Video game hardware and accessories company Razer recently expanded its Razer Arena offering to include Riot Games League of Legends. It s part of an expanded eSports push by the company, which was formed in the early days of professional gaming.

Razer is also upping its tournament game. The company is investing $50,000 in Q1 2016, making it the largest amateur league prize pool to-date. MinLiang Tan, co-founder, CEO, and creative director of Razer, explains his company s eSports strategy in this exclusive interview.

What does League of Legends bring to Razer Arena

League of Legends is the largest eSports title in the world today. With Razer Arena now supporting this game, we re able to help gamers play in competitive-style tournaments with professional organizing tools. We aim to support the dreams of average tournament organizer as well as provide young budding teams with a completely automated platform to train and grow through Razer Arena.

Why is Razer sponsoring League of Legends tournaments

This is a way for us to improve the gaming experience. ESports is a huge part of our company s history and it will continue to be a big focus, whether that s monetary sponsorships, product support or platforms like Razer Arena that help players compete against each other at a pro level.

How does sponsoring tournaments fit into Razer’s overall eSports investment  

Basketball players and other athletes will have companies design specific gear like shoes to help them compete at the highest level possible. That s very similar to how we develop cutting-edge products for gamers. There isn t a better way to validate the merits of a product than having a pro gamer approve of it, so we test our concepts closely with our eSports teams. We once had a gamer that could tell the difference between a response time in a mouse down to the millisecond, and that s why all of our mice have the lowest latency possible one millisecond.

What are the advantages of building tournaments and how does it complement the traditional sponsorship of players and teams

With the ability to create more tournaments, players have more opportunities to practice teamwork and hone communicationskills, along with developing individual abilities. For those who enjoy watching eSports matches, it will also benefit them with more content to watch. This is a way to make eSports-type events more accessible to anyone.

How many players or teams does Razer sponsor in League of Legends And overall eSports  

Razer currently sponsors 17 separate League of Legends teams as part of our 24 sponsored eSports organizations.

How has Razer Arena grown since launch in terms of users and titles

Razer Arena was launched into beta early January 2015. In the space of a single calendar year, we ve grown by leaps and bounds, to improve and constantly polish the platform to what you see today. We ve more than double the number of titles we support, and with the introduction of World of Tanks as well as League of Legends, we re poised to service some of the largest gaming communities in the world. All of these would not have been possible without the unwavering support from our users, who struck with us as we worked out the kinks and continuously seek to improve the platform.

Razer Arena services thousands of players and full-fledged teams who have joined and formed to compete on Arena. Furthermore, we ve successfully ploughed through countless events, matches and late nights in an effort to work with our initial adopters to refine the platform. The solution you see today was born of the blood and sweat of everyone involved, and we re extremely confident that we can take Arena to even greater heights.

What does Razer Arena bring to the eSports ecosystem

Razer Arena is a fully automated tournament platform that covers a tournament lifecycle, end-to-end. This significantly improves the lives of event organizers by making processes easier for them, while providing a powerful platform for players and teams to demonstrate their skills. Being an online or offline platform means that we greatly extend the reach of organizers and, at the same time, provide an avenue for the casual player, regardless of where you are, to live your dream. Gamers are inherently competitive, and competition pushes boundaries. Going online breaks all physical barriers, and with the help of all gamers around the world, Razer Arena aims to be the best online tournament platform in the world.

What s more, game developers can work with platforms like Razer Arena to empower the community to create their own competitive scene from the ground up.

How big an eSports fan base does Razer have today and how do you see that growing

Razer s eSports fan base is in the millions figure, we have more than 10 million fans, friends and followers on our social media platforms alone. As long as we make the most advanced products in the world for gamers, and as long as eSports grows as a global phenomenon, Razer s eSports fan base will grow. Our products are the most prevalent gateway to eSports fandom people buy a Razer mouse, keyboard or system based on product merit and they re drawn to tournaments as expositions of what their Razer gear can do when pushed to the limit.

It s like a Porsche owner watching the Rolex Sports Car Series, or someone who owns a Big Bertha watching The Masters to see what his club can do in the hands of one of the world s great golfers. People are drawn to Razer from the other direction, as well, becoming fans of our products by virtue of our support of tournaments and the achievements of the players who we sponsor. Our logo is synonymous with high-performance gaming at every level on the eSports continuum.

What role do you feel eSports has played in making Razer what it is today

The vision for Razer from the very beginning was to be the world’s greatest gaming brand and to achieve that by designing the best products possible for gamers. As part of staying true to our ambitions, we systematically imagined, developed and produced some of the greatest tools known to professional gamers over the years. As the bar for professional gamers began to rise higher and higher, supporting the accomplishments of these athletes became a primary focus for us, and in many ways drove innovation time and time again. Just like we d like to think that eSports would not be where it is today if we had not taken the leap that we did in the early days with sponsorships of some of the world s leading gamers, like Jonathan Fatal1ty Wendel or Jaeho Moon Jang, Razer would not be where it is today if eSports had not been there to set new standards for gaming components and their relation to human performance.