In his time as an observer director, Grieve has worked with a wide variety of esports production studios and game publishers including ESL, NGE, OGN, EA, and Krafton to provide the in-game coverage for PUBG, Fortnite, and Apex Legends. Some of his credits include Twitch Broadcaster Royale, The National PUBG League, World Series of Esports: Fortnite, Apex Legends Global Series, and the PUBG Continental Series North America.

Andrew Lane, FACEIT, Director of Broadcast and Production

Andrew Lane is the director of broadcast and production at FACEIT, a community-focused esports platform and tournament organizer. His key responsibilities include the delivery of the company’s live broadcasts and events; the design strategies for broadcast development and innovation; the global production strategic sourcing; creating new key broadcast partnerships; and management of the company’s international media logistics and operations.

Before starting at FACEIT, Lane worked freelance in the esports industry as a technical director and assisted with the delivery of key productions for clients such as 343 Industries, Jagex, Super Evil Megacorp, and Konami, as well as working with a number of industry-leading tournament organizers. Before this he spent a short time at Atos UK & I working at the BBC.

Since joining FACEIT, Lane has led the delivery of major events such as Rainbow 6 Mexico Major 2021, Rainbow 6 North American League 2020-2021, Flashpoint, The FACEIT London Major 2018, and PUBG Global Summit. Alongside this, he has also produced a number of white label and FACEIT projects, and made key internal developments to the production workflow, logistics pipeline, and personnel operations.

Xavier LaTorre, Blizzard Entertainment, Lead Observer, Call of Duty League

Xavier LaTorre is the lead observer for the Call of Duty League at Activision Blizzard Esports.

LaTorre began his Activision Blizzard career with the Overwatch League. He joined the OWL observing team mid-way through the inaugural season, focusing on the “free camera” look seen throughout each match. He stayed as a member of the team through the end of the 2019 season before transitioning to help launch the Call of Duty League.

In addition to directing the in-game action seen on CDL broadcasts, LaTorre also helps theorize new observing workflows and works alongside multiple teams within Activision Blizzard on the continued improvement of CodCaster, Call of Duty’s in-game observing tool.

Joseph Lynch, EA, Head of Broadcast

Joseph Lynch is the head of broadcast for Electronic Arts. Over the past 20 years, his career brought him from NBC to China, WWE, OWN, Time, GoPro and finally, EA. Lynch is currently responsible for all competitive gaming broadcasts and long-form content. Over the past two years, he has expanded EA’s live and feature content offerings, while expanding in-house production capabilities including the newly opened, EA Broadcast Center. Prior to joining EA, Lynch brought Access Hollywood to China, managed digital production for WWE, built the live division of Time, and was the executive producer of lifestyle and music at GoPro.

Brian Mirakian, Populous, Senior Principal / Esports Director for the Americas

Brian Mirakian is a senior principal at Populous and leads the firm’s esports project initiatives globally. With a focus on innovation, next-gen consumerism, and connective strategy, he masterfully creates opportunities for his clients by reimagining their brands and linking fans to immersive experiences.

Mirakian is currently leading the effort for Fusion Arena, the first purpose-built esports arena venue in the Western Hemisphere, as well as Comcast’s G4 Studios and Nerd Street Gamer’s Localhost national roll-out. He was also the project director for the largest esports venue in North America, Esports Stadium Arlington.

His award-winning work has garnered international acclaim in publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company, and has helped create transformative design solutions for his clients, having collaborated with nearly every professional team, the Olympic Games, the NFL, NBA, MLB, and top brands including Adidas, Activision Blizzard, and Tencent.

Ryan Thompson, Esports Engine, Co-Founder and Chief Production Officer

Ryan Thompson is the co-founder and chief production officer of Esports Engine, a Vindex company. In his role, Thompson oversees the design, production, and execution of the industry’s most iconic events and leagues across Esports Engine’s portfolio of partners, including AAA game publishers, brands, and other key stakeholders, such as Microsoft, Nintendo, Twitch, Activision, and more.

A 15-year veteran of the industry, Thompson is responsible for bringing hundreds of live esports tournaments and broadcasts to life across a multitude of game titles. Prior to founding Esports Engine, Thompson served as director of technical production at Activision Blizzard, where he led esports production for the publisher’s most valuable properties and landmark events, including the Call of Duty World League. As a founding employee at Major League Gaming, Thompson made an early impact in the world of esports production, bringing competitive gaming content to life through proprietary platforms before the likes of Youtube or Twitch existed, as well as on major networks, such as ESPN and HBO.

Peter Wharton, TAG V.S., Director, Corporate Strategy

As director of corporate strategy at TAG V.S., Peter Wharton’s experience includes 20 years of news and live event coverage and engineering at ABC and Fox Networks. He also worked towards the launch of a satellite based CDN at PanAmSat, has 16 years of product development at Miranda (Grass Valley) and BroadStream Solutions, and has developed cloud migration strategy for several broadcasters, networks, and technology vendors. Wharton’s broad experiences in live events, playout, technology development, and cloud enables TAG V.S. to develop new solutions for a constantly changing media landscape.

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