Whether or not you believe in the sticking power of esports, it’s making a profound impact on our industry.
In May of next year, the NBA 2K League will officially launch and Monumental Sports and Entertainment, owner of the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards, will be at the forefront of this innovative new initiative.
Leading this cutting-edge campaign at MSE as their Director of Esports Business and Team Operations is Grant Paranjape.
Raised in Michigan, Paranjape got involved with esports at a young age.
Welcomed into the community with open arms as he began playing World of Warcraft, Paranjape eventually ended up playing professionally in high school for the number one Guild (team) in the United States.
Persuading your parents at 17 that you do not need to go to college and you can make a career out of esports was near impossible, therefore, Paranjape attended Tulane University in New Orleans on a full academic scholarship.
School became more of a priority than esports, leading him to graduate in three years with a Neuroscience degree.
Still too young to party down Bourbon Street, Paranjape capitalized on the opportunity to continue his education at Tulane Business School to get his MBA.
After graduating, his passion for esports resurfaced and landed him a job with Splyce, an esports organization, as their Business Development Executive. While working for Splyce, Paranjape’s role was to “sell sponsorships, manage those activations and other general marketing tasks as well as working closely with the team managers and players.”
Paranjape helped Splyce field a competitive League of Legends team, eventually leading to partnerships with the Boston Bruins as well as many other organizations.
In 2017, Paranjape was recruited for a new opportunity and decided to take his talents to Washington D.C. to work for Monumental Sports and Entertainment. Although Paranjape didn’t play NBA 2K as often growing up, he provides MSE a business savvy, traditional esports player.
“I am not overly concerned about the transition; traditional management techniques and general esports philosophies will transition between titles; I think there is a lot of crossover between traditional sports and esports,” explained Paranjape.
In only a few short weeks, Paranjape has certainly had his hands full, but with strong support from MSE, Take-Two, and the NBA, Paranjape feels confident about starting a 2K franchise.
“2K developers and the NBA have been extremely hands-on while creating the 2K League, and this collaboration has helped drive this league for the first year — the esports community should be excited.”
When it comes to his new role, Paranjape has three main tasks he wants to accomplish.
- Task one is focused on the MSE team- developing a marketing plan to promote the team, finding a location to house them, and finalizing the team structure. Paranjape’s “player first” approach should prove beneficial for MSE.
- Task two has Paranjape focusing on making Washington D.C. the premium esport hub on the East Coast.
“We will be actively looking for ways to bring esports events to Washington D.C., who are looking to help brand themselves.” — Grant Paranjape.
Ted Leonsis, owner of MSE, and his staff have already begun to build this community with the esports ownership group Axiomatic when they acquired Team Liquid last year.
- Task three is to WIN and provide an unbelievable fan experience! Paranjape has confidence that Capital One Arena can host large scale esports events as MSE continues to use advanced technology to increase the fan experience.
The ultimate goal for Paranjape?
“The NBA 2K logo along with MSE’s brand raising an esports banner in the rafters of Capital One Arena.”
While the esports industry and the NBA 2K League have provided Paranjape with a platform to continue doing what he loves, he has some advice for those looking to break into the industry.
“Whether you are volunteering or helping create content for an esports organization, demonstrate your passion to the industry. Also, while involved in the community be real and authentic.”
As esports continues to explode, this won’t be the last we hear of Paranjape.
This piece has been presented to you by SMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management.
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