Lynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
After the final heads-up match of the online phase of the Global Poker League’s inaugural season, Olivier Busquet, (LA Sunset) with a “slim-as-can-be 2-1 win” over Tom Marchese of the NY Rounders, said during his interview; “The GPL has been tons of fun: the webcams, the whole team aspect, following the standings, I’ve totally enjoyed it and gotten a lot of poker practice. Everyone now is ready for the live portion; I think it will be a blast.”
So now I’m ready to be convinced, knowing that many of the team members prefer live play to online, that watching the heads-up cross-conference matches will bring its own kind of excitement. I have to believe that the GPL has prepared as well for this phase as they did for the online launch phase (notwithstanding Dreyfus’ tweet about building a studio in just 10 days). It’s hard to imagine that Dreyfus and his team are counting on last minute preparations, so I’m assuming the production values will be top-notch, there will be well-thought out extras and some unanticipated surprises, and hopefully enough fans have bought into the team concept that they can keep that crucial part of the League, the team competition, alive and growing.
But once the in studio Summer Series (approximately 48 heads-up matches over eight weeks) are over, and each team has played every other team in the opposing conference, and the four top teams in the Americas Conference and the four in the Eurasian Conference have been determined . . . then what?
Well, as just about everyone who’s been following the Global Poker League has discovered, Dreyfus is taking the GPL Playoffs to TwitchCon San Diego, for what is being called three days of unprecedented action. The top four teams from both conferences will square off to see who will progress to the Wembley finals in November. According to Dreyfus, The Cube® will be unveiled for the first time. In other words, poker, and specifically the GPL, will be large part of this video gaming convention.
All along, Dreyfus had talked about wanting to make poker bigger, wanting it to go mainstream and reach a much wider and younger demographic. Is that audience made up of video gamers? I was flabbergasted to learn that more than twice as many people viewed a competitive video game tournament last year than watched Super Bowl 50!
“Last year, more than 225 million people watched competitive gaming (eSports) and the passion, engagement and size of this audience only continues to grow,” said Mike Sepso, senior vice president of Activision Blizzard Media Networks and co-founder of Major League Gaming.
Apparently, the alignment of poker and eSports is one that Dreyfus has been pushing for a long time. His company, Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, spent almost a year and millions of dollars to develop the new proprietary game of HoldemX, described as “a whole new poker game that tries to build a bridge between poker and eSports.”
“With HoldemX, we are also going to target a whole new demographic that has been largely untouched by the poker industry; we want to engage the new generation of video game players who haven’t been into poker yet.”
I’m out of my league on this — in completely over my head. I was just starting to get a grasp on playing poker and forming allegiances with my two favorite teams in the GPL. I naively thought that people like me were the audience for this league: sports enthusiasts who would learn to enjoy “sportified” poker. But I’ve come to learn that I’m part of a very small demographic.
Suddenly all the talk is turning to eSports and competitive video gaming. I thought I knew very little about poker but was eager to learn. I’m positive I know nothing about video games and the gamer generation.
For now, I will continue to follow the GPL as it does what it needs to do to work its way into our hearts and minds. I’m hoping it doesn’t leave recent converts like me behind.