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Esports organization North Database-Link-e1521645463907 was founded in 2017 as a collaboration between Danish soccer team F.C. Copenhagen Database-Link-e1521645463907 and Nordic entertainment company Nordisk Film. Former pro player and entrepreneur Jonas Gunderson joined North in March of this year as the team’s chief commercial officer, with a background in scaling tech startups. He spoke with The Esports Observer about the team’s heritage, challenges, and future aspirations.

A question we get a lot is whether we see North as just a subsidiary of F.C. Copenhagen, and it’s definitely not,” said Gunderson. “North is looked at as a separate unit—we’re definitely in it for the long run and not just some sort of extension.”

North is a global brand with a “strong Nordic heritage,” said Gunderson, but Danish fans are not their only target demographic.

“Competition is great, but not everyone will survive if they don’t adapt.”

For the moment, North shares space with F.C. Copenhagen, in Denmark’s national stadium, but  and the organization is looking to “get a bigger office” soon. Gunderson says the organization is “100% looking at” launching an event and training facility.

“Whether that happens tomorrow I don’t know, but we’re definitely looking into making some sort of gaming HQ where [other] things can happen. We’ve got to find the right partner for it and the right space. A combined event space and gaming HQ makes a lot of sense.”

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Credit: North

Gunderson has seen the rise of Counter-Strike Database-Link-e1521645463907 first-hand, having played from 2001-2005 under the gamertag “calc” for a number of teams including SK Gaming Database-Link-e1521645463907. Today, he says, CS:GO tournaments have become so commonplace that fans could experience fatigue.

The major challenge I see is that if we don’t standardize, it could become saturated. That’s going to be a problem at one point. Right now we have a market frenzy going on which is fine, but if we don’t look into more stabilized leagues, we risk burning out fans and players.

Gunderson described the current esports industry as “open warfare” between brands, teams, and tournament organizers trying to come out on top.

“Add some relentless work into monetizing and optimizing for that, and you’ll be fine.”

“Competition is great, but not everyone will survive if they don’t adapt. Right now, all of us work really hard to find sustainable business models, ultimately forcing all of us to create fundamentally better products, which is awesome for the fans.”

CS:GO is sometimes called “impossible” to monetize, said Gunderson, but he says brands just have to be smart about it.

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Credit: North

“It’s definitely possible to monetize CS:GO. As with any early-stage business, it’s about not doing everything at once and just focusing on the core of what you want your product to be. Add some relentless work into monetizing and optimizing for that, and you’ll be fine.”

North is still in its infancy as an organization, but it has secured partnerships with established brands like Adidas Database-Link-e1521645463907, SteelSeries Database-Link-e1521645463907, GG.Bet Database-Link-e1521645463907, and Red Bull Database-Link-e1521645463907.

“Our approach is to start with fewer games, but execute them as good as humanly possible in every aspect…”

The organization is also hoping to expand to additional games but for now, Gunderson says, they are going for quality over quantity.

“It’s good and bad being new,” he said. “In many ways it’s great but you can’t do everything at once. Even though I’d love to have [North field] 15 games, it’s just not a viable decision because you can’t execute 15 games at once when we’re trying to build infrastructure at the same time.

“Our approach is to start with fewer games, but execute them as good as humanly possible in every aspect, both competitive and business-wise. Which games we then chose to enter, is something we constantly analyze and evolve depending on how we see our brand evolving.”


Editor’s note: This interview was conducted by Graham Ashton.


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