Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: Former CFL pro Konrad Wasiela tackles esports career

CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice podcast chats with Konrad Wasiela, CFL cornerback who has transitioned to running esports business.

Pro footballer sees bigger future in electronic gaming than IRL

Studio portrait of Konrad Wasiela, 2023
CFL cornerback Konrad Wasiela has transitioned from the gridiron to the esports world. (photo credit: ESE entertainment, 2023.)

Like the game titles themselves, esports athletes can generate shocking income and audiences. At the highest level, it's gaming in name only. Everything else about the pursuit of esports mastery is a hard-nosed, serious business.

Elite esports players' training regimens certainly rival those of "real world" athletes. Strength and balance work, hand-eye conditioning,  nutritionists, psych coaches, esports stars make use of all the above. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that pro athletes are pro athletes, whether the rectangles they compete in are made of grass or glass.

Konrad Wasiela is uniquely suited to comment on the busy intersection of traditional and e-athletes. 

Formerly a CFL cornerback, Wasiela's "come to esports" moment was a visit to a live gaming event. He walked into a soldout stadium, and saw 60,000 people cheering. Amazon had just paid a billion bucks for "Twitch," the game streaming service. Wasiela added up the mega millions that Intel had poured into this tournament, and took note of Puma and Nike sponsorships in the space. 

He quickly resolved to launch his own company to get in on the action. ESE Entertainment does several things in the esports space, but it's mostly about pushing new players and audiences to egames.

Anastasia Bucsis, host of POV podcast, probes Wasiela on the many ways esports are played and promoted by real world athletes, but Wasiela flips that question: his interest lies in the ways traditional sports are starting to depend on their virtual counterparts. 

Simulators from esports are already used heavily by every F1 driver and team. As more coaches and more sports make the jump into using applications from esports in the locker room, game film might be going the way of the horse and buggy. And that's just one way esports are changing the game in real life.

Esports are already spinning colossal sums of money. The consensus seems to be they have only just begun.   

There are transcripts of our podcasts for a hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Konrad Wasiela, Waneek Horn-Miller, Camryn Rogers, Bev Priestman, Allison Forsyth, Jason Priestley, Mimi Rahneva, Cito Gaston, Robert Parish, Aaron Brown, Kaylyn Kyle, Kurt Browning, Bianca Farella, Summer McIntosh, Beckie Sauerbrunn or any of the guests from earlier seasons, go to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?