Episode Eleven

So You Wanna Be A Gamer:

Jon Yuwono and ClauPaw of Red Bull Rebellion

23 March 2021


ALAN  0:07  
Hello, and welcome to a special edition, our eSports installment of the indo techno podcast. This marks season two episode 11 of the indo techno podcast. I'm Alan Hellawell, founder of Gizmo advisors and venture partner at alpha j. WC ventures. So I'm at the time Kamali suminia. Now some of the younger elements of our audience would know that this past weekend mark the grand finals of the free fire Indonesia masters, one of the premier eSports tournaments of the year. It was definitely an absolutely exhilarating weekend for me. Having spent all of Sunday afternoon watching leading teams such as Red Bull rebellion, battle it out for the top prize. We're in fact lucky enough to have on our podcast today, john Yo, no general manager of rebellion eSports along with his team manager and eSports influencer, Claudia cloud, Paul, welcome to the show, guys.

Thanks, Alan. It's an honor to be here and hope you and all your listeners are doing well during this pandemic. We hope to have a good show today.

CLAUPAW  1:12  
Yes, thank you, everyone for inviting us on your podcast. We hope we can provide insight into eSports and the life of professional players.

ALAN  1:20  
We're really excited about this specific episode. The end of techno team has brought in both the GM of Red Bull rebellion, and one of its managers and influencers in order to offer a much deeper and more colorful profile of what is clearly a super dynamic space.

While we're both glad to be here,

ALAN  1:39  
I have to say I feel kind of like the nerdy podcast host version of football veteran broadcaster Tony Romo interviewing Tom Brady after he and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl last month. So let me first john asked you, how did the weekend go in your mind.

The weekend did not go as well as we expected. Unfortunately, Tom Brady won the Super Bowl, and we didn't win anything this past weekend. The game itself we fire is a game that has major fluctuations and variation results game to game but well played by Eva I think the best team one FFF back to back champions. So our target from the beginning of the season was to get a spot to proceed to the international tournaments, which was communicated to us would be the top two spots. Obviously we didn't achieve that. But we will be back stronger and better next season. Having one of our main players unable to participate because of positive COVID test really put us in a disadvantage. But there are no excuses though. This is a tournament that everyone is experiencing the same factors and variables. But hopefully when the pandemic is over and under control, garena can start having live audiences present at its venue. It's just really a different atmosphere playing with an empty crowd. But we hope to get back to what it was before the pandemic. Gotcha. Well, I

ALAN  2:57  
saw some pretty heroic moves, watching rbR in battle, any particular highlights over the weekend from the Red Bull rebellion team.

I think that outstanding highlights were quite limited. We did only finish at seventh place, a boss was the clear favorite heading into the finals. And I'm just personally a little disappointed no teams actually challenged them following their drop zones engaging in wars with them, we actually have very similar drop zones and rotation. So I guess our path to victory always goes through a boss. The basic metal strategy has always been for teams to be conservative in the early stage, and try to be aggressive in the mid and latter stages. The first match if you watch the carefully by the third circle zone, all players and teams are still alive. This is something that was kind of to be expected every team playing conservatively. But overall, the performance was not what we expected it to be. Third circle zones, can

ALAN  3:49  
you at least translate into English what you just said?

I've actually not even sure what I'm trying to say. But free fire really is a game of high variance in terms of points and results. Every team has a lot to lose by taking risks in the early stages of the match. I think as long as this model of playstyle continues, we and me personally expect us to continue winning in the free fire championships.

ALAN  4:16  
Understood now john set the stage for us. What are the numbers behind Indonesian eSports these days? What's the market size in Indonesia? How many gamers Do we have etc

eSports in Indonesia is already a multi billion US dollar industry. I don't think there's any doubt about this. I don't think there's any disputing this. When we talk about the esports industry there really are a lot of sub sectors and eSports in general. There's game publishers, professional teams, influencers, streamers, tournament platforms, event organizers, social media, news media, those are just to name a few. We also have got to keep in mind though that eSports in Indonesia is really still in its infancy stages, this market will continue to grow exponentially. I don't think there's any doubt about that. We will see more extra sectors come alive to Support the esports infrastructure. Many people refer to this infrastructure as the esports ecosystem. Yes, there was an Esports market maybe 10 years back, but that was primarily for the upmarket customer base. So PC and console games that really didn't touch the mass market, middle class population. But as technology progresses, we've seen the introduction of price efficient smartphones, right eSports in Indonesia has just boomed within the past, I'd say two to three years. Now your everyday teenager student working person can have easy access to play mobile games anywhere at any time during the day. It's really difficult to get real numbers on gamers Indonesia, but let me try and outline a few points for your listeners. We've got three major mobile games, Indonesia, mobile legends, free fire and pub GM. Each game publisher has confirmed verbally and also via news media outlets that they have more than 30 million monthly active users. Now monthly active users is defined as an individual logging into the game at least once a month. So picture this, Indonesia has a population of 300 million people. That means more than 10% of the entire population are quote unquote gamers. For the target demographic of gamers the population of people between ages 13 and 30, which is the target demographic for eSports has a population of 70 million people. That means half of all people between 13 and 30 are gamers. By the way, the Indonesia eSports ministry has officially recognized eSports as an official sport, meaning you will feature and see games, Asian Games and even Olympics. So prior to maybe last year eSports was considered as a community sport, which was not officially recognized. A stigma of children teenagers playing games will obviously change to be commonly accepted as a normal part of life. If we're exploring in terms of advertising via Instagram, there are about 60 million Instagram users from Indonesia, one of the largest in the world. 20 million and a 60 million people list mobile games as an interest. That means out of all Indonesian Instagram accounts, one out of three are listed as gamers. eSports is definitely real, and definitely here to stay in Indonesia.

ALAN  7:04  
Those are really eye popping numbers, I have no idea it was so deeply penetrated into the youth of Indonesia. Now john, tell us the basics about your own Team Red Bull rebellion,

Red Bull rebellion we're commonly referred to as rvr. In the competitive scene, we're a relatively new eSports team business started in December 2019. Currently, we have a small management team of about four with three professional teams and about 20 players and coaches that compete in the competitive tournaments for mobile legends, free fire and pub GM. We focus primarily on mobile games or whatever is most popular in Asia, I don't see this trend changing for the next I'd say five to 10 years. And we really try to groom and develop amateur domestic talent players with no prior professional experience in their respective games. Each mobile game has a different definition of what a pro player is. But what we are really trying to do is we're trying to look for the next Indonesian eSports star. On a personal level, though, Indonesia hasn't had much success in the major sports, such as football, basketball, tennis, golf, sports with a global reach. I just can't see how Indonesia can't have success in eSports. It is still an official sport. But I think that there are a lot of physical attributes that maybe put us at a disadvantage that are no longer applicable for eSports. So I hope that if it's not rbR, one of the other teams from Indonesia can have international success.

ALAN  8:29  
Gotcha. Thanks for that, john. Now I have to imagine these tournaments are being played very, very differently today than they would have been before the pandemic. So john would have been the most jarring changes if we think about this past weekend's tournament to those that you were participating in before the onset of the pandemic.

What are the main challenges for game publishers during this pandemic is whether to have their events online or offline. As the pandemic has worsened. We've obviously switched that to primarily online events. But definitely having an offline venue provides value towards the game and always to the fans and followers. There have been a few major tournaments held an offline venue, but this is definitely without an audience. This is I think, primarily to level the playing field, ensuring no game cheats, ensuring everyone has the same Wi Fi access. But game publishers have been challenged as well. They've been forced to adjust on the fly. A lot of them were planning global international tournaments, but they had to switch that to regional tournaments. But the tournament that we do play it offline venues are pretty strict with the COVID testing and the positive tests will always impact player participation, as was the case for us during this past weekend for free fire Indonesia masters, we had one of our main players test positive after going home during the break. It's unfortunate for him and the team that he was unable to participate. And we had our substitute player play that day, but the pandemic itself, it discriminates against the playing field. Any team that is unfortunate enough to have a player test positive will have to suffer the consequences of whatever that is. That's something that's out of our control. During this pandemic, but it is something that we have to accept. Playing tournament's primary online also limits what the teams can do in terms of social media content. Social media content is obviously a part that is very important for eSports teams, specifically for rbR. We try and do as much content as possible, covering actual gameplay to behind the scenes footage, one of the best contents that we were actually looking forward to was to have a live audience. There's a lot that we can do with a live audience, we can interview fans followers, we can engage with the fans and followers. So this is a whole aspect that we've completely missed during this pandemic. Players themselves also have to make an adjustment. Prior to the pandemic, they were free to socialize outside the gaming house. Now, we pretty much enforce a strict policy of limited socializing, it's very difficult to be stationed in one location, primarily the gaming house with limited physical socialization with the outside world. But these things are inevitable. We've had players test positive COVID. And we've had to make adjustments on the fly as well. But I just think that there's a real mental toll on the players being in the gaming house for a long period of time and then having to perform at peak levels during tournaments.

ALAN  11:10  
Yeah, so I can understand there's been quite a bit of sacrifice, and you really have to have a lot of endurance to deal with the effects of the pandemic. JOHN, what of these changes in your mind are here to stay post COVID. And what parts of the experience will revert back to the pre COVID days?

I imagine everything will revert back to the pre COVID days. eSports. While still fun, it is a business at the end of the day for all parties, game publishers for teams. So there's just too much money involved in doing the things the right way to optimize exposure and profits for both sides.

ALAN  11:43  
JOHN, where do you want to take our br going forward?

Our core business is always to have competitive and successful teams, I think all eSports teams will always want the main thing, which is to win and be competitive. I'd never say our teams must win. The definition of winning is different for every team and for every stage. But at the end of the day, we must be able to at least compete with the best players of the product. So we hope that as the team wins, the players themselves can enjoy some personal success. But on the business side, really a question that remains unanswered for all eSports teams, not just Indonesia, is the ability to scale up and eventually deliver healthy profits to its stakeholders. I'm sure more than 90% of all these sports teams, not just in Indonesia are still in the red current revenue streams, I think are pretty typical for all these sports teams. We have sponsorships prize money, merchandise endorsements, there may be revenue from live streaming of players and talents. But I believe this really isn't enough to scale up and deliver sustainable profits for the next 50 years. There really needs to be something more that someone hasn't figured out yet. I hope to figure that out. And I've been exploring out of the box ideas that can merge different industries with eSports. One of the things I've been looking at is actually mainstream media. We've primarily been using social media, but I don't see why we can't leverage this going into mainstream media. So hopefully all works out well at the end.

ALAN  13:09  
Absolutely. Well, we'll look forward to seeing evidence of that progress going forward. Thanks for that, john. Now, klapow. Thanks again for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself where you're from? what actually is your role within Red Bull rebellion.

CLAUPAW  13:23  
I was born in Jakarta. I fought my parents moving to cities such as monado, rocker Paul, and now I've been living in Jakarta for the past five years. I've been in eSports for almost six years with different roles, and I have witnessed this market grow at tremendous levels. When john approached me to join rebel rebellion more than a year ago, it was primarily to be the team manager for only the mlbb mobile agents team. But now I'm the team manager for all our professional teams like mlbb, free fire and also Optima. Well, here I'm responsible for managing all the players and coaches and overall team performance starting from finding the players and assembling the team until competing at the highest levels. Part of my role is to also develop relationships with our partners, game publishers, news media and other teams, players etc. So are we are had contracts or talents for social media and live streaming, but we scrapped that for 2021. And I'm now both talent for some social media purposes. So the whole idea is the from the gaming public purview. I'm the face of rbR.

ALAN  14:36  
And thanks for that explanation. I have to ask you, where does the name cloud power come from?

CLAUPAW  14:42  
So power is from my real name Claudia, and I added power because it's cute. Actually cowboys from my second game account. I made this second account to play with my close friend, so it's private. But unfortunately when I go our stream I forgot to change my game account. I didn't realize it until I finish one game, then if you already know my second account for power, so why did I made second account name? paopao. Because I want to privacy to play freely with my close friend or individually. I mean, like without getting trolled or gamed by other people. Like it's so annoying if you want to play this fully. And when you are engaged, many people notice you, then they throw and giggle just because you're a girl. I'm a girl and open to live streaming in that game. So sometimes they want to seek attention.

ALAN  15:31  
Gotcha. All right. Well, that's a very interesting and colorful story. Clearly, everyone seems to have a nickname in this industry. Can you propose a nickname for me whether it's ole Gila, or something like that?

CLAUPAW  15:43  
I think you can add a word which indicates how powerful or strong you are, for example, like God, Elon, super Elon, I think it's quite good. First impression is important.

ALAN  15:55  
Clearly, well, I'm sure my daughter is going to appreciate that super al and I need to convince her that I am indeed super so thanks for that. I now have my neck. Now clap out what is the average day or week like for an Esports athlete at the Red Bull rebellion house

CLAUPAW  16:12  
are we are half an offseason and in season. During the offseason, players are expected to live stream at the rbR platform while also scrimmaging against other teams, or even participating in trials for new players. Also, there may be some tournaments, but during the offseason, it's really just a time for players to reset and not have competitive ratio hanging over them. During the season, players will typically have training schedules of about 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days of the week. So they straining left by their respective coaches involves playing run games remaining against other teams, team play strategy, review by the coach, and even watching live streams of other teams playing because matters are always changing. So there is always something new for the players and also the team to learn and practice and optimize. Usually there may be one day or a few hours of the day allocated for social media content. Also, these are all team sports and as competitive athletes, they're always conflicts that need to be resolved. It's important that the players respect each other and have some vision and goals for the team. It's different when you play a game socially and casually versus playing the game as a profession. Sometimes the fun aspect is no longer fun. We have had some significant player turnover as we never know that the player can handle until they are in the gaming house. It's usually quite clear within a few days or weeks whether the player has it in him to perform at the professional level.

ALAN  17:46  
Really interesting depiction there and clearly quite a grueling week that the average gamer has been preparing for the next tournament. Now Clough an important part of your work is to cultivate an image for the team online. Can you tell us about your work as an influencer?

CLAUPAW  18:02  
I started being an influencer since year 2015. With my work in League of Legends, scoring amnesia. There are many influencers that have gained immense popularity by symbolizing negative values like being toxic on camera using profanity, creating drama. But I'd like to think that I bring positive values to rvr and also eSports in general, because john always talks about doing the right thing. That's something I've taken with me and tried to embody in the public eye. So the part of being an influencer for rbR are conducting live interviews from various media outlets being praised on social media platforms, both personal and rbR. And definitely being present at the major competitions, not only it's important to be a positive influence to the fans and followers, but it's important to be seen in positive light with our partners, including game publishers, other games, other players, etc. We certainly don't want current and new players having debates about management's ability to create positive and successful environment for them to thrive in. As the responsibility have increased, I have to stop live streaming playing games. Similar to what john mentioned earlier, you really have to choose to live streaming is very time consuming and requires commitment. For now I use don't have the time anymore.

ALAN  19:21  
I can understand that. JOHN, what's important to you on a day to day basis and ensuring that the team is well looked after and is well positioned to win the next tournament.

To me, it's really all about expectations. If I know that the team isn't very good when we first assemble the team, I think it'd be quite unreasonable for me to expect them to win right away. But step by step there really needs to be an improvement. When they've reached a certain level, then these expectations can change. It may be the win, it may be reached the finals, it may even be just to get past qualification stages. I think it's extremely important. There's a clear communication between management and players on what these expectations are. When expectations aren't met, unfortunately, there probably needs to be a change in the players or the coaches, players are human motivation dwindles, work becomes mundane, they get lazy. It's important that the proper steps are taken to build a team. There's no skipping steps, they need to train properly have a positive attitude. Most importantly, mutual respect between players. The timing is important too. Teams can be going all out too early, they need to pick up the right moment, Claudia and the coaches are really the ones that are most in tune with the players mental and emotional states. So I just try and keep up to date and speak to the players when needed. When evaluating players at the end of their contracts, I need to be objective and make the right decision. That's why I try as much as possible not to be too emotionally invested with the players themselves. At the end of the day, everyone can leave rvr except the owner. That's why it's really on me to decide whether or not to extend a new contract to the player.

ALAN  20:56  
I understand. Now, john, what's the broader definition of a successful eSports athlete, not just in terms of victories, but also in terms of reach on social media, sponsorships, etc.

I personally have a different view, it might be an extreme view, one what a successful eSports athlete is. But before I talk about this, I'm really primarily referring to Indonesian eSports and mobile games. The first thing I don't really comprehend is why there's such an importance for aspiring eSports athletes to complete their education, whether that be high school or college, obviously, family pressures, and traditional thinking is real, to always complete your education as a safety net for the future. But the reality is that most eSports athletes careers, especially in mobile games are relatively short, you're probably done by the age of 25. Someone who is talented, obviously, the word talented is very subjective here needs to focus on an early stage, we're talking about maybe 14 or 15 years old, and they really need to commit. They're already pro players in Asia that are 16 years old and competing at the highest tournament levels, I believe you can do both aspire to be a successful eSports athletes and we are committed to your education, you really need to pick one and sacrifice the other, there just isn't enough time for both. To put this into perspective. If we're looking at the other sports, football and tennis players by the age of 14, they pretty much know whether they have a career path. And from then they pretty much received limited education and concentrate 100% on their sport. other sports are the same but have different systems regulated systems such as the NBA for basketball, I think there's a requirement for you to be at least 19 years old to be drafted. Taking into consideration the short career lifespan of an Esports athlete, I actually believe they should definitely be starting very early. Now if you can be a pro player by the age of 16, have a winning career, and also build your personal brand at the same time, then they're pretty much already there. Right? You can be a streamer and also a successful eSports athlete. It's been done before, but it's also extremely rare. There's also no replacement for winning. I think for an athlete, winning is the pinnacle of an athlete's career, and you must be able to win at the highest levels. If you're able to do this, it'll automatically build your personal brand, social media reach and endorsements will definitely come. Then at the age of retirement, let's say at age 25. The athlete can transition to talent or maybe live streaming, maybe working in the media as a host caster commentator, and really have a career after sports. That is by definition of a successful eSports athlete, someone who wins, builds his personal brand and has a career after his professional experience.

ALAN  23:34  
Man, I would love to find a profession that allows me to retire 25 I guess in my next lifetime. Now clap out what do you worry about most with your athletes?

CLAUPAW  23:45  
I'm so worried if they don't have motivation and don't want to grow any further. It's so dangerous for the team and also for the future. As a manager, I can motivate and boost them. However, if they don't want to be pushed or motivated, it will be very difficult to develop if there is no awareness of themselves.

ALAN  24:03  
Very good point. Now, john, I send there a lot of forces commoditizing, the esports business and the teams. What are you doing in order to ensure that Red Bull rebellion is as diversified a business as possible?

I'd mentioned this a little bit before, I think it's really about thinking outside of the box and being brave and trying something new. Red Bull rebellion is an Esports team and brand but it can be so much more than that. An eSports team in itself is quite unique provides something different than other sports, right? We have players all living in one location. We just need to leverage what is unique to us eSports teams and deliver it in a way that can be actually monetized. Nobody can really say whether this would be right or wrong just because this industry is just so new and there are so many more avenues to be explored. Well, john Clough rebel rebellion

ALAN  24:52  
definitely made for a very exciting afternoon for me last Sunday, and I think you may have a new fanboy here. Although I'm pretty far outside of your target demographic. Thanks again for joining us on the heels of such a big tournament and best of luck with rebellion going forward.

Thank you, Alan greatly appreciate setting aside the time to speak with us.

CLAUPAW  25:13  
Thank you, Alan.

ALAN  25:15  
We hope our listeners have enjoyed today's episode. As always, please consider sharing any feedback that you have about the technical podcast directly with us. Karima Cassie tell them and then God can sometimes jumpa lagi