Interview with François-Xavier Deniele: EMEA Esports Director

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In our “Milan Madness” series, we pick the brains of players and behind-the-scenes staff in the lead-up to the Season 9 Finals. Here, we chat with the EMEA Esports Director.

Driving the esports department of a certain region is no small job. Driving it for three games is even more challenging, but that is exactly what François-Xavier Deniele does in his role as the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Asia) Esports Director.

While the public does not see him on screen at events like Jan "BK-201" Moerland or Brand Director Alexander Remy, Deniele has a lot of impact on Siege esports, especially in the EMEA region. He and his team is constantly on the hunt for new markets for expansion, and the constant growth of current markets.

François-Xavier Deniele

As part of the management in charge of Rainbow Six Esports, his role is crucial if Siege is to reach the heights of other esports, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO). Deniele's impact is also not solely limited to the esports side of things, but also reaches out to improving playing conditions in general as needed, which in turn can spur the growth of a robust esports scene in the region.

To find out more about him and his team as the Season 9 Finals get closer, SiegeGG asked Deniele a few questions:

Can you explain to us what exactly your job entails?

As EMEA Esports Director, my role is to drive the esport department at Ubisoft EMEA to develop the International Esports Program for Ubisoft’s line-up and reinforce the local esports presence within Ubisoft EMEA’s 15 different subsidiaries and their national competitive scene.

In an interview with PCGamesN at the Season 8 Pro League Finals, you had said, "we have some very good ideas for the south-east of Asia with the Thailand market". Could you elaborate?

South-East Asia is growing and becoming increasingly important in the Rainbow Six esport scene. Strong teams are emerging in this region, teams that performed well and showed off their skills in the APAC Finals such as Xavier Esports from Thailand –  they were top of the South East Asian Pro League this season (and the last) – so we are definitely looking at ways to support our competitive scene there.

Any hints on the location for the Season 10 Pro League Finals?

The Year 4 Roadmap for Siege Esports (iBuyPower's Minor has since become the Alliance Esports Minor)

At the moment we’re exclusively focused on the Season 9 Pro League Finals happening in the wonderful city of Milan this weekend, so unfortunately, I have nothing to share on next season’s Finals. More information will be communicated at a later date.

How does it feel that APAC is going to be hosting a full-fledged Pro League Finals?

It’s been incredible to see how fast and beautifully the APAC scene has been growing in the Rainbow Six esports ecosystem and we’re super excited to bring the Pro League Finals there for the first time!

With two “Tier 1” organisations now in APAC, how optimistic are you that more will be following suit soon?

Our APAC scene has been thriving since we first welcomed teams from this region back in Season 6 during the Sao Paulo Pro League Finals. We’ve been extremely enthusiastic to see new organizations emerge and grow in this region such as NORA-Rengo, which built a strong community and an impressive legitimacy in Japan on their own.

As I see it, the arrival of major organizations is a second step. The arrival of Fnatic last year and Cloud9 with the former Mantis FPS roster last April, shows how appealing the APAC scene has become for such Tier 1 organizations. It will continue to put the spotlight on those scenes, so we’re confident that it will keep on growing in the future.

How involved are you in helping organisations connect with teams? For example, Cloud9 and mantisFPS and 0RGL3SS and whichever organisations may be interested.

Cloud9 signed the mantisFPS roster earlier this year

Our only role is to educate organizations on the Rainbow Six esport ecosystem to give them a clear picture of the teams currently competing in each region. We do not get involved in their strategy and decision-making in any way.

What more can we expect as far as esports are concerned in the Middle East and Africa?

Overall, we’re always looking at ways to grow the Rainbow Six esport scene worldwide. At the moment Ubisoft is working closely with Microsoft Azure on the technical aspect of bringing dedicated Rainbow Six Siege servers in South Africa in order to provide the best gameplay experience for players of this region.

Who do you think is going to be winning at Milan?

This season, the long-lasting favorites G2 Esports didn’t make it to the Finals so it’s pretty exciting for all the teams. After their defeat against G2 in the Six Invitational 2019 Grand Final in February, will Team Empire get the crown now that G2 is out? Will we see an APAC team get the title for the first time in Pro League Finals? I guess we’ll see this weekend!

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The Milan finals are taking place on the 18th and 19th of May, which Francois-Xavier Deniele is sure to be watching keenly. To keep up to date on Milan coverage before, during, and after the event, be sure to check back here at SiegeGG.