Turtle Entertainment s ESL is the largest eSports league in the world today. Following its second successful event at Madison Square Garden, the company is expanding its focus on global stadium events through ESL One and increasing its U.S. footprint as it tries to keep up with the demands.

Flush with an $87 million investment for a 74 percent majority stake from Swedish media company Modern Times Group, Turtle Entertainment is focusing on its own growth as fans clamor for more eSports titles. Ralf Reichert Managing Director and CEO of Turtle Entertainment and ESL, addresses hot button issues that eSports faces as it evolves into a real sport in this exclusive interview.

How do you see the number of eSports titles expanding?

We have six or seven pro leagues for games like Halo, CS:GO, Dota 2, and Mortal Kombat and we re working with publisher partners to expand dramatically with new games like Guild Wars 2, which has had early success. We ve had success with PAX Prime and other game fairs. The demand in the U.S. is extremely high and we have trouble keeping up with that.

What are your thoughts on the large prize pools we’re seeing grab headlines like The International’s $18 million?

First and foremost, prize pools are one of the key pillars in eSports. People come to the stadium because we do a great show and great marketing around it, but it s because of the players. For them to make a living out of eSports and see this as a lucrative and engaging job is important. The big discussion is whether an $18 million prize pool is ten times more valuable than an $8 million prize pool. We re trying to build prize pools as fast as we can in the economy that we can afford it. We have the largest prize pools for Dota 2 outside of The International with $250,000, and with CS:GO we have a league with $500,000 and events with $250,000 prize pools. We want to be at the top of the league prize pools. While publishers like Valve can use in-game micro-transactions, we don t have that luxury. More generally, prize pools are a motivation for the players.

Can you talk about the revenue players earn outside of actual ESL One prize money?

Not only is there a prize pool for ESL One, every player gets a revenue share based on team logos sold as in-game autographs. At Katowice $1.5 million went to players, teams and organizers, and at Cologne over $2 million was paid out around that event.

How do you feel this type of revenue sharing will offset players forming a union?

There s always vying for shares in every major sport. That s part of eSports as well. But the way revenue is distributed is different, like the prize money and the sale of stickers. It s still something that we always need to keep an eye on, as organizers, to make sure is done fairly. A union will happen in eSports to some extent as well, but that s okay, it s part of every sport.

How do you see the drug testing policy evolving?

It will certainly become the standard in ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters events, but we haven’t thought about the national championships yet. It s undeniable that eventually it will come down to all events, it s just how quickly we will do it.

What have you learned from traditional sports drug testing?

We have a couple of advantages. Drug testing is a science/process that has been developed over the last 20 or 30 years. In eSports you have to be very adaptable. We really embrace this flexibility. Other more traditional sports organizations are usually run by older people. We have younger people who can adapt fast. We ve seen other organizations really go down with this. We know the risk it has if doping is perceived as being okay by an organization, or even worse if the organization, itself, somehow tries to cover it up. We want to have a very transparent fast and aggressive approach so it never becomes a problem before it spreads.

What s the reaction been like from game publishers and other leagues?

From the publisher side, there s been a lot of support for doing this. From other organizations, I’d assume they re working on their own programs.

We just work with the official agencies. We look at it as a general sport-wide approach to drug testing.

Are you surprised by the amount of mainstream testing the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Adderall story received?

We re surprised by the amount of feedback. For us, doping is a negative story because it s something that shouldn t happen. But when we started going to stadiums, we had a lot of press around finally saying, Oh, this seems to be a sport. The doping stuff had a negative effect, but as we dealt with it in a transparent way, those same people are saying, Now it s really a sport. It s been extremely well received across the board, and it s good for the sport that we attempted to address the issue before it became a problem.

What are your thoughts on Unikrn and betting in eSports?

Globally, there are very different legislations around betting. In the UK it s socially accepted, but in the U.S. and Germany it s the opposite — it s close to being criminalized. Other sports work with large betting data companies for fraud detection and finding out if match fixing is happening. From a beta approach, we re looking into that. As far as partnering, if we did a UK event locally, that would be a natural piece of companies we work with on a sponsorship and business to business perspective. But in Germany or the U.S., that s not something that would happen. When it comes to a fraud detection system, we have a global approach we need to take care of.

How has ESL approached Fantasy ESports?

For the non-paid fantasy scene, ESL has a product (Fantasy.eslgaming.com) there which is fairly successful. It engages more users and creates an additional story line to a tournament. In the U.S. paid fantasy is huge around the NBA and NFL and we re working with all of the providers to offer a good product to our consumers. In other markets like Germany, paid fantasy is not an accepted sport. We don t have an interest in paid fantasy; we partner with others there.