2020 USF Esports Summit Settles on Speakers, Leaders in the Gaming Industry
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (October 12, 2020) -- The list of speakers is set for the 2020 USF Esports Summit and it includes leaders in an industry that is growing into a multi-billion enterprise that one day may rival professional sports. The summit will be a virtual affair this year and the organizers of the event, the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program and VSG, expect a large turnout.
The summit takes place on Oct. 14. To register click here.
"This year, the lineup of speakers for our second annual USF Esports Summit showcases the breadth and depth of the esports industry,” said Michelle Harrolle, director of the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program in the Muma College of Business. “We have veterans such as Ann Hand from Super League Gaming, Todd Harris with Skillshot Media and Matt Marcou, from EA Sports, along our own alumnus Jordan Bellar with G2 Esports.
“We have a set of very diverse topics ranging from partnerships and productions to talent management and women in esports,” Harrolle said. “It is going to be epic."
One of the main speakers is Ann Hand, chair and CEO of Super League Gaming, a leader in bringing live esports entertainment and experiences directly to the over 2 billion gamers around the world. She has been with the company since 2015. Under her leadership, Super League Gaming has seen exponential growth in its audience size, content production and community engagement.
Prior to taking control of the company, Hand served as CEO of clean tech start-up Project Frog and held a variety of senior executive positions with BP. She received a bachelor’s degree in economics from DePauw University and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management along with executive education at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University and Stanford University.
Super League Gaming is among the most widely used platforms for amateur gamers. The company operates leagues in partnership with the publishers of top-tier games such as League of Legends, Minecraft and Clash Royale, with each Super League season culminating in its signature nationwide City Champs tournaments.
Before taking the job at Super League Gaming, she researched the industry.
“I kept looking out at the audience at who the players were, and I saw people of all ages,” she said in a 2019 interview in Esports Observer. “I saw girls and boys, young adult women and men and the wide psychographic mix of what is really a mainstream consumer offering.”
Jordan Bellar is the business development manager with G2 Esports, widely considered among the top brands in professional gaming, providing world-class, digital-first, always-on entertainment for millions of fans globally. Bellar is a USF alumnus, having earned an MBA and a master’s degree from the Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program.
Bellar previously was the manager of global esports partnerships for the Harris-Blitzer Sports & Entertainment portfolio of properties including the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center, Dignitas, and the 76ers Gaming Club. He currently is responsible for the development of innovative marketing partnerships that help brands reach millions of fans around the world, blending the cultures of competitive gaming, traditional sports, influencers and music to create world-class content and once-in-a-lifetime fan experiences.
Matt Marcou is the commissioner of Madden NFL with EA Sports. In this role, he has organized competition for more than 15 years. After competing in his first console tournament at just 9 years old, Marcou embarked on a decorated career as a top-level competitive gamer, competitive gaming team owner and most recently as the Madden commissioner for Electronic Arts’ Competitive Gaming Division.
Before joining EA, Marcou kicked off the Riot Games eSports program by creating an organized play program for League of Legends, which included the League of Legends World Championship. He later designed the League of Legends Championship Series, the first video game competition to emulate a traditional sports league.
Todd Harris is the co-founder of Atlanta-based Hi-Rez Studios, one of the largest video game studios in the Southeast, and CEO of Skillshot Media, the largest dedicated esports production company on the East Coast.
He submitted his first computer game to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of his college application, since, he said, writing games was more fun than writing essays. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the same university, Harris entered the software engineering industry, eventually managing product development at NCR, Radiant Systems, and BlueCube Software.
In 2005, Harris left FinTech for the games industry when he co-founded Hi-Rez Studios and developed titles that included the mythology-themed, MOBA SMITE and the fantasy team-based shooter Paladins, both played as competitive esports.
To view the complete speaker list and read their bios, click here.