Interview with Wildcard Gaming's CEO: Investing in Australasian esports

Ben Scott
October 7, 2019

On September 17th, it was announced that local Rainbow Six: Siege roster, Orgless, had officially signed to a North American esports organisation called Wildcard Gaming. It had come as a shock to many, as the biggest rumour for quite some time had been that they would be signing to the Renegades. Despite rumours, Orgless had kept their signing to Wildcard Gaming under wraps and came out with a huge announcement. This news was long overdue, as they’d been unsigned for over nine months.

We were thankful to have the opportunity to sit down with John Griffin, CEO of Wildcard Gaming, to touch on the origins of Wildcard Gaming, why they decided to invest in the Australasian space, and if he believes more investments like this should follow.

Origins of Wildcard Gaming 

John opened our chat by talking about the origins of Wildcard Gaming and how his esports journey began. “I got my start in competitive gaming back in 2005, with the introduction of Dota on the Warcraft 3 engine. I quickly fell in love with the game and devoted a large portion of time to it, eventually landing myself on multiple high-level professional Dota teams,” says John.

“In 2017, I had transitioned to a coaching role and moved to League of Legends. I met my business partners here, Ben Merritt and Thomas Wolf, while coaching teams that had aspirations to make the North American Championship Series via Play-ins,” John continued.

John then spoke about the origins of Wildcard Gaming’s name and their place in the growing esports space. “We decided to form our own organisation along the way and call it ‘Wildcard’. We felt like we could make a run at larger organisations by using our knowledge of a title’s amateur scene and using in-depth statistical analysis,” John said.

“This paved the way to our original success in PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Rocket League and Fortnite. It helped distinguish ourselves from the crowd of many different esports organisations in North America,” he concluded.

Investing in Australasian esports

It’s worth noting that this isn’t Wildcard Gaming’s first rodeo in Australasia. They previous invested into this space by acquiring a local player by the name of Xtreme2g for their PUBG roster back in North America. 

As John talked about the research he’d done prior to investing in the space, he mentioned his earlier dealings. “A lot of our research involved us just watching games being played in Australasia. Having invested in Xtreme previously, we understand the fervor that comes with the Australasia fan-base,” he said. 

Outside of their previous investment into this region, John then added, “our investment strategy focused on talking to organisations that were already invested in Rainbow Six: Siege, and getting their opinions. When we felt comfortable with what we had seen, what we experienced, and what we had heard, it was a simple decision.”

John closed this line of questioning by saying, “we think the Australasian esports industry has such passionate fans. We know there is a ton of talent here, as we’ve previously had a player from this region play for us (Xtreme). We also know that the industry here is growing and starting to get more and more exposure globally. All three of these factors heavily influenced our decision.”

Topic of overseas investment into Australasia

It’s important to note that this isn’t the first outside investment from an overseas organisation in our region. In total, Season X of the ANZ Pro League for Rainbow Six: Siege finished with four out of eight teams being outside organisations. 

We touched on this topic by asking John about whether more investments could follow suit. “Why wouldn’t you? Esports is a global industry. If you feel it benefits you to be there, do it. Obviously it all depends on their idea of what a business should be, but to us, we want to win.”

“We always want to be a top team in whatever region we are involved in, whether that be PUBG in North America, World of Warcraft Arena in Europe, or now Rainbow Six: Siege in Australasia,” concluded John. 

Despite overseas brands showing interest in our region, and money flowing into the players’ pockets, the topic of overseas regions taking over this title still lingers. Controversy aside, this investment has made Wildcard Gaming the second ever full-time professional roster in the Australasian region for Rainbow Six: Siege, an amazing feat for this title.

Wildcard Gaming’s goals and post-announcement thoughts

John wrapped up his interview by talking about Wildcard Gaming’s long term goals with this investment, the reaction from the community, and the events that have followed.

“Our long term goal with this investment is to establish a community of fans who passionately support the team, and Wildcard Gaming in general. We want to make sure players who deserve the opportunity to take their game to the next level have all the support necessary to do so. We would love to continue to invest in Australasia. We have a road map built for which games we would like to go into as we progress, and if there are teams in this region that match what we are looking for, we will be willing to do so,” John said. 

John spoke on the topic of the community’s reaction by saying, “the reception from the community has been great. We have seen many new followers, and a lot of new people spamming ‘#StackTheDeck’ in chat. We love the passion. The community is invested in the team’s and region’s success, which is so nice to see. I love to see our players’ support for others in the community as well. We understand that we are all responsible for building what we want this to become.”

“The professionalism that we have experienced in the Australasian region is something that we have been highly impressed with. The support from the Ubisoft Office and ESL Australia staff has been exceptional. It’s everything you look for as an esports company,” John concluded.

Wildcard Gaming’s Rainbow Six: Siege roster have qualified for the APAC Pro League Finals, where they will be looking to book themselves a ticket to the Global Finals held in Japan early next month. If you wish to stay connected with Wildcard Gaming, you can follow them on Twitter or Facebook for all updates. 


  • Written by Ben Scott.
  • Edited by Adam Taylor and Freddie Tresidder.