SportsPro editor at large Eoin Connolly speaks to Christian and Damien Devaux, the co-founders of World Chase Tag, about the realities of launching a new sport in the 21st century.
The brothers reflect on WCT’s brief journey from the back garden to a burgeoning global series, refining the rules and creating a global network of athletes, enthusiasts and promotional partners. They also explain how they have been working out their commercial strategy, from digital content to relationships with broadcasters like ESPN and Channel 4, the governance and business models they are looking to, and what they are learning about how to get fans invested in a sport.
Full podcast transcript
Unknown Speaker 0:00 I don’t know if you guys have ever seen or had any other journalist compare it to basketball the 90s film with creators of South Park where they Unknown Speaker 0:08 never heard it. I’ve never heard of that. I like South Park. I never heard that. That’s one to add to listen, I guess. But Unknown Speaker 0:13 anyway, Unknown Speaker 0:14 basketball. I like that. Unknown Speaker 0:23 Hi everyone, and welcome once again to the sports pro podcast. My name is Aaron Connolly. I’m the editor at large at sports Pro. hope you’re well. So what’s it like to launch a new sport in the 21st century? Where do you even start? That basically is what we’re going to be talking about today with Kristian and Damian DeVoe, the co founders of world chase tac, it is as it sounds, a codified version of the playground game with a chaser pursuing an Aveda across a 12 metre square quad for 20 seconds, the winner of each encounter is awarded a point for their team. Those are the basics, the result? Well, it’s probably worth checking out for yourself. It’s like a claustrophobic burst of park or played out under lights for videos on social media and broadcast this including ESPN, NBC Channel Four, and Japan’s Fuji TV and NHK. The series is still very much in its commercial infancy. But its journey even to this point has been pretty remarkable, literally starting in a back garden before being taken out to the world. Some of the issues they’ve encountered in the past few years mirror those facing a lot of sports organisations right now, understanding where their athletes are coming from company structure and the strategy regarding partnerships and international expansion, developing licencing and IP and above all, getting people excited about wild chase tag. At the same time, they found themselves dealing with quandaries that older sports have had decades to work through. But they also have a freedom to tackle problems that comes with starting from scratch. It’s a conversation like maybe none we’ve had before on the podcast. Hopefully, you’ll find it thought provoking, and a lot of fun. We’ve been delighted actually to find that more and more people have been listening to the sportspro podcast in the last month. Welcome to you if you’re a newcomer, welcome back, if you’ve been with us all along, we appreciate you quick favour though if you are enjoying the pod, and then please do subscribe. Leave us a nice rating and review on your podcast channel. Like and share the content we’re putting out on social media and joining the conversation yourself with the hashtag sports pro pod. We’re always trying to make the podcast better here and looking for ways to get our listeners more involved. But of course, we’d love to keep building that community as well. Anyway, that is more than enough from me for now. We’ve got a lot to get through with wild chase tags, Christian and Damien DeVoe. Christian and Damian DeVoe. cofounders of world chase tag, welcome to the sportspro podcast. Unknown Speaker 2:55 Thank you so much. It’s good pleasure to be here. Unknown Speaker 2:57 Thanks for having us. Unknown Speaker 2:58 Great to have you both with us. Yeah, I know I understand the two of you have not been too well in the last few weeks. I hope you’re you’re doing better and, and bouncing back in and raring to go. We’ve got Yeah, lots of get through about basically the story of of creating a sport in the 21st century, and everything that that’s entailed and kind of what you’ve learned from it and all the rest. But I think it will benefit a lot of people listening to start at the beginning. We’ll talk about the kind of origin story of wild chase tag, but what is it First of all, what’s what’s the, one of the rules of the game for anybody who’s not familiar? Unknown Speaker 3:36 Well, it’s basically it basically elite level tag, basically, that’s how you that’s how you describe it’s one of the oldest sports or games in the world. And we get a lot of sort of the best quality athletes we can to chase against each other. It’s a team sport, how we get the most popular format is a team sport. Each team has up to six athletes. And we have one on one chases, says one person from each team. One person is a chaser, and one person is the Vader. And they’re split into 22nd chases, and you get a point if you can last 20 seconds without getting caught. And basically how it works is that the winners always stays on as Aveda. So if I’m going on to chase and I tag my opponent, I stay on as the invader and you get one point if you can last 20 seconds without getting caught. And it basically works like a kind of like a Yeah, like a winner stays on and each matches the best of 16 chases. And that’s that’s kind of the basics of it really. So it’s a very fast paced sport and it’s kind of suit social media because the Chase is very short. And the each match is about usually works out to be between about eight to 12 minutes. So like using you know, a sport for the 21st century so it’s very, we tried to make it very short and very snappy, and hopefully an exciting, fun sport to watch. Unknown Speaker 4:56 Christian what’s the How did you come up with that because you We will talk about the process of refining it and codifying your codifying a playground game, which is kind of quite fun in itself. And you’ve ended up with this spectacle that’s kind of somewhere between parkour and you know, at an gladiators, I’m not sure. But where did it all, where did it all begin? Unknown Speaker 5:19 It kind of just started in the back garden. I have a son, who is really into just like tiger and just like chasing around and stuff. And he didn’t want to do any of the normal sports that like I did, like football or cricket, you know, when I was young. And so he just wanted to chase him. So we used to our games of tag, they were kind of fun. And we, we used to put different obstacles like a bin and a bench and stuff like that. And then it kind of just expanded out. And then one day, which was the sort of maybe the, the Eureka moment, he said, as he was getting older, he reckoned he could he was better than me at tag, right. And so he said, Yeah, and so we tried to figure out a way to prove who is better who he was about eight at the time, by the way, and, and so I felt I didn’t need to prove him wrong. So basically, we got two iPhones, one that counted down a minute. And then the other one was, someone would wait on the touchline and they would just press start and stop every time one of the athletes, one of the competitors was on tag. So in the once the minute it finished of the one time, you look back at the other time, and if your tag time was more than 30 seconds, then you were the loser, the other one had a like a shorter tag time, you know, so it avoids you need to tag backs. And I thought, wow, that would be really good. Imagine if you had like elite level athletes playing that about just look awesome, you know, and, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time, because I was working, my background is in hotels, and I was working full time. And so when that job came to an end, I started to think about what to do. And I thought maybe this is a good time to maybe to start this and see what happens. So I did some research. I found a patent lawyer and I patented a timing system based on what we had done, which is kind of useless unless you have a sport to apply to. So that’s kind of where the journey began is trying to create a sport so that we sort of did it like backwards, you know, because the we let the sort of pattern tried to dictate. So it started, I started a meetup group in Hyde Park with my son. And we would just use barrier tape around trees and that sort of thing. And then, and then, as we came out, like we went from there, and that was in summer we started then we went into like a park or gym, we started to get more things. And then the pocket Joe was about right. And then Damon was in Japan Damien came back. And then we decided, let’s try this properly. So we got some scaffolding. And we just basically made a cord that we thought would be the ideal cord. And we we said, what we’ll do is we’ll get some parkour athletes, and we’ll put them on the quad and see what happens. And we 100% decided that in this day and age, if a sport doesn’t look good, there’s no point it could be fun to play, and it could be a good idea and everything, but if it doesn’t look good, just forget about it. And we decided we spent about 5000 on the scaffolding. I we thought okay, you know, it’s the scaffolding is good to have like, because you could always do other stuff with it. So we, um, we said, if the athletes don’t look good, we were 100% gonna walk away. We gave ourselves two dates, with about three weeks in between to refine the obstacles if the first one didn’t go. And the first so they warmed up. And we thought, yeah, this is looking good. And we were very lucky that we happened upon a guy called Chi Willis, who was in a team called storm. And he found four athletes from storm and he found four athletes from stara. And just to let you know stories, for those of you that might not know, at the time store had about 100,000 or less they had about 50,000 followers on YouTube. Today store I have over 7 million subscribers on YouTube. They’re the the biggest targeting so we were very lucky to get these and the athletes in in stone were equally good. And I’m the first chase with the southern woman that we thought yeah, I think there’s going to be good. And then the very first Chase, a guy called Ashley Holland, he turned around and hit his head and he cut he put his head like I said, and then I remember just seeing blood coming through his fingers over guard. No. This is like you know, and then went into the bathroom Mark tomorrow. And we didn’t have any we just had a first aid kit rather than a like Medical, which is sort of lesson number one. And then, and then the second Chase, we just thought, holy shit right from the beginning, we realised my this looks absolutely amazing. We made a few refinements. But like when we came back three weeks later, it was awesome as well. Unknown Speaker 10:16 And we always thought as well, right from the first day when Christian was talking about the iPhones and timing it that eureka moment, we kind of thought at that point, yeah, if done properly, this can be really, really entertaining to watch. So I think we always knew at some point that yeah, this is done right, this could be good. And that day kind of confirmed it. That first session we had, but after that, after that first thing, the so we had at any one time on the field, we had six athletes. And it was like traditional tag, the tag was passed from player to player. And then we had six people off the quad we stopwatches each timing how long that player was on tack. But we realised if there was a mistake with the referees, and you know, it was very confusing to then go back and rectify that mistake. And another thing we noticed, so is it from a referee point of view. And a timing point of view is very complicated. We also realise that, from a filming point of view, it was very difficult to tell who was on tags, it’s sometimes very confusing, and there was no sort of focus of attention. And if you look at something like dodgeball, when that first starts, and you have I don’t know much about the rules, but let’s say you have, like, you know, five people on each team, and they’re all throwing balls around the place, it’s very difficult to sort of know what’s going on. And we found the same thing with our version when they were like six people on the court. So we thought and it was kind of flawed, because sometimes people could sort of gang up on one person and sort of make sure he was always on track. And so we sort of started to refine the rules a bit. And that’s when we came up with the kind of winner stays on. And you know that one chase or one Aveda kind of thing, another thing we noticed as well as it, when they get tired, if one athlete gets tired, and he’s on tack, the whole game kind of grinds to a halt, because there’s just he can’t get rid of the tag. So that’s when we also changed the chases down to 20 seconds. And so we made some refinements to the format. And then we started, we continued with the meetups from there, and just refined that form and format again and again and again. And then in December 2016, we had our first event, and, and that at the quad design. So the quad is the arena, we play on the quad design that was quite busy. It was our first event, we did a couple of practice sessions doing the one on one chases, it went quite well in the practice sessions. But when we actually went to the and did the proper event, we found that that level of athletes was much more similar. They’re much more competitive, they’re much more hyped up. And people are getting caught very, very quickly. And so even from that first event, a lot of refining happened even from the first event and we weren’t really happy with the chases from the first event. But we put out one of the chases from that the first full chase we put out on social media. I think we put it out on the first of January 2017. And within about three days we’d had I think we’ve got more than a million views, which at the time for us was like much more than anything we’d ever done from before, you know. So I think those were the two sort of key moments in refining the kind of format, you know, from a multiplayer system to a much more focused one on one chases. Unknown Speaker 13:20 Yeah. What’s what’s the timeline for that then? So that’s from about the start of the decade to 2017. We’re talking where you’re where you have that first kind of breakout, but no, it wasn’t that long. Unknown Speaker 13:31 It wasn’t that long. It’s probably two years. Oh, wow. Yeah. Oh, if not a year, what was the difference between? Unknown Speaker 13:37 Well, like, when we when we were just doing in the garden, this was probably like 2008 or something like that, but nothing. I didn’t do anything with it. I didn’t start i think i i think the patent itself runs from like June 2014, something like that. So we started the meetup group. Yeah, that’s summer 2014. But I started to think about seriously they like doing the whole concept, early 2013 or late, late 13 or early 14. But the the test shoot that we did was in 2015. And then the first event was in 2016. Unknown Speaker 14:22 It’s an amazing story just on its face. It’s it’s, you know, the proper homebrew sport. I don’t know if you guys have ever seen or had any other journalists compare it to basketball the 90s film with creators of South Park where they Unknown Speaker 14:37 never heard it. I’ve never heard of that. I like South but I never heard that. That’s one to add to listen, I Unknown Speaker 14:40 guess. But anyway, basketball, I like that. But anyway, what were you What were your ambitions for it initially? What was it? Was this a case of we can patent something that’s like a physical leisure activity or did you always have the broadcasting in life Unknown Speaker 14:56 when we were in the garden, the ambition was to look beat my son and prove to him that, you know, I’m still better, right? Unknown Speaker 15:04 That’s where all the great achievements start. Unknown Speaker 15:08 But as we as I was in 2014, you know, when I, when I was in between jobs, you know, I just I made it very clear decision that actually I was going to pursue this as a career. So, yeah, it is a slightly strange thing to do, because I did have a good job. But this is what I decided to do at this moment in time, because I felt that the opportunity was there. And I noticed that so right from the beginning, I was clear about what we’re trying to do and, and my goal is kind of still the same, it’s to do what we’re doing and make it sustainable for all of the people involved in that. And when I say all, I mean, not just like myself, and Damian, who are the only full time employees, but for the what I call, like, the wider ecosystem, so that everybody that participates in chase tag in some capacity, whether you can, whether you’re involved as an athlete, or whether you own a gym, and you’re doing classes, or you’re an instructor, you know, or if you’re like one of the partners that we have that come in sponsored event, these are all part of the ecosystem. And these are, you know, the goal is always to get it to the stage where that whole community is profitable. Unknown Speaker 16:30 And from a from a company point of view. Because we were kind of where we started, we were kind of working in a vacuum, there was no kind of reference points to, you know, work towards your end and look at, and we were constantly being pulled in different directions once we started to release stuff on social media, like a lot of people a lot of American TV companies were asking us to if they want to collaborate on some sort of Ninja Warrior style TV programme around TAC. And they always used to start off saying, Oh, yeah, we want to get good athletes and this and then afterward, it always, the conversation would always go to direction of kind of dumbing it down to getting Oh, yeah, let’s get kind of a not so fit guy or old guy against a really good guy and be funny. And we started to think this just isn’t what we want to do. So we really tried to focus on what our aim was as a company. And we realised, you know, we never really thought we would need a mission statement as such. But we realised Actually, it’s really important, and the one we came up with isn’t really that great, but I think it’s really served as well. And what we want to do as a company is our aim is to see the best athletes Chase, how have we facilitate that. Our aim is we want to see the best athletes Chase. And so at the moment, most of our athletes come from a park or background, but one of the aims is to have the athlete training full time. So we can see these elite sort of athletes training on the quad and competing on the quad. And that’s that’s the sort of company aim to see the best athletes Chase. Unknown Speaker 17:53 Yeah, but let’s talk about the company. What’s the structure at the moment, Unknown Speaker 17:57 at the moment, do any real employees, we have a section myself and Damian, we have, there’s a guy called Marcus Mead, who I met him actually on YouTube, he was he made a comment on some video. And we got talking, like offline. And he is he was a young guy, like Park Park, or young Park, not an elite professional parkour athlete. But he used to film stuff and do parkour related videos at the time. And he, he was just about to start University doing like film something like this. But he dropped out of that, mainly because he felt that he knew a lot more about the camera operations and editing and the process is done is like lecturer, you know, and actually, we find that in the pocket community, a lot of people go down the same path of, you know, going to film school and just dropping out because they’re they they’re much more advanced than either the lecturer or the rest of the class, you know. So he’s sort of involved with us at the moment. Right from the beginning, he did all the events even did the the test shoot with us. And so he’s there. We also have I tell television professional, called Mike Breslin, who we met initially, when he was with working freelance with sunset and Vine. And Mike, Mike was the one that helped us transition from Unknown Speaker 19:28 just doing like, predominantly YouTube, to doing the sort of broadcast quality events that would be necessary to take it on to linear television. So he introduced us to Channel Four. And he he produced that show that we did for Channel Four, which then later went on to gogglebox. They took like an element from it. And then and then, shortly after that, we we were speaking to some partners in the US And now they’ve taken some equity shareholding in the company and this company does these binders are called Tupelo honey productions. And so Mike continue to work with us and, and the CEO of this company, carry glitter. And we did a show initially for NBC. And then when that contract expired now we’ve got a longer term deal with ESPN, and a commitment to broadcast on them. So when we do events over there, Mike is still involved. But it’s under a Tupelo honey production. And then when we do events over here, like for television, these are produced by Mike Yeah, those are the main, like, sort of freelance people that that we have, and how our company is sort of set up. But we have like a wider group of people that we use around the world, because right from the start, we call ourselves like, well chased out. And we wanted, we were interested in seeing this, because this is an activity that’s everywhere, right? So and almost the problem, I think, that we have is that there’s we’re almost spoiled by having too many different directions. But it’s a really dangerous, it’s a really dangerous conundrum. Because, you know, people talk about, oh, we should do anime, or we should do merge, or we should do a video game of VR, you know, because like with VR, for example, there aren’t many sport, everyone talks about sport and VR, there aren’t many sports that have such a contained area that we do our quad is 12 metres by 12 metres, where we can actually incorporate cameras into the quad as part of the obstacle, you know, and there aren’t many sports that you can’t just plunk like a 360 camera, in the middle of a football field, the whole rules have changed so so we almost have like too much choice. And for us, it was very important that we decided like, Okay, what are we going to focus on, and our main focus is events and events and developing a spark partnership. And, and then increasing our, our presence on social media, mainly, like at this stage, like on YouTube, right? So we do like algorithm friendly edits on YouTube. And then on our website, we intend to do more, maybe slightly longer edits that might be more sort of, like fan base, and that sort of thing, you know, but for us, essentially, our goal and in the sort of short term is to create a number of events around the world. And we look at it like we call it the Ws D event pyramid. So at the top of the pennant, and it works a bit like, I suppose, like Champions League, at the top of the pyramid, you have the World Championship, so we’d have one a year. The second row of the pyramid would be what we call continental championships, and we would split the world into three. So we have pan America, Europe, Middle East Africa, and we have Asia. And the idea would be to have three of those a year, then the third row of the pyramid would be nationals. So we’d do like US National, UK, China, that sort of thing. And then fourth row would be like regionals. So who qualifies for the regionals? Now how we would set up the company is that on the first two rows of the pyramid, ie the World Championships, and the Continental championships, these will always be events that will chase that produces ourselves. On the third row, the Nationals like the EU, the US and the UK, and France, and these are probably an era that we would want to maintain control over. But there are some territories that we would, we would give it up to a licence. For example, in China, we’ve signed a deal with a company through our partners that we have in China. Two guys called on Carlos Shapiro and Martina Chen, who are part of Shanghai park or Association on link porco. And we are working with ghost sports we signed a deal with ghost born and go sport through Karla Martino they took and they did on a slightly smaller quad eight metre, they took it around to 10 cities in China and then it culminates in the China championship which would be under the Oriental Pearl in Shanghai on the at the end of October. So we did the under licence and and that seems to be going really well. They’re doing a really good job. And that’s sort of Yeah, the people there seem to be really taking it so and China’s good because we like we don’t speak Chinese, we can’t use their social media. So Carla Medina setup which is like bilibili for us, and and monitoring it to there. And then with other countries where you don’t even have the symbols, like it’s hard to search and it’s hard to communicate properly. These countries will probably do like under licence, but the maybe more European countries, these are things that we will probably do ourselves, you know. And then when we come to regionals, we’re working again, we’ve split the world into the same three areas. We have one guy who’s doing pan America, his name is Mark to rock from American popcorn. And then for the Europe, Middle East and Africa, we’re working with a guy called Loic astorino was part of he has a gym in lianca cameo, which is part of like Ecole de porco. And then Asia is under the control of the guys in China, like kinda mattina. And the idea is that if a gym wants to do, like, under the wheelchair, like banner will have a certification programme, that as long as they had the right kind of quad, and they did the right health and safety with the elements of the quad constructing it, and also in, in teaching it, then they could be like a WC certified entity that could hold regional events. And so we will do it through them, you know, so between that we try and, like have everything so that it comes under the same umbrella, which is very important for us, because the last thing you want is if we will divide it up, and we were running like competitive tag in different things, then, you know, we will be strong. And being a new sport, it’s really important that, you know, we can get strength by, we don’t have the budgets that the other sports have. But if we have strength in numbers, by uniting the world, this makes it easier for us. And eventually, when we do get through to the big global brands, then we’ll have all the territories tied up. Yeah, Unknown Speaker 26:38 it’s an interesting model. I mean, it, it sounds like, you know, commercially, it’s almost like an events company would be run up or very lean, but you work with lots of freelancers, or it’s like, you know, TV production company, as well in that you have a kind of IP asset that you then work with other people to develop and licenced around the world. But from a sports perspective, with their, with their models that you look to, to guide you in that process, did you look at the kind of traditional Federation model that you get in, you know, in established sports, like football? And did you look at the professional leagues? Where, what made sense for you guys? putting this together? Unknown Speaker 27:16 Yeah, I mean, that that, like, that’s an interesting question, but one of the things that we, we always look like IP was really important for us, right? Because, you know, through having the controlling the rules, so we copyrighted The Rules, an early stage. And, and the rules are really important for us. And this is, we have, like, what we call when we were developing the sport, which is a slightly different question that maybe gaming could expand on, when we drove we developed like a chase cycle and the definite pattern for doing everything but but for us, in terms of how we set up everything from a business point of view, yeah, we focused like on on the IP, eventually, we will do, we will do like a World Cup type event where it’s not at the moment is when I said it’s like Champions League, I meant in the sense that it’s like Liverpool, or event us or so that you can have different nationalities competing. It’s where’s the team is from? Yeah, it’s not like an international event, like the World Cup, where you’re France, against England, against Germany against Brazil, you know, so but eventually we will do that. And, and when that happens, that I think, probably requires some degree of Federation, because it’d be very difficult to know who to pick the teams. And there’ll be a lot of controversy, and maybe animosity there. You know, so we need the Federation as the sort of the buffer zone between us and the athletes. And that’s the thing. We’ve had some preliminary conversations about that. And eventually, we will go down that route. But for the time being, the main thing for us is to just move forward with our current form. Unknown Speaker 29:02 And where do you Where are you finding athletes from at the moment? What’s the abuse, you don’t have talent, pathways and stuff set up? But where? Unknown Speaker 29:09 Yes, mostly from the parkour community really. When we first started, we were thinking the quad design was very open. So the initial idea was like, oh, it would be amazing to get like an American football running back to play against like a tennis player, or a sprinter or a hurdler or something. And that was the original idea. But then just from playing in the garden, and having the meetups you realise the more obstacles there are, the more interesting it gets. So that gradually over time, the core design got more and more complicated, more and more complicated, and because of that, we realised Well, the best people for obstacles, negotiating obstacles are parkour athletes. So yeah, most of most of the and this may change in the future. But most of the athletes come from either park or background or Ninja Warrior background or stunt men who used to, you know, basically negotiating obstacles. And I think over time that may change. We’ve had a lot of people from American football be interested in potentially taking part. But I think some sort of grounding in park or or Ninja Warrior will be essential one of the people on board who’s been really interested to compete but unfortunately haven’t been able to get it together yet is a Olympic silver medal hurdler, 110, metre hurdler, he does a lot of Ninja Warrior programmes now. And I think something that would be very interesting. So I think hopefully in future, we’ll have a wider background of athletes. But I think you know, what, they all come from a parkour background. And I think that’ll be the case for the next, you know, couple years. Unknown Speaker 30:39 Yeah, particularly when you talk about the, the first thing that happened was someone banging their head, they do need to be pretty skilled at that particular discipline. But it’s Unknown Speaker 30:48 that’s an interesting point as well. And that’s the thing that parkour athletes, this is their environment, their training, they get, you know, hours and hours every day on scaffolding and walls, and the obstacle is very similar. So their skill set, you know, we’ve been really fortunate because, and this is all luck. It’s not any kind of, you know, skill on our behalf. But we realised that tag was quite an interesting game. And it was very entertaining if you got good people to watch it. But also on the on the other side of that, we had a whole community of people like parkour athletes, that their skills just translate perfectly for this sport. And one of the really interesting things with Parkour is that when we first started, even before we did our first event, I remember going to the British Library to try and get some information just on how many people do Park up. And I remember asking, asking the library, you know, for this data, and they were saying, Oh, no, Parkour is much too much of a nice sport. They don’t have any data. And no one’s done any research on it. I was I was just like, Okay, fair enough, you know. And then literally, about three years later, they did a, I think it was sport, England did a survey, and it suddenly jumped up to a medium sized sport. So I think more people on a regular basis, do parkour than skateboarding. And that same trend has been mirrored all over the world. So suddenly, this thing, I mean, certainly 20, sort of 20 years old, right from the origin to it. But even in the last 10 years, it’s come from something that had no data on at all, to suddenly being this medium sized sport. And I think one of the things that helped it, well, that sort of made it go under the radar is that there’s no equipment, you don’t need any equipment to do it. You just wear a pair of trainers, or some people even trained barefoot, you could do it on the beach, you can do it in a city, up in the mountains in woods. And so I think a lot of people don’t really appreciate how big sort of the parkour community is. Another interesting stat is that if you go onto Google Trends on YouTube, and you look up all extreme sports, over the whole world, more people are searching for parkour videos than any other extreme sport, more than sort of surfing skateboarding BMX, in anything we get. And so we were very lucky that we had these two things, you know, the parkour community, and then the symbol game of tag. And the combination of those two things we realised was actually very entertaining to watch. So I think, you know, I think it was it was luck on our behalf. But it was kind of it was kind of an interesting situation. Unknown Speaker 33:12 Yeah. So it’s almost been an exercise in networking for you guys to build enough connections with that community to get people who can compete. Do you see it as now, WC T is being like a companion or a partner. not officially, but kind of complimentary thing to, to parkour as parkour develops, because obviously, there’s also, you know, in to take it into the Federation, well, for a second, there are all kinds of disputes about who gets to run parkour. And whether it’s a part of gymnastics and all of this kind of thing. Unknown Speaker 33:44 I think I powercore. I mean, we, it has connections with parkour, obviously. But I think a better way of looking at it is just looking at it. From a movement point of view. If you look at sort of just movement, in general, you have sort of rock climbing all the way through to like breakdancing, and that includes like tricking in a way gymnastics, you know, straight park or free running. And I think were a sliver of that whole movement background. And it just so happens that parkour athletes tend to be the ones that translate our skill to us, but I don’t really think I mean, it’s not for us to really, from our point of view, we do chase tech. And there’s very strong connections to powercore. And, you know, we’re flattered by it, but a lot of parkour people have sort of, sort of said that this was this is now a parkour competition. And, I mean, it’s difficult to say whether we agree with that or not, because we just look at it, we do what we do. The parkour community is the best at, you know, at the sport that we do. The parkour community is the best and, and so that’s where the connection lies. But as far as we’re concerned, we do chase tech. Unknown Speaker 34:51 Okay, let’s um, let’s turn it around and look at the fans and and your development of a fan base. For well, Chase tag, what? I’ll start with my reaction to this for the first time I saw it and I think I was saying, just before we came on, I couldn’t decide if it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, or if it was an act of complete genius, but I basically was flicking through the channels on Channel Four on a Saturday morning, and, you know, highlights of one of your events out in the US last year came on, but what’s the, what’s been the reaction typically, that you come across, when you’re Unknown Speaker 35:28 that’s the reaction? That’s the exact reaction. It’s like, this is ridiculous, but I really like it. You’re always This is stupid, but I can’t stop watching it. I certainly can’t, you know. So there’s been some really interesting reactions. And one of the really interesting reactions from the stunt was that people said, a lot of people said it gave them anxiety. And to me, I found that very interesting, because it means that there’s a I think there’s, if you go back to when we were cavemen, the act of being chased or chasing was a life or death situation. It always was 400 years ago, you know, 4000 years ago, if you were chased, you were being chased for your life. And I think there’s some kind of emotional response to see him being people being chased. And so that was one of the actions that one of the positive reactions that we thought, actually yeah, I think we’re onto something here, because it does have that reaction. Unknown Speaker 36:20 But if I go back to the parkour community, like at the beginning, sure, people would be like, what is this? Like? This is crazy. I love it. Yeah. But there were people in the parkour community, starting probably with a team called moraira. Again, that looked at it, and said, No, this is what I want to do. Right? And then we were very fortunate that a lot over time other people, there’s an athlete called, like, and determine who came to meet up and he was like, yeah, this is I like it took it very, very, very seriously. And then he formed a team called what’s called huge and now with two other guys called Richard and Haroon, then Sebastian Foucault who is the recognised as being the founder of free running, and he was in the same group that started Parker with David Bell. And this is the stuntman from the Casino Royale opening scene. He called us up before, like, I think it was the second event that we were doing, and he goes, I want to compete. I really like what you’re doing. Yeah. And so there was some people that immediately saw no, no, no, I’m taking this really, really seriously. For the fans, right? It was just like a, like a wide cross section. And the way the YouTube algorithm works, it’s mainly, like boys aged between, like, 13 and going up to probably 35. Yeah. Do you know and it’s like a wide sexual. Yeah, probably people that like anime and people that, like computer games will a high portion of it. Yeah. Some people it would the algorithm is going to be a lot of people comments are saying, I don’t really like sport, but I like this. Yeah, this is the only sport I want to watch, which I think is interesting. I’m not sure exactly how the algorithm is working, picking up some people. But over time, you know, like what we did to generate those early funds we because we didn’t have any social media following like when we did the first event. I think we had probably 1000 followers like on on YouTube or something like that. And then after shortly after we put out a couple videos and Facebook kicked off. And then so a lot of other time Facebook had a different strategy. So a lot of the lad Bibles, the union lads, they would typically ask us, oh, can we show a clip of your video on our page? And so they got the benefit of that through? I don’t know if they had associated marketing they grew their channels a lot because some of these videos were getting 10 million 20 million because some of these pages like like unilateral lad Bible had a 20 million followers or something like that, right? So you know, through the these people sharing stuff, it went out to a huge volume of people, like 100 million views like around the world and so we got kind of superficial fans, so people, I wouldn’t even necessarily call them fans because they didn’t necessarily subscribe to us. But they were like, I’ve seen that you know, and not without regard. And then over time, we started to like more put our matches, we started to understand how to do stuff like with YouTube. And when things started to kick off with YouTube, then we started to get like proper fans, right? But and Damon just like identified like, what is sport? Like recently So up until like relatively recently. What is will chase as a sport, basically what action? Yeah, but sport is not About action. And David identified, like two other key areas, right? sport is about, it’s about action to begin with, right? It’s about emotion. And it’s about strategy. And I think for us going forward, we’ve only just really tackled the action. And what we found, since we started, I think, probably after, wc 84, right, so in timewise, WC four happened, like 2019. And we were on a really nice, like momentum. And then, for us, what happened with COVID was that that really threw our momentum. Because for us, when you’re small, the only the best way for us to compete with some of the people bigger than us, is to do international events, right. And to, you know, and have, I want to see how the Japanese does against the Americans against the French against the Brits. When you can’t do that. It’s a real problem. So we had these American investors that came in, Unknown Speaker 41:04 like at the beginning of 2020. And the only thing we could do, because of the ban on international travel was a was a national competition. So we decided to go and do like the Americans. And round about that time, after we did the Americans, we did some other things as well, like, and one of the things we did was we put out these playing cards, we were just trialling it to see like athlete trading cards. So we worked out a formula with Marcus. And we’ve recently refined this formula with a guy called max from from, from Colorado. And the formula works out, we have scores for the athletes that’s based on like their tag time evasion time, we call it like the Zed score, but basically they end up with a number. That should be like how good you are as an athlete, right? And so people, it’s created discussion. And what we’ve found now we’ve gone from just action. Right? Now we’re going into strategy and a touch of emotion, you know, the emotion hasn’t really kicked in yet. But you definitely strategy has and when you start when you do get to emotion, because we have so many athletes and people are now I find that our true friends are beginning to talk about more stuff, we mark to rock from America, Parker started a discord channel that’s sort of quite active and popular, where a lot of athletes could come on, and a lot of fans could come. And so it’s great for the fans, because the fans get to meet some of the athletes that they’ve seen, like on YouTube or on ESPN or wherever. And, and that whole interaction thing is working really good. But we and it’s helping strategy to people having now discussions about like this strategy and disguise good, and that guy’s good. And so that’s, I think for us, it’s important that we worried at the beginning, like, does the sport have the depth that sport needs for these discussions to take place? Because over the weekend, we got the UFC, we got Anthony Joshua, and people are talking and talking and talking right. And the fight could be over. You know, we, collectively, they might have been hundreds and hundreds of hours of discussion. And then boom, somewhere gets sparked in 10 seconds. Yeah. And so but we don’t mind we just wait, that’s, you know, we’re happy. We actually we don’t feel shortchanged, we think Yeah, but it’s all worth it. Right? And so, you know, and that’s part of sport books. We don’t gossip, I don’t care if this one is this one divorced, I wonder who is this? Who cares about that we care about, you know, is this team and when is that guy fresh? Is this guy injured, you know, these things matter to us, you know, and, and so that’s a really important part. And then once we start understanding who the athletes are, and the stakes, you know, once a bit more money comes into sport and pro, you know, then stakes goes up, then emotions come in, and then that’s when it’s gonna, you know, it’s just gonna get even better, you know, Unknown Speaker 44:08 what does that mean for the development of the sport now, because you also, I suppose you’re coming along, an interesting point in, in the development of, of sports fandom, where individuals derive a lot of compensation. And you can also create these kind of network effects by having people who are creating their own content or people who are, you know, bringing their own followings to something like this. Is it going to be the athletes who drive some of that attachment that you’re talking about some of that excitement or you’re going to need to build team brands? I know you kind of work with existing squads of parkour Renaissance stuff, but how do you see that developing? Unknown Speaker 44:45 I think it’s a bit of both really, I mean, we’re going to continue our main priority is to get the the event pyramid sorted out. So we always look at ourselves and that’s one of the things we realised from the start, is if we can show the best athletes. That’s why We want to show the best athlete Chase, then we kind of believe that if people see the pinnacle of the sport, then the grass roots will grow will kind of grow itself with our help, it’ll kind of grow itself. And so our main priority at the moment is to, is to continue with this event pyramid. For each event, we want to, you know, we want to make team profiles and get them to know the athletes better. But what we really unfortunate about as well as a lot of parkour athletes park or kind of exists online, and a lot of the content is created by the parkour athletes himself. So each, a lot of the good teams like Star, they will create this amazing content. And like a lot of teams, like one of the teams we have compete with us in the Americas is the unknown project, they have these weekly videos that are very nicely shot, and have some really nice content. So I think a lot of the A lot of our teams will create vlogs at our events, videos are events, and they’ll have things of them training and things are captured that will help grow the sport and familiar people familiarise yourself with it. Also, what we’re finding is that a lot of people around the world and this, you know, goes down to gyms, or even people at school, or even kids in their back garden, you know, we’ve been tagged in so many videos from literally around the world in India, Japan, Wales, Australia, I’ve just people just recording their own 22nd chases. And that’s something we might try and do on a regular basis is compile all that footage, and put together sort of regular, regular compilation videos of just fan chases. And so I think it’s sort of common now. It’s been strange. And even if you look at the law, you know, if you look at September and October, totally independent to us, we have an event in Lamond, I mentioned Antwerp, Amsterdam and in Shanghai. And so and also there was a meetup or been a few meetups in America that people have recorded their own chase tag and had their own small meetups and competitions. So now we find right across the board, right from what we’re doing at the hopefully the top of the pyramid, all the way down to two teams that compete with us down to the true grassroots level, which is kind of just kids in their back garden. They’re all creating content and tagging us in. So I think it’s now a wide spectrum of, of different content. Unknown Speaker 47:15 We also like going back to the original question is like, how will the like the wider what you’re asking is how will the wider community contribute to the overall growth of the sport. And another very interesting element is one of the teams, his team called gnf, they’ve actually merged with an Esports team, I think it’s one of the biggest eSports teams in the world, called team envy. And the team has changed its name to nV gnf. Right. And I believe this is the first time that an Esports organisation has owned a property like outside of Esports, you know, they’ve, you know, and it’s sort of, it’s sort of like Westham, or the football teams own their version of Esports. But the EA, this is the first time it’s gone the other way with everyone outside. And that’s very interesting, like development, because in the future, if teams, if entities like envy, want to have an establishment with teams, then it means that the teams, that’s one stage, closer to the team’s becoming more professional, having fees to pay for their training, for pay for their travel, to do more events, and this sort of thing. So this is a really interesting development development for us. And it’d be great if one day, you could have a situation where celebrities that instead of buying that tequila brand, or that vineyard that you want to buy come in on a chase type thing. Unknown Speaker 48:44 What is the what is the commercial strategy from here? What’s the, what’s the offer, that you’re, you’re making two brands, two partners, you now have a TV product, it’s got a quite distinctive look and feel. But where do you want? What are the next steps commercially? Unknown Speaker 48:58 Yeah, for us, I mean, that’s one of the benefits about being a smaller company is that we can work very, be very flexible with brands. So we offer the traditional assets that you’d have at an event, like the on chord elements, we do have a lot because all of the obstacles can be branded, we have a border that could be branded. And then outside of that, we have usually like security barrier that there could be branded. And so our ideal way of watching it is something like your core, where you have a balcony looking down. And so that enables you to have more branding spaces on the side. Eventually, maybe we could get when the budget allows like bigger LED screens and that sort of thing. So there’s these traditional assets, as well as we have like graphics clock graphic, and then we have like scoreboard, graphic and these sort of things. And then what we can integrate on various social media which the rules on each platform, slightly change about what you can and can’t do. And then we can we can put stuff out on our website as well that we can do so. And then if they want to do more branded content or content marketing pieces, you know, we’re very close to the athletes so we can work, we have a lot of people within the community that can film like broadcast quality footage. So there are all kinds of opportunities that way as well. Unknown Speaker 50:21 Let’s talk about a couple of things just to take us to a close, be good to get from each of you. Either a benefit of starting a sport from scratch and coming into this industry and, you know, making some of the pitches that you might be making to brands and all that type of thing, or, or something that you’ve had to think about that someone creating a new event in football or cricket or something that’s recognisable, wouldn’t have to think about. Unknown Speaker 50:49 I think one thing for us, one of the challenges for us was that everyone’s familiar with tag, but no one is familiar with the format and the quad layout. And that had a lot of challenges. Because we had to sort of come up with the whole system of how do we there’s a lot of information about you know, about who’s chasing who, what the score is, how the score works, how the format works, when match pointers, and all this kind of things. And so that’s been a real challenge to try and come up with a, a sort of format that’s so easy and entertaining to watch and kind of keeps you on your toes. So we’ve come up with something a Christian, I think Christian mentioned earlier called the chase cycle, which kind of introduces each point similar to tenants, I guess we say like chase three moraira, gang evading three zero moraira gang. And so all this sort of format. Also, a lot of people quote this thing, we always say what the chase athletes ready before the chase starts. And so I think we’ve had this, it’s been a strange situation, but also quite a good situation in the fact that there was there was nothing to sort of base it off, we had to come up with this whole thing ourselves. And another strange thing from watching the sport is that people, we realise that people aren’t going to be familiar with the layout of the quad. So we had to film it. And, you know, we’ve refined it over time. But we had to film in a way where people kind of know where they are on the court. And some cuts between camera angles are very confusing, and you sort of don’t know where you are, and they kind of throw you off. And so a lot of those sort of things have been sort of challenging to kind of overcome, but I think over the over time, we’ve kind of gradually got better at just trying to just simplify it really. And that’s one thing that other sports that have been going on for a long time, they’ve had a lot of time to evolve, and kind of refine their product. That, you know, that’s been the hardest thing I think just working in this vacuum, where we can kind of do what we want. And it’s been very difficult. We’ve sort of strayed off a few times. But that’s been one of the hardest things really. Unknown Speaker 52:46 Yeah, I would say yeah, like and the same point is is a is a plus and a minus so we’re not you know, because we’re not limited like other sports if you’re doing a version of football or a version of tennis or you’re mixing two sports like a lot of new sports seem to mix one or the other. Yeah. And or mix three sports or whatever. You know, for us, we don’t have you know, we don’t have these limitations that other sports have, right and a traditional sport sure they might be more advanced because they got this like say for example, rugby x, you know, you got sevens rugby, no fives rugby, so you pretty much know what’s going on. He’s just trying to make it more and 10 but we’re not limited by any of these things, right? So we could be like we could do whatever we want. And that’s that’s a plus. The downside is when like my background is hotels, Damon’s background is music. Now neither of our backgrounds is sport. So like two guys just entering a spa you know, how do we know what to do? And it would have really helped if we were suppose we did decide, look, let’s do rugby x, right? So we got rugby sevens. How do we make Rugby Sevens better? You’ve got a definite blueprint. Okay, that’s what we do. Now let’s make it better. Like, we don’t have that. So what sports should we look at? Like the like, and we I searched high and low for like, you know, you look at I know, frisbee, like dodgeball, like drone racing, as well as things like rugby acts, like trying to pick pick pick. Nothing, nothing. I don’t see anything that I want or need or is relevant or applicable. Apart from possibly, UFC. This is the only thing where we say and why. What I find other sports do is they try and Okay, we want to be sport. So they do it like a sport. Yeah. And they have like commentator in a suit. And they asked him, How do you feel going into the final game and I think I want to thank my teammates and you know, it’s like, we’re always trying to how could we do differently? And to me, the UFC. It’s like this combination of It’s crazy. Bally a sport. It’s not entertainment. And like Damon said earlier, we’re not trying to create, there’s enough drama. In normal sport, you don’t need to create extra drama through having this guy again, start going and making false stories. We don’t need that. We don’t we don’t need it. We don’t want it. Right. So how do you do it? And to me, the UFC is 100% the sport, but they package it in a way that’s like entertainment. You know, and you can see it in the fans, you know, I’ve been to UFC danzante it’s like, they’re just head and shoulders in my mind above anyone else, you know, they’re different. So there’s only, like the Zuni, I think you could really sort of emulate them in, in philosophy, rather than in anything practical, you know. So that’s been the challenge is not having a guiding light that you can say, Okay, yeah, this is the path that we don’t we don’t like the path, there is no path you’re hacking, hacking, hacking. And eventually now we’ve reached a situation where, actually maybe, yeah, we’re slightly out of the clearing, you know, and we can see, but behind us is a clear, a much clearer path. And we’ve just, we’re lucky that we’ve arrived at that spot, you know, did we think that we would ever get home? No, not sure when I started if, thankfully, I didn’t think about it too much. Because if I had, I still be in hotels now. Unknown Speaker 56:28 But even things like the event format, I think our our event format, we use the W CT, USA 20 2020. That’s, I think the structure of things, we’ll use it the World Championships, 16 teams, there’s kind of four groups of four group stages, and it sort of goes into a knockout sort of section of it near the end. And I think even things we get right down to the format of the tournament’s and the format of the event pyramid, all of that we, it took us a long time to work out how that was going to work, and how many teams we could have and where the teams would come from, and how many people in each team and how many people can do how many chases per night and per day, all of that is this complicated web of like a matrix of different things that affect each other. And gradually, gradually, it’s sort of starting to crystallise now, you know, but a lot of the time we did like we did, for example, we didn’t really know how many chases an athlete would be able to do in one night, you know, and that makes a big, big difference for the whole structure. If athletes were half as fit as they were now if you snap your fingers and after harvest fit, it changes everything down just a small thing to get suddenly, oh, now they can do less matches, so the format’s change, or maybe do we need more people in the team and all this kind of thing. And so it’s it’s all this kind of matrix that a sport like football has had years and decades to work it all out and crystallise and, and figure it all out. That’s one thing that, that I think for a long time, it’s just this kind of nebulous kind of thing that’s gradually started to, as we’ve learned more about the core design, and just everything is all stuff starting to come together a bit now, you know. And that’s been a weird process. Because like I say, from the start, it’s just a vacuum at the beginning, there was no reference points or anything like that, you know, could have gone in a million different directions. And I think we both really happy with the direction it’s taken, you know? Unknown Speaker 58:22 Well, that’s where we’ve got to just quickly to finish up what’s what’s next. For WC, T. Unknown Speaker 58:29 We touched on before, like demons concept of like, like, as, like a sec. So action. We’ve been doing this since the beginning. And that’s improving, and we’re happy with the action and everything that the quad and the athletes deliver. Strategy is coming on, people are talking more about strategy teams are becoming more aware of strategy, it’s becoming people are referring it to like chess, you know, and the cord is the playing area. The third area that we need to really focus on, which I’m really excited about is emotion, how are we going to get that, and we are talking to a company about the possibility of at wc 85, which we’re hoping to do in the new year, subject to Corona and international travel. And this thing will be to do like a six part documentary. So we’re in discussions with them now. And that, to me is a really important development for the future because that gives the fans an opportunity to really see the emotions and understand the personalities and the characters behind the athletes that compete in order to chase down. And I think relative to other sports, I think we have some fascinating characters in chase Tiger stroke powercore that really should be explored and that I’m really excited about, Unknown Speaker 59:53 but for and from an event point of view. I think the aim for the next few years is just to really To get these event pyramids sussed out. And hopefully in 2022, we’ll be able to do our aim is to have, you know, the three continental championships that all feed into the world championships. And so hopefully over the next few years, we’ll be able to sort of have those four events a year, and maybe even some national qualifiers to feed it. Feed below that, Unknown Speaker 1:00:21 guys is it’s a fascinating story already, and it will be quite something to see what comes next. But thanks very much for your time. Unknown Speaker 1:00:28 It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for having us. Thank you very much. Unknown Speaker 1:00:31 Yeah, thanks for coming on. And best of luck with everything to get Unknown Speaker 1:00:35 Okay. Thanks so much. Cheers. The sports pro podcast is published by sports pro media.