John Fazio is the CEO of Nerd Street Gamers, a national network of esports facilities and events dedicated to powering competitive opportunities for gamers.
What is Nerd Street Gamers (NSG)?
Nerd Street Gamers powers competitive opportunities for all gamers through its network of esports facilities, tournaments, and wide range of event offerings. The company has facilities (called Localhost) nationwide, and is on a mission to build the next generation of esports competitors through accessibility to high quality equipment, facilities, and competitive opportunities.
How did NSG initially get started?
Growing up playing soccer competitively, I developed many skills that would help me through my professional career like teamwork, collaboration and leadership. At the same time, my friends who were passionate gamers were spending the same amount of time practicing and perfecting their video game skills as I did playing soccer, yet they were not getting any of the same opportunities that come with traditional sports.
While I was an undergrad at Drexel University, I wrote the business plan for Nerd Street Gamers and Localhost but ultimately the concept was too ahead of the market at that time. I turned my focus on building a web software engineering firm called Jarvus where video games were built into the social culture. As our tournaments and community grew, my original business plan for Nerd Street Gamers came back to life and our Jarvus office became the first Localhost location where we continue to grow today.
What are some of the locations that offer esports events?
Nerd Street Gamers has Localhost locations in Denver and Philadelphia, with plans to open a Los Angeles facility later this year. We have also partnered with Five Below to open Localhost facilities next door to Five Below locations across the country.
What is one esports event that was memorable for you?
Definitely Dreamhack Austin. After watching online from abroad for so many years it was incredible to experience it first-hand.
How often are new locations added?
We are planning on opening several new Localhost locations this year, and up to 100 locations over the course of the next five years.
Can you describe how NSG pivoted to online events during COVID-19?
As a result of COVID, we shut down all Localhost locations in March and moved events and tournaments online – and we’ve seen success with this, including online streaming viewership numbers up more than 1,000% in April and dozens of online tournaments hitting capacity/selling out.
We also embraced unique partnership opportunities with organizations including ESPN, T1 Esports, Immortals Gaming, and more. Our partnerships have ranged from online camps with professional organizations, to powering productions for linear television, organizing tournaments, and hosting amateur qualifiers for professional invitationals. Our entire team was able to pivot and collaborate, and have become extremely flexible during our country’s uncertain times. We are extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish, and are continuing to push forward.
What can players expect from an online event?
The online event experience varies depending on the organization as well as the game. For Nerd Street Gamers events, we focus on creating a welcoming and competitive environment for gamers of all levels, and walk new competitors through the online tournament process.
Registration for events takes place using our tournament management platform. Players are sent a confirmation, and are asked to join Nerd Street Gamers Discord. Our Event Managers and Event Coordinators utilize Discord to communicate with all players participating in a tournament, and hold a Captains meeting prior to the event kicking off.
Can you describe the types of tournaments that are normally offered?
Nerd Street Gamers offers weekly tournaments for Smash, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and VALORANT. We also offer tournaments throughout the month for games including Hearthstone, Magic: the Gathering, Rocket League, Overwatch, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and more. Prize pots range from $100 per tournament up to $2,500+.
We have also partnered with professional organizations like T1 Esports for major events including the first North American VALORANT Ignition Series tournament: the T1 x Nerd Street Gamers VALORANT Showdown. The tournament boasted a $50,000 prize pool, and brought in the best FPS talent across the country including Ninja, Brax, and more. Nerd Street Gamers powered the tournament’s broadcast and logistics, and hosted two open play-in qualifiers that gave the rare opportunity for amateur players and teams to earn one of four open slots in the Invitational.
What’s next for NSG?
Nerd Street Gamers will continue on our mission to bring esports to everyone. We are doing this through our network of facilities, online events and camps, content creation, strategic partnerships, and much more on the horizon.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Nerd Street Gamers.