Vlad Marinescu, President of IESF on why esports is a sport

Vlad Marinescu was re-elected as International Esports Federation (IESF) President in 2020 and since then is tirelessly working towards uniting the global esports community. Vlad is also United States Esports Federation President, as well as chief media and marketing officer of International Judo Federation. The Playknox spoke with him on various aspects. Excerpts: 



What challenges did the organisation have to face due to Covid and how did you overcome them?


During the Covid-19 period, it has been quite difficult to organize live events. We had to change the format of our World Championship from 2020 to 2021 and we finished the finals only at the end of 2021 as an online event. So that was our solution due to Covid. And it was so well indeed that the vestigial trade of organizing fashion has stayed with it also this year, meaning that the stage one started at the national level, stage two Continental and finally the LIVE final, which will continue for the future as well. That was the legacy of the Covid for our World Championship.  Same time the other events have gone hybrid but we’re so lucky with esports that actually activity can across barriers and borders simply from gaming.


What are the plans and vision for 2022 for IESF?


This New Year we will have the World Championship from November 20 to 27 in Bali, Indonesia. We look forward to the biggest World Championship yet. And of course, with friends from the Indonesian Olympic Committee and partners in the Indonesian Esports Federation, we will host a fantastic event with nations of the world bringing their best teams of esports to compete in Bali.


We will also aim to be recognized by GAISF. So application of GAISF is complete and we’ll continue pushing that and hopefully in the governing board in Russia, we will become a member of the Global Association of International Sports Federations.


Esports popularity has shot up in the past one and a half year due to Covid. What has been the response of everyone- especially the Gen Z?


Besides the growth, the attention by the entire sport ecosystem, NGOs around the world, Ministries of sports and governments has been focused on esports and esports has actually saved the world during this difficult time of Covid allowing the world socially engaged while maintaining distance.


While people were keeping themselves away from the rest, they were able to connect via the internet and technology with their friends and families and their social networks for playing games and having fun.  Esports has definitely contributed to the mental health of all the people around the world and the attention is now on esports. How it will develop in the future doesn’t have a relation to only Covid but also to how the International Federation of the national federations, publishers and the gamers and all the people around the world will understand and accept that esports is a sport and fulfills all the criteria for being the modern sport.






Why do you reckon more brands should partner with IESF? What’s the value they can get?


Definitely the IESF is the family of the esports. It is the world uniting body of esports bringing together now in 111 countries national federations that are managing these esports activity in their country. We are an organization that is working for good. Our target is not to bring more kids to play esports but rather to educate the gamers, to make them responsible on the fields of physical competencies, mental competencies for social competencies and nutrition. We look forward to having all the gamers be responsible gamers,  have fun to game, to be the elite level when they can be and at the same time, take care of themselves physically, mentally and socially. Having this target in mind and insight and uniting together the largest and freshest community on the earth should be the best impact for any company to come to the fold and do good because the gaming activity is not going away.


We’re speaking about a market of over 2 billion people. More than 650 million people are actively watching esports every day online. And of course we know where the viewers are from, what is their age demographic, their profile.  We are speaking about a very smart and concise direct marketing that can happen for brands. On one side is the image and helping this movement to assure the health and well being all the players. On the other side, is the direct ability to contact potential clients and customers. All in all, I believe that all brands can find the right method of being associated with esports in their direct level and for their direct purpose.


As the President , what have been your biggest challenges working at IESF and how do you overcome those challenges?


I was elected president of this organization in December 2020. The biggest target for me has been to unite the entire esports ecosystem, to professionalize the Federation, to create strong bonds between our national federations and their ministries of sport, high sporting authority, or National Olympic Committees.


I think my biggest target has been to really find a way to work in one direction for the benefit of the kids that are playing games that are partaking in esports as well as the cover force requirements for anti-doping for WADA as we are WADA signatory to ensure we are promoting clean esports and at the same time fair esports. To also ensure that we bring together global esports executive summit every year where all the stakeholders can speak. My biggest challenge has been to find a solution for this and the solution for that has been a very strong board.


I’m very lucky to have a very talented, dynamic, passionate and united board next to me in this endeavour which is to unite and grow and develop esports. Why? For recognition to sport. And besides of our board, I’m very grateful and happy to have very strong national federations. All national federations have different levels of revolution ready to share with each other, content and knowledge to help them grow each national federation All in all, I’m very grateful to have very big esports family which is passionate and working in a new direction.



How do you ensure diversity and inclusion within the organisation?


Thank you for this question. I mean a lot of different things. Of course, when we speak about diversity and inclusion, I think one number dimension is that during the world championships last year, there were 15 medals that were given. 15 medals for five game titles gold, silver and bronze and these 15 Medals were won by 15 different countries.


When we speak about diversity, having no country with two medals and every medal going to a different country Not only represents the widest diversity that I’ve ever seen in all of the World Sports, but also the fact that all countries participate, head to head and are currently developing. We speak about inclusion in the organization structure, the leadership organization. We have included and passed the new statutes last year that include vice presidents representing all the continents. And now we’re very happy to have inside of our board a Vice President in the board representing Pan America, Africa, Europe, and Asia and Oceania is still in development. So this brings a huge diversity and understanding that everyone from a different area may have a different opinion. I think that not only are we already very diverse, but it’s very important that we include in the decision making process also all diversities.


To add one more thing to this, we are also making at the moment the skeleton for an oversight committee of the board itself to include members from publishers, professional teams, professional event organizers, and national federations and professional athletes. This will bring the entire voice of ecosystem of esports together to be able to decide on the future direction, orientation and targets and tasks of the IESF.


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