SASKATOON -- A former Saskatchewan Roughrider has gone from the bright lights of Mosaic Stadium to the big screens of esports.

“I just had an affinity towards the gaming and esports sector. I’ve been involved in the sector for over 10 years,” said Konrad Wasiela, who spent three seasons in the CFL as a defensive back and is now the CEO of ESE Entertainment, a growing esports company.

“When I saw esports come on strong in the past three or four years, I just saw this very unique, one in a lifetime opportunity and I jumped on it.”

Since then, ESE Entertainment has become a growing player in the esports world, recently signing a deal to become a marketing partner of the Porsche Esports Sprint Challenge, and recently did an event with Sony and Columbia records.

“We’ve been able to land some of the biggest groups as it pertains to sponsorshi¬ps, in general just contracted the groups like Porsche and Kia Motors, we landed a sponsorship deal with Nuvie, Canada’s largest Tech IPO. So these types of tier one groups have really brought some significant attention to our story.”

The company provides platforms and infrastructure for esports events, and assists with distribution, advertising and sponsorship. It also owns its own professional esports team.

“We recently just made it to the Apex world championships. That’s a million dollar U.S. prize pool. We also compete in the game League of Legends.”

Before going all in on gaming and esports, Wasiela was on the gridiron. He was with the Roughriders in 2008, in between short stints with British Columbia and Montreal.

“It was a dream since I was a little kid to play pro sports. And my fondest memory as a pro was playing for the Roughriders. From the moment I got there, my first game ever was actually against Winnipeg, and we had the Jets flying over the stadium and the stadium is just overflowing with fans. Man, what an experience.”

Wasiela says his time with the Roughriders taught him a lot about business, particularly how important it is for an organization to be detailed and professional.

“Let’s just look at the Riders for example. You know, in my opinion they do it the right way. From a merchandise sales standpoint, from getting the community involved, allowing the community to invest in the team, selling out stadiums, they are doing it the right way at the highest level in a professional fashion.

“That’s really what I believe is missing right now in the esports side. And I really want to professionalize it.”

His company is based in Europe with an office in Warsaw, Poland along with offices in Portugal, Singapore, Vancouver and Montreal.

“We’ve got to think bigger here. Sure it’s esports and sure it’s gaming, but there is so many different things about this industry. It’s, in my opinion, the next generation of entertainment.”

Could Maximum Football hit the gridiron again?

Canadian football gamers may still have an opportunity to throw a Hail Mary from the 55-yard line.

Many were disappointed when the developer for Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football, Canuck Play, announced it was closing last month.

However, after little activity on social media, a tweet from Canuck Play indicates this might not be the end for the game.

“The process of clearing out the office after so much effort to get his far is extremely depressing. Still, there should be good news regarding the sale of Maximum Football I.P and source in a couple of weeks. I won’t be involved, but there are great things in the works,” the message says.

Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football is the only physical game release console that had a mode for Canadian football.

However, the development team was never able to secure a CFL, NCAA or USports license for players or logos.

It also offered the option to play by U.S. pro or college rules.

The game was praised for it’s customizability, allowing users to create their own logos, uniforms and players, but received some criticism for wonky gameplay and dated graphics.

Its most recent version included a football play designer, broadcast and gameplay camera angles, and a Dynasty Mode for college football fans.

Nintendo brings gaming competition to high schools

Nintendo has announced a partnership with PlayVS which will make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 officially recognized varsity athletics at participating high schools.

“As the only scholastic competitive gameplay platform that qualifies as sanctioned high school athletics in the U.S. and Canada, PlayVS is the premier provider for students in the ever-growing world of competitive gaming," Nintendo said in a news release.

"Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2 will be added to the official PlayVS lineup for the Fall 2021 High School season, allowing high school teams around the country to compete against each other in online matches when the season kicks off on Sept. 20.”

Nintendo says through partnerships with high school athletic associations, players will be able to compete in sanctioned matches of Super Smash Bros.Ultimate, Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

“Additionally, PlayVS and Nintendo will provide a Nintendo Switch system to hundreds of select qualifying schools that compete in a PlayVS Nintendo title league this 2021-2022 school year.

"Three thousand select qualifying schools will each receive either the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Splatoon 2 game and a 12-month Nintendo Switch Online individual membership.”