Meet The Member: “Brands Need To Define Clear KPI On Their Esports Strategy”, Says CEO Of Nicecactus

May 26, 2020

iSportconnect spoke to Mike Hessabi, CEO of Nicecactus, about the changes the brand has seen during the Covid-19 period, how Nicecactus works and the key for brands as they look to enter the world of Esports.

Explain Nicecactus for those of us who may not know?

At Nicecactus we’re an all-in-one Esports online platform that helps amateur and semi-pro Esports players engage competitively and that can equip them with tools to compete, train and track performance and improve their game. But even those who don’t have these aspirations can come to our platform and play in weekly tournaments and competitions for prizes.

We see ourselves as an innovation solution, which allows millions of amateur Esports players the chance to progress and become professionals. Esports is above all a start-up industry and in my opinion every company in Esports is a start-up because it’s still a young industry.

We collect data for professional Esports teams in order to help them scout players and find the best performing talent in a more structured manner and at a lower cost. Our tournaments also provide corporate customers with a way to reach gamers while enabling us to recruit new players for the platform.

More than 1.1million – The number of registered players with Nicecactus

Esports attracts brands keen to interact with 12-35 year olds, many of whom want to become professional players, so the ultimate goal of ours is to allow them to improve every day to become the best. We have over a million registered players and run more than 1500 tournaments each month.

So how does the player development side of the company work?

Our training consists of several programmes addressing players of all levels. We are focusing on three main games – League of Legends, Fortnite and CS:Go and our development plan is to later add more games

The method is based almost on the traditional sport methodology: the player must perform exercises and repeat the same action several times in order to be considered as having completed the training. They are guided step by step with a practical approach and we are also providing necessary theory with videos, tips and quizzes for each exercise. In the coming weeks we’re going to deliver a performance center dashboard in order to give players the ability to identify their progress, strengths & weaknesses. It is a one of a kind training methodology approach globally.

We have our own eSports arena and content production facilities in Barcelona where we organise bootcamps and other events which connects the amateur players to the pro sport.

Do you think that the coronavirus period will now see more brands entering the world of Esports sponsorship?

We’re talking about something that’s grown even in the last two months since the beginning of this crisis, a huge interest from other brands is coming. I don’t think it’s changed anything going forwards, but it has sped it up and drawn more attention to it.

Even prior to the Coronavirus period many global brands understood that the new economy is shifting toward Esports. Non-endemic brands such as Pringles, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Toyota, Renault and many others have already started strongly in this advertising / sponsorship space.

230% – “The increase in number of registrations during Covid-19, with also 150% increase in participation in our tournaments. The progression is spectacular.” – Nicecactus co-Founder Alexandre Amoukteh

This period is simply a catalyst which will reveal the possibilities even more to not only sponsors, but also traditional sports organisations that Esports is not only the future, but already the present. In Asia, China and South Korea in particular, Esports is already a massive communication pathway for
brands to engage their key audiences. US and European are progressively getting more aware of the advertising possibilities offered by Esports and this Millennials & Young Adults community. 

Millennials and Gen-Z are constantly playing all over the world week in week out and it is only logical that brands would wish to engage them into their passion points. On average, according to Limelight Networks (2019), typical gamers are playing for 7 hours and 7 minutes each week– so the potential for brand engagement is tremendous.

2000 – The number of online Esports tournament hosted per month by Nicecactus, the most in EMEA.

Prior to Coronavirus we were working with brands such Microsoft, in both the US and Australia, and Toyota Europe, our Esports charity campaigns with RMC, L’Equipe and French broadcaster Canal+ have also helped us considerably to further educate European brands. We’re now talking with leading European, Middle Eastern and African brands on how to organise their own Esports strategies and tournaments. Also, some brands want to create their own Esport Team.

What do you believe is key for brands to succeed with Esports sponsorship?

The popularity of the Esports sector exists thanks in particular to advertisers. Many brands have given up on engaging 12-35 year olds through traditional media such as television and the press. To put it simply young people, Gen-Z, no longer watch television. They follow information on social networks and in very short formats. Esports allows them to create their own language, their own communities, their own emotions, while differentiating themselves from the passions of the older generation. Novelty is key for this audience. 

The first key is a genuine approach. The brands need to enhance the experiences of the audience they target. Millennials and Gen-Z need to feel that the brands are part of the experience of the gaming ecosystem.

Secondly, brands need to define clear KPI on their Esports strategy.


Most of the time they need help to educate themselves on how to optimise their presence into esports. In many aspects, sport sponsorship and esports sponsorship are pretty similar. The major difference is that Esports campaigns rely much more on the digital strategy of the brands. You need to have a clear vision of the storytelling within Esports. We’re in a position at Nicecactus to provide them with insights and help them to build their Esports strategy at scale.

Is the growth Esports is showing in this period sustainable when traditional sports return?

The millions of gamers today are consuming more gaming as entertainment than traditional sports, which have now realised the large opportunities offered by Esports towards their own fans. We will see if they carry on with their marketing initiatives or if they take just an opportunistic approach.

However, Esports gamers around the world will grow more and more. The latest number of players for Fortnite and other games like FIFA and LoL are reflecting that the Esports global phenomena is here to stay! We’ve seen tremendous growth in our company during the Covid-19 period and we
anticipate that this growth will continue and will be sustainable.