Esports Illustrated officially launched on Thursday. The publication is a joint venture between GaudHammer Gaming Group, Sports Illustrated, and its parent company The Arena Group. While it soft launched a few weeks ago, staff has been quietly banking content for several months in anticipation of this public launch.
The publication aims to create what it describes as “snackable, easily accessible content” about competitive gaming aimed at Gen-Z and Millennial audiences that focuses on core games, associated professional esports leagues, and related entertainment and culture-focused content. Initially it will focus on core games including Call of Duty, Valorant, Apex Legends, and League of Legends, with secondary coverage on other important titles. Esports Illustrated also plans to offer on-site coverage of major esports events in the future, according to a release.
Future plans include professional player stats (similar to what SI and ESPN does for professional athletes), a one-stop shop for finding scheduled matches for major pro league competitions, original and third-party video content, and better coverage of the collegiate esports scene. On that front, Esports Illustrated recently signed a three year partnership with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) to help build that out.
This publication’s leadership team includes Founder L. Anthony Gaud (also the founder of GaudHammer Gaming Group and a former Disney, Hasbro, Nexon America, and WB Games exec), President Nafeeza Hassan (also the VP of creative at GaudHammer Gaming Group), Editor-in-Chief Kali Scales (former head of content for Beasley Media Group’s Checkpoint XP), Publishing Manager Zack Patraw (also the founder of NFL Draft Bible), Project Manager Scott Zackman (a former head of league operations for Valorant-focused collegiate esports tournament organizer Conference One), and VP of Operations & People James Hammerstedt (also the VP of operations & people at GaudHammer Gaming Group), among others.
Esports Illustrated Founder L. Anthony Gaud told The Esports Advocate on Wednesday evening that the publication has been in ongoing talks with stakeholders including tier-one esports organizations and publishers to build out some of the content offerings it has planned. The group is also in talks with content creators to bring third-party video content into the mix in the future as a way to supplement its own video content plans in the future.
Gaud also believes that collegiate esports is woefully underrepresented at most existing esports publications and wants Esports Illustrated to be a leader in that space. For the time being coverage will focus on NACE-related college programs, but that will likely expand in the future to cover other major associations in the U.S.
Ultimately, Gaud believes that Esports Illustrated is about telling compelling stories around competitive gaming in a way that is easily digestible to a younger audience that is distracted by massive amounts of media on Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. Gaud acknowledged that executing his vision will be a challenge, but with a shrinking landscape of publications focused on the space, he believes GaudHammer Gaming Group’s multi-year partnership with The Arena Group and SI is an endeavor that will succeed.