Andrey 'Reynad' Yanyuk
Carlo Cruz | Red Bull Content Pool
Carlo Cruz | Red Bull Content Pool

How esports owner Yanyuk went from a poker player to a CEO

Red Bull Staff

Interview with Tempo Storm boss on the rise of the esports genre.

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redbull.com

Andrey “Reynad” Yanyuk is a budding entrepreneur, the owner of esports team Tempo Storm, and previously ranked among Forbes magazine’s 30 to watch under the age of 30.

Here, he explains about running his own company at such a young age, signing new players and a past life as a poker player.

How empowering is it to have control over your own destiny with your own company in such a booming part of the sporting world?

Everyone has control over their own destiny. If anything, owning the company feels liberating. Tempo Storm gives me the freedom to take an idea and execute it on a large scale whether it’s in esports, production, marketing or game design.

Do you think prospective signings have more trust in you when negotiating a contract because of your age and success?

I think the trust comes more from the fact I’ve lived through what they’re living. Not many CEOs in this space have that. Pro players are focused on the grind of competing, content creation and brand building. Many prospective signings see me as someone who they can learn from when it comes to these things.

Yanyuk with Team Tempo Storm at Red Bull Team Brawl 2017

Marv Watson | Red Bull Content Pool

What set of attributes do you look for when signing new esports players?

First and foremost, we take competitive focus and marketability into account. Some players focus their energy on making great content and building a brand around it. Other players put every effort into competing at the highest level. Some players do both. We are drawn to players who are the absolute best at what they focus on, whether that’s content creation or competition. Beyond that, we look favourably on a love of the Tempo brand, being well-spoken, being a good brand ambassador and working well in a team environment.

What positive aspects of poker did you take into your successful Magic and Hearthstone careers?

Across all card games, the three things that separate the great players from the best are resource management, risk assessment and creativity. I think that all of these things translated well to business too.

Will you phase out the playing eventually or do you still love the adrenaline boost of competing at the top level?

I love the feeling of competing. Sometimes, I have to remind the kids who runs the show too! I’ll pop in to compete once in a while and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.

Team Tempo Storm at Red Bull Team Brawl 2017

Marv Watson | Red Bull Content Pool

Which esports do you think can emerge out of the pack to rival the success of ones like Hearthstone, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm?

I have a good feeling about Rocket League. More than any other game, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to what makes great esports. It's easy to understand when people tune in for the first time, it has a high skill ceiling, it's accessible to players of all ages and on multiple platforms, and it has a strong esports fanbase that was grown organically. That's not something that money can buy, and it ensures lasting success in a way that top-down model leagues can only dream of. I think that Battle Royale games are also an untapped goldmine.

Are you surprised at the phenomenal growth of global tournaments and the huge sponsorship pouring into esports over the last few years?

I'm not surprised because the rise of esports is an inevitability. At the same time, I think a lot of the money that has come in over the last two years has ill-conceived motives. As esports matures, I don't believe it will follow a traditional sports model like most investors think. The popularity of different esports titles will constantly wax and wane but the overall size of the esports pie will only keep growing.

Are there any retro games from the 1980s and 1990s that you enjoy playing?

The original Pokemon games are still some of the greatest ever made. They were a big part of my childhood, and still hold up to this day.

How can the audience tune in to watch Game Changers/CYMI?

We'll be streaming it live on Twitch - twitch.tv/reynad27 - and we'll also be bouncing hosts back and forth with twitch.tv/redbull.

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redbull.com

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