IAA Global Conference. 17 October. Bucharest Discovering esports: a talk with Robbie Douek, RFRSH Entertainment - IAA

Discovering esports: a talk with Robbie Douek, RFRSH Entertainment

For the n00b in computer gaming, how they'd call an uninitiated, learning about an entire industry grown out of this passion is quite intriguing. RFRSH Entertainment  is one of the largest players in this industry, organising huge events for the fans who, you've guessed already, come watch their favourite teams play on the computer. It can be Counter Strike or other very famous multiplayer games.

One of the most famous tournaments is BLAST Pro Series. Besides dealing with the organisational ordeals of such an event, RFRSH offers consultancy for companies looking to enter and succeed in the wildly growing and challenging esports market.

Robbie Douek, one of the key note speakers at the second edition of the IAA Global Conference shared a few insights with us,  just a few days before the Conference. Make sure not to miss him out, tickets are running low!

How do you think creativity can and will shape our world for the better?

There is not a day that goes by where I am not mesmerised by human creativity and how it has a positive impact on society and our world. Incredible technology making our day to day more efficient, safer and clean. Google safe driving cars, NEST camera's at home and the Ocean clean up operation, its all because of creative input from the human race, embracing technology to make it better place.

My kids are really into Michael Jackson they are 7 & 5, he died way before they were born, but they adore the rhythm of his songs, the creativity of the video's (which date now from an animation and production perspective), but most of all the messages. Anna loves Earth Song & Heal the World and Elie, Black and White and Man in the Mirror. Take those songs, take the messages, the sense, and you have creativity in a nutshell. The goal and purpose of those songs was to make the world a better place. Jackson was a creative genius.

So when i think about creativity its not just about sophisticated AI, Blockchain and flying drones, but its the core essence of how people think and react and what they do with this information that will shape our world for the better.

Could you briefly tell us about RFRSH and its strategy within the e-sports industry?

RFRSH Entertainment was founded in late 2016 with the overall ambition to open up the amazing, but somewhat gated world of esports to the mainstream audience. We see a huge potential in esports, not just for the growing number of core fans and players, but as digital live entertainment for a much wider mass audience.

The company acts both as a business consultancy for clients strategies for companies looking to enter and succeed in the wildly growing esports market and it also organises events for certain e-sports, such as Counter Strike. 

What are those events like: how many people take part, are they online & offline?


To get a feel of such an event, you can check out the Blast PRO Series Aftermovie:


Are you also into any of the esports? Or do you have computer game you enjoy playing?

Joining RFRSH has certainly opened my eyes to esports and the great entertainment value of watching it with my kids. It is rather addictive, but I also must admit, that I am not personally any good at playing these games. For me it’s much more an audience experience and something social I enjoy doing with the kids and even colleagues.

Do you find that the players, the professional gamers, think the world differently than the non-players, that they maybe have the brain routed differently? For example, in some research it was said that kids that play driving simulation type of games may have a better coordination & sense of orientation.

Actually at RFRSH we did a big piece with the national TV station in Denmark, having the Astralis players go through a range of reaction, analytical and cognitive tests, and it is quite obvious that these guys are able to analyze a complex situation, make decisions and communicate same to their team mates much faster than “normal” people. Some of the tests were made at Copenhagen University, who compared the results with the general population, and one of the players actually had a faster reaction time than they had ever registered before. That does tell you a lot about how the brain works and can be trained.

Photo: Astralis team after having won the Faceit competition. Source: Faceit.

Could you maybe tell us a bit about the trend(s) you can foresee in this industry?

What we see is an industry moving towards the mainstream, and the mainstream being very adaptive to esports - if it is presented in a way that a non core audience can relate to. This goes for the live experience at esports events and for broadcasts online and even on linear tv. Esports as an industry is growing 30-40 percent a year, and we expect this to continue as the general audience is becoming more aware and as producers, tournament owners and broadcasters are becoming more aware of the mainstream market. This is where RFRSH is a market leader; bringing esports into the mainstream and vice versa.