The Razer Invitational is one of the world’s biggest esports tournaments. It’s a global competition, featuring several different titles. The Invitational only started last year and has already gained quite a following. We caught up with Khang Thai, Razer’s Senior Esports Lead, to find out more about the Razer Invitational, their goals and what’s planned for the future.
Finding the pros
Esports wouldn’t be esports without pro players. Khang Thai told us that the Razer Invitational was designed to find pro players, wherever they may be. When we asked Khang to describe the Invitational in 10 words or less, he told us that “It’s about cultivating the next generation of pros from the grassroots level.”
Okay, that’s 12 words, but it succulently sums up why the Invitational was created. Not only does this competition ‘find’ pros, the format is setup to invite anyone and everyone. Khang said the Razer Invitational is a means to give players a platform to shine:
“This is a tournament that’s made for everyone to play […] the invitational really started off as a way for amateur players – tier 2 players, tier 3 levels players – to kind of shine. They’re looking for competitions and tournaments to play in, to better their skills, to get to that next level. But the spirit of the invitational has changed slightly. I think it’s actually more about finding that next generation of pros. And they can come from anywhere. Whether they’re people like myself, who are looking for competitive play, and think ‘hey, maybe I can actually be a pro someday.’ […] we want to make sure everyone has that chance to have fun and compete and potentially win some really cool prizes.”
Since the tournament is designed for everyone, there’s a bit of talent management that has to happen throughout the tournament. Khang says rather than simply winning, the Invitational is a chance to give players the visibility they may not have otherwise had. Those participants might even get the chance to play against the pros and better their skills.
For Gamers, By Gamers: Gaming for everyone
Razer’s mantra is “For Gamers, By Gamers.” Khang told us that’s what the Razer Invitational is all about too. It is a competition designed to be inclusive. When we asked if there were any professionals joining the competition he told us he was really surprised the pros had joined:
“I get pretty surprised that pros have joined in. I think the majority of the players who play in the tournament, I would say about 90% of them are amateur players. In the Rainbow Six that happened [recently] we had a pro team, and yeah they won, of course. But they actually went up against other teams who aren’t well known from different regions […] they actually put up a really good fight. So there’s talent out there waiting to be found. I think it’s really great when we can showcase talent from all across, from top to bottom, and the quality of play. People who may not be pros can actually come in and take a game or two off a pro. That must feel really good! And it feels that competitive fire.”
While there may be some pro teams that enter, the tournament is really geared towards giving amateurs a place to shine. Like many gaming companies, Razer wants to be inclusive, as Khang told us. “Our vision has always been to be really inclusive […] and we want to be there for the under-served community.”
Finding the right games
As a global company, and a global tournament, how does one choose games for this Invitational? Khang said it’s about choosing games that are relevant to the region where the competition is being played. The Razer Invitational ran in Southeast Asia, Latin America (LATAM) and Europe in 2020. This year, it opened to North America. Khang said choosing games is a balance between pro schedules and popular titles:
“Because we have professional teams across the globe, we kind of know what games in each region are really popular, and popular to watch. […] When we try to choose titles, it’s navigating around all these different competitive schedules. I think every year everyone knows that there are more tournaments popping up and we want to be able to make sure we can offer the community a place to play, whilst also making sure they still enjoy the professional tournaments they want to watch.”
This strategy seems to have worked, as the Razer Invitational has attracted large numbers for their competitions. We asked Khang to tell us about the response and participation rates from the community. He eagerly responded, saying “Oh it’s been so awesome! In our Fortnite event, we had close to 50-60,000 enter the tournament. In LATAM we had about 5,000, and North America reaching just about 5,000. There is a community that really wants this, that needs this.”
Since these tournaments are so big, Khang says it seems like new “regions are looking for the same kind of action too.” What does that mean for the future? Will there be an Invitational in a city near you? There certainly could be.
Learnings from 2020
Khang Thai also told us he and the team learned a lot from the 2020 Razer Invitational. From working 14 days straight in South East Asia to cheering from the sidelines, Khang says he really enjoyed the Invitational. Whilst he commented on the challenging aspects of the tournament – namely navigating around professional schedules – he said Razer really learned a lot about staying relevant:
“The learning is that Razer Invitational is not a cookie cutter event. I think it’s really paying attention to the community and the region we are executing in. It’s important we stay relevant, because if we introduce games that no one plays, or quality of play isn’t high, then you don’t have a lot of participation and we’re not going to have a successful event. So, it’s all about – Razer itself is all about the community: For Gamers By Gamers, so we want to make sure Razer Invitational is part of that spirit.”
Future of the Razer Invitational
When we asked Khang what the future of the tournament looks like, he remarked with a big laugh:
“Oh gosh! Pie in the sky: I think if we look at the expansion of Razer Invitational, what I would want to see if something even bigger. Whole regions looking to come and compete at the highest stage possible. Is it a Razer Worlds event? I’m not sure, but it sounds cool! Right? […] yes it’s about the next generation, but I think there’s a part of it where you’re always looking for the next step, and when you can play against some of your favourite players, that […] feels that fire, that competitive fire. And knowing you’re playing against the best is something we don’t see very often. If we could be that stage in professional play or someone’s career path, that would be so exciting.”
Khang Thai said we might even see the Razer Invitational in other regions, and he hinted at some really big things to come. In the meantime, if you want to catch up on all the Razer Invitational action you can find plenty of content on the Razer YouTube channel.