When we take a look at the upcoming changes to the North American LCS, player rights and representation have become an important topic within the industry. The NA LCS even has a players union in order to protect players and help them defend their rights. In order to learn more about player representation, we reached out to Marcel Feldkamp, also known as “Dexter”, whose company Prime Talent got acquired by the player agency Press X Agency in order to represent players and help them at their contract negotiations. In this interview, we talked with Dexter about the Press X Agency and the importance of player representation in esports.
When did you make the decision to become an esports Agent? Did any experience you had as a pro player influence that decision?
I decided to become an esports agent roughly 1 1/2 years ago, while I was still working on the interview / commentating side of things. The experience as a pro player I had with me and multiple other players helped me push it even more. You might be the smartest or best player in your team, but could have absolutely no idea about contract language – especially if you are as young as 17 years old. I have met a lot of people who have caught themselves in a bad contract situation at least once, so I decided to do something about it. Often times it’s too late to help out anyone and we are getting questions like: “Hey I signed this contract and have a problem with this, can you help?”. Needless to say that we can’t do anything after this point and players should get agents before signing dumb things.
You freelanced in many different jobs in esports after stepping down as a pro player. What was your personal motivation towards representing and helping players find the best environment possible?
I have experienced the great side of esports when I was still a player and I have experienced the bad side of esports with shady contracts, not getting paid and even worse things. Snoopeh announced that he wants to build a player union that would help players and push towards better player rights. But it would have been too late for most of the players by now, so I decided to partner up and take things in my own hands. My goal is to bring the most value to players so they do not have to worry about anything but the game. Meanwhile, I still enjoy the freedom of working on things I love and not being restricted to one team only – the choice was pretty simple for me to build an agency that focuses on that.
What are the goals of Press X Agency?
The goal is very simple: To bring as much value as possible to our players and clients and be the best at what we do. We specialize in developing branded content, sponsorship activations, data analytics, and esports talent representation. We believe in partnering with like minded brands and talent to engage audiences authentically through innovative campaigns and expert consultation while also giving esports athletes the best possible representation they can have. I believe every single pro player, if willing, can have a career in esports after they’ve retired as a player. We will help them push towards it through our rich network of experience and relationships.
The switch to franchising in North America includes a players association. Do you think this might improve the environment for professionals in the field? If so, how?
Honestly, I have not heard that many things about the players association yet, so I can’t really comment on it. In theory, it should help out players by a lot. If the players ever need to communicate to riot or owners then the association is a perfect tool to channel all thoughts through professionals. Time will tell how useful this one will turn out to be for players. But I’m excited for something like this in esports.
Besides all the difficulties Riot is having in finding the right format for the future of the EU LCS, the players have been left aside. Would a players association solve this problem? Where else do you think we can serve the needs for the European talent?
I think a players association in Europe is a lot more difficult to provide than it is in North America. Denmark already has announced a pro player association for Danish players so I think moving forward esports will definitely need to localize things in Europe. We will see a bigger shift in Europe especially if Riot pushes towards regional leagues. I believe European esports is 3-4 years behind North America in terms of structure and money. It will take some time for changes to carry over but I have high hope that more high level brands will engage esports very soon.
Looking into the next year, where the financial difference between the European and American market could become even bigger, where do you see a solution to make the environment in Europe better for players? Is the Salary the biggest current problem or is Europe lacking of investment in structure?
You see North American organizations being valued at more than $100MM, tons of NBA teams and celebrities getting involved. In Europe you have football clubs pulling out of the League while the 4 best teams wanted to move to NA. There is no easy solution to this and declining viewership certainly does not help. Sponsors often work with local budgets in each respective country so the numbers you have are much more limited. While player salaries are a really big talking point I don’t think European organizations are focused as much on staff and environment as North American organizations. While European teams might perform better, NA definitely provides a much much better environment to grow as a person.
How important is player representation by an agency today in esports?
I’m still surprised we have not seen anyone properly sue a player yet, with how big the contracts are becoming. I totally believe that representation is something everyone should have and leverage their worth. Branding is the ultimate leverage after all and we have players that can reach over Millions of people. Players should not be crunching numbers and leave the branding / sales / marketing part to people who do it for a living – their job depends on how good they are at video games only.
Is the PressXagency mostly focusing only on major regions? Or do you see yourself scouting talent from minor/wildcard regions and bring them into the spotlight?
I can totally see us representing multiple regions in the future, but we need to build a solid foundation beforehand. Without me, I don’t think our company would focus on the European side of representation but I’m bringing in a very wealthy and connected network which makes it a lot easier to operate that way. There are many players who want to go to NA to live the American dream. I’m happy to assist and facilitate that.
In games like CS:GO or PUBG organizations have looked at Brazil multiple times for Talent. Is there a specific reason we don’t see any kind of scouting in minor regions in League of Legends nowadays?
Player base. The bigger the player base the bigger your talent pool to chose from. While I think Brazil is amazing and has some of the best fan culture in the entire World, their league is too underdeveloped compared to LCS to nurture talent properly. This will probably change in the future. But it’s also part of the reason why you have not seen any European team importing a North American player.
Do you think the import rule in LoL should be updated so minor region players would become more interesting?
I think the import rule is there to protect viewership. If there wouldn’t be an import rule we would be having at least 3 or 4 Non English speaking teams. I don’t see that being of help to create interesting storylines for English speaking people because a lot of personality will be lost in translation. On the purely competitive side of things, we should totally get rid of it and attract the best talent possible without restrictions. OWL does not have it for example. I can make a case for both rules. But in the end, I would believe that getting rid of the import restrictions would be the best for the League if the goal is to become the best team and have a shot at winning Worlds.
If you could rewrite the rule, what should the import rules look like for 2018 for League of Legends?
Import rules are strict and teams like TSM have a big advantage with Bjergsen being a resident. It is crazy that it also drives up his value and other organizations who might do a better job at scouting talent are harmed and restricted in their operations. They can only import 2 people so I would suggest removing them all together. The more people living the American dream the better!
Thanks Marcel for taking your time to do this interview with us!