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YouTube isn’t interested in organizing esports tournaments, despite internal discussion

‘All we ever focused on is empowering people to create content’

woman and man seated at computers during Fortnite Pro-Am 2016 tournament Ross Miller/Polygon

YouTube played host to the summer’s biggest esports tournament: Fortnite Friday.

The tournament collected some of the best players in the world, including Ninja and Myth, and pitted them against 50 other top players, streamers and YouTube personalities. It wasn’t an official tournament organized by Epic Games; instead, it was created by Keemstar, a prominent and controversial YouTube creator. The cash-prize tournament quickly became one of the most-watched weekly events, as players, streamers and YouTube creators jumped onto their own personal Twitch or YouTube page to broadcast the match.

Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming, told Polygon that conversations have come up internally at YouTube about possibly organizing tournaments, but it’s not something he’s interested in pursuing right now.

“A lot of people have asked this question over the years with me from the business side,” Wyatt said. “We’re a video platform first, and all we really ever focused on is empowering people to create content. We want to stay away from being the content creator. We want to enable people to do the content creation.”

Wyatt brought up a recent milestone for YouTube Gaming — ElRubius’ 100 YouTube creator Fortnite livestream, which brought in more than one million concurrent viewers. It broke records for YouTube Gaming, according to Wyatt, and is an example of what the team wants to help creators build. Getting involved with tournaments, and organizing them, would detract the team from focusing on the community.

“That was all a grassroots effort by our Spanish speaking creators,” Wyatt said. “We made sure we helped them as far as giving them some guidance and helping organize it, but they did everything. The YouTube battle royale event — they did all of it from, from start to finish and that’s what’s the beauty of it. We don’t want to be the ones that are actually creating it and facilitating it, because then I think you start competing with the people who are on your platform that are trying to find success.”

Official tournaments hosted by publishers and gaming companies will continue to exist on YouTube and Twitch, but Wyatt is convinced that YouTube won’t be orchestrating any tournaments in the near future.