We speak to Lennart Bobzien, European PES League and Digital Manager at Konami, at the recent PES League world finals at the Emirates Stadium in London.
We ask him about the PES League, opportunities in PES and what’s next for the growing esport…
Please tell us about yourself and the recent PES World Finals…
I’m looking after the whole PES League, organising the tournaments, structuring the league, everything around PES.
There’s a $350,000 world finals prize pool – and $200,000 goes to the world champion. In Europe we spit the season into two parts, season 1 took place between December and January, then we had the regional finals taking place in Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Season 2 finished at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool.
What’s your view on the UK talent in PES?
Unfortunately the UK players didn’t make it to the world finals. I think it was a bit unfortunate as we had two UK players at Anfield and they both got drawn into the same group. They didn’t make it.
Those two players are quite good players, we know them from the past. Dex was in the world finals last year in Milan. But the level of skill is so high so unfortunately they didn’t make it [to the finals].
Are you going to do this annually? Will you change the format in the future?
Since PES comes out every year, we want to build esports competitions around that. Definitely for next year we already have plans around PES League, but what they exactly look like I can’t say right now. But we have plans and will announce more really soon.
Even structure-wise, it’s not set right now that the structure will be exactly the same next year. We might make a few changes, but that’s something we’ll announce at a later stage.
How can people get involved with PES in terms of casting and careers?
The main role is obviously getting involved in PES by playing actively. In addition to this, we’ve seen coaches are building around this – coaches who’ve played PES in the past and are slipping into management for example.
We’re also looking into casters. This year we had a variety of new casters so there are several options for getting involved in PES esports, not just playing the game.
You held the finals at the Emirates stadium in London. Will you come back to the UK in the future?
Definitely. This Arsenal stadium was great for us, it’s a great opportunity to run an event like this. Obviously it’s shown that events in a stadium are amazing – and we’re looking into options in the future to do something similar.
It could be in the UK, it could be in Germany, that’s something we’re looking around. It could be possible to come back to the UK.
Do you see EA and FIFA as a threat in esports, or is there room for both of you?
I’d say there is room for both games.
What we’d like to achieve with our tournaments is we want to give players a one in a lifetime experience to come to our events and be a part of it.
The main difference between the two games is the realism or reality we show in our game. If you see how the players play and score goals in PES, it reflects situations that can happen in real football. I think that’s one of the main differences between those two games.
On the other side, I think by working with clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, they’re great partnerships and that’s something we want to build on and bring it to another level.
Compared to the last year where we hosted in Milan in a bar area for the finals, now we’re coming to stadiums. Potentially in the future it could be something where we’re filling a venue, maybe not with 90,000 people but potentially with a few thousand people, which will be the next huge step for us.
In the UK?
It could be in the UK or in general, we haven’t finalised anything yet.
We will bring all the 16 players to Cardiff and have the opportunity to do a trophy opportunity on the main stage of the UCL Festival, at 3pm before the Champions League final, in the centre of Cardiff.
We will take the players to see the game live too. Previously we only gave tickets to the two finalists, but we feel the 16 players are the best PES players in the world and deserve to have the opportunity to watch the Champions League match in the stadium.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This year, especially now with the world finals taking place in London, it was a great and successful season. It has changed compared to previous years, it’s a different setup and we’ll definitely have exciting stuff coming up for the PES League season next year.