From Schalke to EXCEL: Tim Reichert’s story of growing high-potential teams
by Tim Reichert his name may not be familiar to most esports fans in Europe, but his work and his legacy certainly are. One of the founders of SK Gaming, former head of esports at Schalke 04 Esports and client manager for Media Com Germany, Reichert is a man of many talents. Most recently, he put those skills to good use as the new esports manager for the UK esports organization. EXCEL Esports.
Esports Insider sat down with Reichert late last year to discuss the ins and outs of his new position, his plans for the future, and his overall vision as the leader of an organization that, in many ways, is still waiting to realize its full potential.
EXCEL was probably not a company one would immediately guess Reichert would go to after a successful spell at Schalke, but Reichert is sure he made the right decision and feels very good about his future. However, to first address the elephant in the room: why did Tim Reichert start working for EXCEL?
“I liked what I did at Schalke and there were a lot of different opportunities, but for me I came to the conclusion that working on an organization, working with teams and players, working with the content department was something I always wanted to continue,” he said. “I looked at different options and EXCEL actually had a really good package.
Reichert added that he saw a lot of progress in EXCEL and a lot of potential. “I want to be in a profession where your work is visible and where you can be effective,” he explained. For him, EXCEL is the best place to be able to do this right now, although there is still a lot of work to be done.
do a lot with little
The second elephant in the room is, of course, Schalke 04. Reichert started his career at Schalke in 2015 and has been instrumental in the growth of its esports section. When the football club ran into financial difficulties and were relegated to the second tier of the German Bundesliga in 2021, the decision was made to sell their LEC slot to the BDS team for €26.5 million (~22 ,1 million pounds sterling).
The time at Schalke has been interesting for Reichert, and the German team’s former esports manager noted that he didn’t plan to stay at the club for so long, especially in the first two years. The beginnings of Schalke 04 Esports were, as Reichert said, very difficult, even for a person who actually played professional football in his life.
He described how at first the club did not invest as much in esports as he would have hoped, and the whole project took time to develop in the early stages. What finally got the ball rolling was the first appearance at the EU LCS Summer Playoffs 2018 in Madrid. “It changed everything for the organization,” Reichert said.
“It was a big risk. It wasn’t like other League of Legends companies and teams, it was a big bet based on the outside perspective and the fans perspective, because with that money you could have bought a good player for your team from soccer.
“It’s not like a small six-figure investment like in 2016, it was a big investment back then, but Madrid changed everything. And when we invested, and when we started generating real income and when we also figured out how to convince partners to join our journey, it just got bigger and bigger.
In fact, Schalke 04 Esports was experiencing steady growth just before the pandemic hit the world. Then Schalke, along with a number of other teams and companies, were hit hard, and the weather was particularly frustrating for Tim Reichert and his team. In a strange twist of fate, it was Reichert’s esports department that helped Schalke’s traditional club sports team through financial difficulties.
“We’ve been successful, even with limited resources, we’ve brought in some really top players and some really good guys for the most important areas, like the content creation area,” Reichert said. “We created amazing content and we had great storylines with our teams. But still, there was the other side which was a drama you couldn’t imagine in your worst dreams. COVID, in addition to being relegated to the second Bundesliga.
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Reichert learned a lot about the ins and outs of building a profitable organization, and perhaps more importantly, how to manage expectations and maintain a steady stream of revenue in the world of esports.
Reichert’s advice to football clubs (and other sports teams trying to get into esports) starts out pretty simple: set a budget and stick to it. This is probably the hardest part for sports team leaders when starting out. After that, the esports department must have a stable business plan that everyone involved must commit to.
However, Reichert also added a controversial piece of advice: “Engage in a team sport, not something like FIFA or Fortnite. Any successful sports organization in the world is based on a team sport and not a single player sport. There are no teams for tennis clubs or big teams for table tennis. It’s just non-existent. So you should be looking at something related to the team and not a single player. I always agree with FIFA for club soccer but besides that focus on a team sport.
Addressing his plans and future at EXCEL, Reichert honestly admitted his perception of EXCEL was not the best when he was at Schalke – although he saw a lot of potential there.
“There was something missing in the teams and the communication with the public,” added Reichert. “I also brought this up in my conversation with EXCEL when we were discussing my potential entry myself. They were already aware of this, and it wasn’t like I needed to tell them. inform.
Many internal changes are currently underway in EXCEL and these processes are time-consuming, Reichert said. However, he feels like he’s on the same page with the organization, and that’s one of the main reasons he decided to join EXCEL in the first place.
“I have high hopes for the people working here on the EXCEL side. And a lot of them aren’t even visible or the fans don’t even know everything that’s happened here in a year, internally. I hope we can show them something much better in the future and we can provide them with much more fun and entertaining results.
The ultimate goal
Entertaining gaming and esports audiences is the main priority, Reichert said, adding that this will be EXCEL’s priority going forward because any organization, whether traditional sports or esports, simply exists for its fans. The second priority is to win, of course. Reichert notes that achieving goals, earning trophies and achieving good results are a given when it comes to the organization’s future plans. The main goal, however, is definitely to entertain audiences and expand EXCEL’s fanbase.
Reichert concluded, “EXCEL is changing, and that’s one of the messages I want to send. Yeah, there’s a lot going on, and I’m really happy to be a part of it. I’m also just a small part in the bigger picture, trying to contribute to the success as best I can, and I hope people will be happy with that.
EXCEL started their new LEC season with two losses, one against Team BDS and the other against G2, but also with a victory against the new European “super team”, Vitality. The organization also entered into a partnership with sports retailer JD Esports earlier this month.
EXCEL’s “end goal” is to become a truly global competitor in the esports industry. This is aided by investments and a set of new hires that have bolstered the organization’s ranks in 2021. The focus on people is evident when speaking with Reichert, and he emphasized that the growth of an esports brand is simply about people.
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“[EXCEL] added some amazing creative people to the content team, resulting in strong community growth. That’s what it’s all about – it sounds simple, but it’s super hard to execute in the end. I think it’s important for us to show the world that we’re going to compete with the best, and we’re not just going to make the playoffs, we’re aiming higher.
“But also, it’s about upgrading human resources, upgrading the people working for EXCEL, and creating the most entertaining and fun content for our audience. Because you attract audiences with entertaining stuff, you don’t attract audiences just because you’re based anywhere or tell a great story.
“You need to give audiences consistent content so that audiences are ready to follow you and be part of your journey.”
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