Today, EVOS Esports has 15 teams over 5 countries but it could have been a very different story.
Ivan Yeo CEO and Co-Founder of EVOS Esports shares his story of how EVOS Esports was created and his journey in esports.
Let’s start with my background.
When I started EVOS, I had 0 knowledge about esports. I had experience in F&B businesses, starting up restaurants in Cambodia, and working in the family office with a focus on investing in real estate, start-ups, financial market companies so as you can see, esports was never my thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gaming. I would play DOTA whenever I had the time & would watch the yearly tournament - The Internationals when it rolled around, I loved watching the competition, the hunger & competitiveness. One day, I just snapped & told myself, just do it.
The first thing to get right was choosing the correct starting point.
While I’m Singaporean, the market potential in Singapore wasn’t there back then. On the other hand, Indonesia was booming, the numbers were there, I just needed to utilize it.
As mentioned earlier, I didn’t know anything about esports. So, the first step was to learn about the industry. There was no textbook for esports, it had to be trial by fire and I thought why not create a pro league for DOTA in Indonesia – AES Pro League. This way, I could learn about esports & also explore the Indonesian market. Killing two birds with one stone. Of course, I couldn't do it alone.
Choosing the Right Team
I would need a whole article to explain how important it is to have the right people. The initial EVOS Esports management team consisted of myself, Micheal, Wesley & Hartman. We all had our own responsibilities within the company, without even one of them, it would be disastrous. I will provide a more in-depth view of everyone's role in a future piece. For now, let's continue on with the story.
Adjusting the Focus
We committed to two seasons working on the league, we started to realize the league was not going to make it, the return on investment was not there. However, the potential for esports was. From there, we decided to shift the focus to teams , trying a different approach to tap into the market.
While the league wasn’t successful, there was one positive. We were able to pick up our first team, Majapahit Esports. They managed to finish 3rd place in the AES Pro League and we saw a chance to explore the esports team space and jumped right in. we just wanted to start somewhere.
We started off small, gave the team a monthly allowance & built a gaming house for the team, the first in Indonesia. The main point was to show the players that we cared & enter the esports space to build a brand.
We needed a new team name, Majapahit wasn’t exactly the most memorable name. I started to think of our core values & what we believed in, we wanted to evolve the esports culture in Southeast Asia & make it big.
Evolve. EVOS. That’s how everything started.
The First Roar
We decided to continue the AES Pro League project for one more season, giving our team a platform to grow and compete against other teams, this helped them improve. However, we wanted to grow the brand too so we utilize the teams social media, creating more content for the team, enabling fans to connect and engage with EVOS.
Esports is an entertainment business through and through. People watch matches to be entertained, to see big plays & epic moments.
The first move was to create social media links everywhere for people to see. Facebook, Instagram & YouTube. We hired people to create highlight reels for our matches & film vlogs to document our offline journeys, anything that could entertain and engage our fans.
While our fan base was growing, the team was winning games. The invested infrastructure was working and after constant training & scrims, the team was able to win numerous local DOTA tournaments and most notably beat out MVP Pheonix from Korea.
That was the turning point. It sparked belief, Hope. Showing Indonesian teams can compete against the best. Until that moment, there was a misconception that Indonesia had no good players, suddenly everyone started to take notice. From there we were able to secure sponsorship, NVIDIA, Digital Alliance, LG and the first non-endemic sponsor, GO-JEK.
I'll always remember the date, November 2016. The day EVOS Esports really came to life.
Our team was besting top tier DOTA2 teams and we were being invited to all the regional qualifiers. Everything was going extremely well but we felt like we could do more. We wanted to expand, and we saw an opportunity....
To be continued in the next edition of My Esports Journey: EVOS Esports.
RYGE would like to thank Ivan Yeo for sharing his journey!
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*credit to Ivan Yeo*