Toronto was host to some of the most exciting and competitive Rainbow Six Siege gameplay this past weekend at the Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo (EGLX). The best players from across the country competed for a $15,000 prize pool presented by Ubisoft. Among the cheering crowds of fans was none other than Ubisoft Canada’s Esports and Communications Manager Adam Climan.
For the unfamiliar, Ubisoft has worked tirelessly in the past few years to promote and foster growth within the esports community, and this is clearly evident in the Canadian market. TheGamer had the opportunity to sit down with Climan during the hectic but exciting EGLX event in Toronto this last weekend to discuss how he envisions the current Canadian esports ecosystem, as well as its future potential through Rainbow Six Siege.
This Weekend’s Rainbow Six Finals Are Looking Fantastic. What Are You Most Excited For?
Adam Climan: In short, I was looking forward to seeing some of these new teams get on stage for the first time in front of a live audience. I’ve been following their progress since the Winners Stage 2, and now to see them take the stage and actually make it this far, I’m excited to see if we’re potentially going to have a new champion. [Team] Yes has been a surprisingly strong team. For me it was just exciting to see some fresh faces and see the competition flair up.
Ubisoft has grown in the past few years as an esports leader, with clear strides towards being accessible. The FAM program, a Canadian exclusive series designed to help celebrate gamers’ passion by rewarding them with unique experiences, seems like one of the strongest ways that Ubisoft has done this. How do you feel about the progress of the FAM series to date, and is there anything new we can expect in the future?
The FAM series was really born [because] we want to get in front of more people, more gamers, and we don’t feel that you have you be a professional gamer to be involved with esports. Esports can be accessible to everyone, just in the same way that you can watch the NHL and see that highest tier if you want to watch Hockey, or you can just pick up a ball and some sticks and have street hockey. So, the FAM series has really taken off, allowing us to partner with some of these great venues, great organizations that run events in their own communities, and has given us the opportunity to branch out to these communities that we do not get to see as often as we would like. So, for me it's really a thrill to see it taking off and work with these new partnerships, whether it's with a big organization and big venues, or smaller ones that are more regionalized. To see those gamers get excited for a show and see that these were sanctioned as part of the Ubisoft program, has really been a thrill.
Some of these great organizations in the FAM program are Esports Central and Waves E-Gaming. Along with these organizations and running monthly Rainbow Six competitions, what else do you think could be done to attract more long-term engagement?
A lot of that has to do with team programming, whether it be our national programs, whether it be our partnerships with these organizations and vendors, it’s just to keep the story going. The idea is that today we’re going to culminate our Canada Nationals, but that doesn’t mean we’ll then be quiet for months and months at a time. We want to make sure that we always have something exciting to show and share, whether its very community driven or pro driven. So, for us it's really that focus on working without partners and keeping that engagement, working with those teams, and creating more and more opportunities to play, and if you’re a viewer, giving you more opportunities to enjoy programming.
Regarding the Rainbow Six Canada Nationals, the intent was clearly to find the best Canadian competitors and help usher them into the professional scene at the World level, how would you gauge the success of that, and the effort to push them onto a world stage?
In terms of getting these teams exposure, some of them are from great organizations like PsykoPaths, which is wonderful. Others are teams that basically just got put together because they signed up for competition. Having been able to watch these teams grow and track their success, and whether they were strong players to begin with or happened to be good naturally and made their way, we’re excited to watch them further grow. On that level I do think it has been successful, because we’re giving these guys some screen time, and these will start to become names that people will start to identify with. You’ve seen that there is a lot of love for certain teams out there: Thread the Needle, PsykoPaths, obviously Team Canada, you know, you watch the feeds and you see people getting behind these teams, whether they know the teams personally or otherwise. There has been a strong level of attachment, and that to me is a great way to gauge success, because it shows that people are caring.
And so the second part of the same question –How do you think that’s going to help promote them on the world stage, because Canada is certainly a smaller esports presence in the world?
I’ll start by saying that Canada has some catching up to do in terms of esports. Obviously, we don’t have the population like the US, but even in terms of our development against the US, or Australia, we need to push this harder so we can get this sort of Canadian so that they gravitate towards our brand. All that to say, in terms of getting these teams to a higher level we definitely have a lot to do, we need to develop this talent, work with these teams, and give them an opportunity to play. And then, by showing our support for Canadian players, we are then able to help them earn their way up to the higher-level leagues. I would love to see a Canadian team one day playing at the pro league level, who knows that may well happen, but definitely it's going to come through these types of programs that foster that grown and help them earn that spot.
With those goals of seeing a Canadian team at the highest levels, what does Canadian esports look like to you five years from now, imagining an ideal situation for the year 2024?
We’re always looking towards the future and to find something really great. I really believe that the Canadian market is going to start growing at an exponential rate in the coming years. I think we’re going to see stronger Canadian players step up, some more Canadian teams step up, and more great Canadian content stepping up that appeals to that market, so whether you’re a team that is based in Canada or just Canadian players that are making their success abroad, as we already see some, I can definitely see that the market is going to start booming and we’ll end up taking our place among our American cousins.
Esports are predominantly a young person’s game, but what about life after playing competitively? Has Ubisoft considered looking at also working on a “Life after esports” type of project that addresses balancing passion for games but other goals as well?
In short, we understand that player growth is something that has to be considered. I can’t speak right now to what we have planned for the future necessarily, but that is something that should be on the radar, and hopefully as time goes on we’ll be able to develop some more programs. We have some great new ideas coming for 2020 that hopefully start to develop exactly these kinds of programs.
Personally, who are your favorite Rainbow Six characters?
This is a fun question. I am terrible, and I have been playing this game since when we were still marketing it in 2015 prior to launch. I played an awful lot of it working with the retail partners and things like that at the time. I’m pretty bad, but I’ve always had an attachment to Valkyrie, who I was always pretty good with. Sledge, I know he is one of the originals, but I still like him quite a bit. Strangely enough, I’ve always tried to develop my skills with Doc, and it never, ever, ever took, but I always believed I was going to make it work this time.
This concluded our interview, and in the end, it was fantastic to hear everything Climan had to say about the future of esports in Canada. Growing the player base of competitors is no simple task, but having someone so clearly passionate about the long term success of Canadian esports is a fundamental part of making this a reality, and Climan is genuinely all-in on making the scene the best that it can be.
The Rainbow Six Canada Nationals was a great success this past weekend, and now it is exciting to see what lies ahead!