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Stoyan Todorov February 23, 2022 5 min read
Parimatch Tech Head of Esports Stepan Shulga “We Promote Awareness and Understanding of Esports as One of Our Best Products”
Parimatch Tech remains one of the most prominent companies actively developing its esports proposition, providing esports fans with a wide range of betting events. This is exemplified by the company’s ties with various renowned organizations throughout the years. Also, the Parimatch brand has been an early-day supporter of numerous esports tournaments as an official partner or organizer.
Their partnership renewal with Team Spirit reflects this commitment, with the Russian squad only recently winning The International 10, one of the biggest esports tournaments with an eye-watering $40 million prize pool.
According to Parimatch Tech statistics, esports is #3 in terms of bets placed on their platform, following football and cyber football. So, where does Parimatch Tech come in today’s industry, and what are the company’s plans? Let’s find out from our conversation with Head of Esports at Parimatch Tech, Stepan Shulga.
Q: Why is Parimatch interested in esports today, and has this been one of your core focuses from the start or something that developed in the past years?
Parimatch brand’s way in esports started in April 2015. One guy, an analyst of sports football events and a big esports fan, persuaded the trading department to take the risk, and we accepted our first esports bet. Back then, it was an unbelievably cheerful experiment for the Parimatch brand, in the development of which nobody believed for a year. During this year, we tested various theories.
Once Parimatch Tech’s leadership recognized the commercial opportunities in esports, we built a new department to focus specifically on developing our esports marketing and product offer. We decided to pursue a non-traditional strategy and didn’t employ people who had experience in betting marketing and products, but instead turned to experts from the esports industry. This approach meant that we could achieve extraordinary growth over a relatively short time. As for now, we are working systematically, sustainably, and are having excellent results.
We have long been at the forefront of the burgeoning esports industry, recognizing its growth potential early on and paying it the same amount of attention as traditional sports. A significant part of R&D at Parimatch Tech focuses on developing esports features to enhance user experience, which is why the Parimatch is considered one of the top esports betting platforms. Even being nominated for SBC’s esports Operator of the Year Award indicates that our company is agreeing with trends and is always on the front foot regarding new ways to grow the business.
Q: What is achieved through the endorsement of individual esports organizations, such as Team Spirit? Spirit were not always top contenders, but you stood by them. How is that?
Parimatch Tech focuses on collaborations, and this helps us generate knowledge and increase brand awareness, stimulate interest and demand in new regions, increase and maintain the loyalty of the existing audience. Having ambassadors in different sports is a great practice, but we think it’s essential to have ambassadors who exemplify our values of fighting spirit. We started working even before the legendary roster appeared, even when Dota 2 as a whole was not a priority for “dragons”.
Going out with proposals for cooperation with already established brands is the beaten path, more akin to entering into price wars. Thanks to our esports team expertise, we try to be “ahead of the times” and look for exciting partnerships at every step. At one time, we were lucky to find mutual understanding with Team Spirit, establish cooperation, and walk this path together. It is a synergy of intuition and expertise. That’s why we cooperate with Team Spirit from 2019—it’s a genuine and responsible partnership.
Q: Does esports betting play a big part in the way fans construe the esports experience as a whole? Is placing a bet on esports important?
Betting is like seasoning for a dish in this sense — it enhances emotions. The fan not only supports his favourite team, but also participates with it. We provide fans with an additional entertainment platform during esports tournaments to create this feeling of participation.
But it’s crucial to understand that placing bets isn’t the way to earn money. Therefore, as a part of the Responsible Gambling Strategy, we encourage everyone to treat betting as a part of the entertainment.
Q: Who is betting on esports, and what do you think are their motivations?
We conduct an in-depth analysis of our esports customers to establish what they need from us and provide them with the ultimate betting experience. This is particularly helpful as Parimatch’s esports player’s profile differs from most players of other betting companies. The generation that loves and promotes esports are so-called “digital natives” – people who grew up during the computer technology transformation but are already in the era of fully accessible personal computers. These are young folks who understand the rules of the game they see on the screen.
The entry threshold for esports can now be even lower than in traditional sports — to feel the process and understand the rules, a few games sessions, or passion for the game, for some time is enough. In the future, our audience watches the games of professionals on streams and makes bets in the same way as the audience of traditional sports when watching sports broadcasts. Our audiences are engaged, passionate and use new technologies.
Q: What are Parimatch Tech’s plans for 2022, and what is your main ambition for the esports vertical?
We plan to bring the product itself to perfection to make it possible to access the most profound esports match statistics directly on our platform, without the need for the player to scan for information on third-party portals. Our focus is live stats, pre-match stats, match history, various widgets, and various betting outcomes (markets).
Speaking the same language with the community is always a good decision. Furthermore, we hope to open lines for our players to mobile esports—the following “next big thing” for us.