Chris Smith
Committee: PR & Communications, Membership (Stakeholders), Membership (Players)

After servicing the esports, gaming and technology industry through a plethora of roles, I found it time to facilitate the establishment Australia and New Zealand’s peak body - a group that will represent the best interests of esports in our region. Professionalism, recognition and sustainable growth is important in any business and even more so in the currently-infant landscape of professional gaming.

With a strong emphasis on education and networking, I assisted in the creation of EGAA in order to fulfill our mission statement of EGAA resulting “in a unified, supportive scene that nurtures stability, growth and fairplay for esports in Australia and New Zealand.”

Nick Vanzetti
Founding Board Member

Having come from a player’s background in esports since 2002, I first got involved in the business side of esports to help bridge the gap between games marketing and competitive play. There was a huge gap in conditions and expectations between brands or publishers, together with their Marketing & PR functions, and how the most fair, competitive tournaments  should be run for the best players. Basically, some of the most prolific esports tournaments in the earlier years were run as a marketing tool to build hype around a new game title or content release, with little care for the competitive integrity, structure or rulesets that helped crown the best team or player. After 16 years in and around the esports ecosystem in Australia & New Zealand, I feel the businesses I’ve built and publishers we have worked with have definitely helped bring a more authentic, fair experience to how we see esports tournaments run today. Along this journey, I have seen the industry gain a higher profile not only within the video gaming category, but also in mainstream credibility and acceptance.

I have joined the EGAA to continue to help shape the esports ecosystem outside of those areas I am involved. I feel there is some work to be done in helping stabilise and support our flourishing sport. I truly believe this body can help uphold standards and best practices for many facets of the industry while facilitating the growing needs of its many new players, teams, businesses and other stakeholders. I feel I can contribute to EGAA based on my years of experience across many touch points in games and esports.

Mathew Jessep
Interim CEO, Founding Board Member 2017

I was a gamer back in the 1980’s, first on an Atari 2600 console, then moving to a Commodore 64 (yes, I’m that old). While still playing (now on a PlayStation 4, though getting my butt kicked by my kids), I grew up initially into a marketer (Bachelor of Commerce, Western Sydney University) on my way now to being a lawyer/business adviser (Diploma in Law, LPAB, University of Sydney) and athlete manager (NRL accredited).

As a young marketer in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I coordinated sports sponsorships for properties such as the Wallabies, NSW Waratahs, V8 Supercars, and Olympic Athletes. More recently as a lawyer, I have built built my own practice focused on and dedicated to sports, media, and entertainment issues and clients.  This exposure to traditional sports and entertainment law has, along with my background on the commercial side of sports properties as well as an athlete representative, informed my approach to the significant volume of work I now do in esports.

My work in esports has quickly seen me advise and assist clients across the scene, including: players; managers; coaches; teams; and tournament organisers. Quite early on I saw a real need for a national body (if not a global one) that can represent, inform, support, and provide a transparent framework that might direct the various stakeholders in the esports scene for its mutual benefit, stability, and growth - a national governing body (using sports terminology) or a peak industry body (using entertainment business concepts) to regulate the various interactions between market participants and ensure that the scene can professionalise. The Esports Games Association Australia Limited aims to be that national body.

Quite serendipitously, I got introduced to Nick Vanzetti and Dave Harris in late 2016. They both seemed like nice people and from their invitation I became involved on the Board of EGAA in early 2017 to assist the other Board Members with structural, legal, governance, regulatory, and constitutional matters. Under my direction, a constitution has been drafted that lays the foundation for a robust and flexible member based and driven organisation.  I have now stepped down from the Board to continue the operational roll-out of the EGAA as Interim CEO while the Board sources a more permanent CEO to lead the executive function moving forward.

If you are involved in esports in Australia, I hope you like what we’ve built for you, and I look forward to being of service.

Dave Harris
Founding Board Member

Having spent many years in traditional sports, both in team and governing body roles, I have seen many challenges which could be avoided had things been structured differently.  In traditional sports people sometimes feel as if they would do anything to “start again” removing all the legacy issues that plague it.  Esports is in a unique position to be able to structure the industry effectively from near the start, aligning all stakeholders to grow the sector in a unified way.

At the same time that lack of structure at the moment is impeding growth as sponsors and investors are hesitant to become involved in what is sometimes referred to as “the Wild West”.  It has been a great experience over the year being involved with the group setting up the foundations of the EGAA and truly hope that stakeholders across the industry choose to become involved as well to help shape the future of esports in the region.

Daniel Chlebowczyk
Founding Board Member

From the beginning of my time in esports, a pathway that started well before but solidified in 2007 as I played in events as a pro player, I've observed the need for an organisation which can provide a unifying point for the diverse communities across esports and competitive play.

Having taken a journey for more than 10 years, from player to events organiser, and now working in the space to help facilitate teams with sponsors, running events and leagues, or helping grow awareness of the space through both communications and my own writing on the scene, the passion for esports is as strong as ever.

Recognising we have a large, disparate, but interconnected set of communities and interests, the aims of EGAA match my own for the esports industry. Providing leadership while being inclusive, to demystify esports while engaging with and supporting the grass roots.

I am pleased to join EGAA to broaden its profile in the region, while remaining authentic and shining a light on the communities at the core. We aim to help players, teams, organisers, spectators and supporters with their own development in the scene, and provide a structure for people to communicate and coordinate.

This is something I believe will drive the passion of the many great people in the space or looking for a way to take part, to improve the environment for all.  

Josh Edwards
Founding Board Member

After over a decade navigating the esports landscape as a player, leader and sponsor, I have experienced the formative years of esports in Australia. I bore witness to the comings-and-goings of organisations, events and player talent. As a player, I experienced fair and equitable treatment and, just as often, not so equitable treatment. My experiences have led me to two key points. Firstly, there is a clear knowledge gap between what players expect and what sponsors and organisations deliver. Secondly, as sponsors and organisation owners, if we do not support and nurture our player base, treating them fairly--with clear cut expectations, we will not succeed.

I have joined EGAA to act as the voice of the players. With my experience as a player and a community sponsor I believe I can empathise with the player position and vocalise their needs. My aim is for EGAA to close the knowledge gap between player expectation and reality, by educating players, defining their rights and encouraging organisations and sponsors to treat our talent with the respect and dignity afforded to traditional athletes.

Jason Spiller
Founding Board Member

I have had the absolute privilege of watching the growth of esports in Australia and New Zealand over the last two decades, from the cobbled together events and LAN’s of the 90’s through to today’s massive broadcast events. During that time, I have been honored to serve as Team Manager to the earliest incarnation of the eblacks while they represented the nation at the World Cyber Games. Built tournaments and events from the ground up and now take pride in supporting the amazing players, owners and organizations of today’s thriving esports industry. I have seen the potential of the region, the Champions we have produced and the hard working teams that helped them get there. Champions and teams that will need more support in the years ahead.

Moving forward, we have a unique opportunity. Other regions have in part paved a road for us to follow, to learn from their successes and their failures. Right now, we are at a moment of transition, new companies, groups and individuals are excited to get involved in the esports movement, bringing opportunities and growth potential. But, to succeed, it must also be a moment of reflection, to remember what makes esports unique, inclusive and aspirational while integrating these new elements into the industry.  

New Zealand has a big part to play in this transition, this growth in the regions esports industry. This is where I joined the EGAA in early 2017, to not only bring my industry experience and knowledge to the board but to be the voice of Kiwi gamers. The EGAA represents a chance for both Australia and New Zealand to ensure the sustainable and positive growth of esports in the region because we are unequivocally stronger together.