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Interview with Max "Zealous" Gundlach, Head of Esport & Founder of Rizon

Interview with Max "Zealous" Gundlach, Head of Esport & Founder of Rizon
Written by: Yoann

Yoann: Hey, hello everyone! Today I’m with Zealous, Head of Esports & Founder of Rizon! How would you introduce yourself?


Zealous: Hey, thank you for having me! My name’s Max, I’m 23, I’m from Germany, and I study esports management with a few guys, we decided to found Rizon three years ago. It’s been a hell of a journey, I'm happy to be here!

Yoann: Amazing! When and how did you get into esports?


Zealous: I have always been a gamer, always competitive, it all started with Minecraft and survival games! When I was 15 I started playing Counter-Strike, and I started loving watching esports tournaments!

Yoann: What's your role as Rizon’s head of esports?


Zealous: We are four guys, I’m responsible for the teams and the players, I’m working with all the managers to have a good amount of teams in the biggest titles! I’m working with people older than me, it’s sometimes weird having to give orders to someone 7 years older! But we’re all on the same page, and esports is a passion first! 

Yoann: In which games is Rizon competing?


Zealous: We have a lot of games, the biggest one is Valorant! We also have a very high-level national Rocket League team, which I’m very proud of. We also do CS2, Rainbow 6 Siege, TFT, and Fortnite! 

Yoann: That’s great! What are the most important values in esports, as an org?


Zealous: I see a lot of orgs failing at that, for me, it’s honesty and credibility. If you can’t be honest with your players and fans, you don’t belong in something that’s so fan-driven. Look at football clubs for example, especially in Germany, they’re all about tradition, about fans. Without all these people, they wouldn’t exist. Honesty with the players, and the fans is super important, and with that comes credibility. There are a lot of organizations in Germany that lost that credibility. The scene is very small, everyone knows each other, and if you have very bad problems with attendance or toxicity, or paying players late, people will know. 

Yoann: That’s for sure! What are you currently focused on with the team?


Zealous: We are focused on developing our brand. In Germany, sponsors don’t understand a lot about esports. They don’t want to give you money to play the game, that’s why we try to develop our brand and social media, content, and maintain our position in the scene. There are a lot of orgs that went bankrupt because they made big mistakes. If we get good investments, we have the right people in the team to push in the right direction. 

Yoann: Amazing! Let’s now move to the Quick Questions part! I will ask you ten quick questions, and you’ll have to answer as fast as possible. Ready?

Zealous: Yeah!

Yoann: Phantom or Vandal?


Zealous: Phantom!

Yoann: What's your favorite map?


Zealous: Split!

Yoann: What's your favorite agent?


Zealous: Jett!

Yoann: What's your favorite skin collection?


Zealous: The dragon one, Elderflame!

Yoann: What's your best memory working in esports?


Zealous: When we finished second in Project V. We almost won against CGN, it was 13-11. It’s sad but my best memory because we almost made it!

Yoann: Can you name the eight teams that won an international event?


Zealous: No I can’t! Sentinels, Gambit, I can’t name the others!

Yoann: You also have Acend, Optic, FPX, Loud, Fnatic and EG! How often do you play Valorant?


Zealous: Not that much anymore, I used to play one or two games every day, but I don’t have enough time. 


Yoann: Is there an esports org that inspired you to create Rizon?


Zealous: BIG, Berlin International Gaming! I love them, I met Christian Lenz who’s one of my idols in esports, I met him at an event in Frankfurt!

Yoann: What kind of music do you listen to when working?


Zealous: I listen to a lot of German rap! 

Yoann: Can you quote a voice line from your favorite agent?


Zealous: No, I can’t haha!

Yoann: All good! What are your hobbies or passions aside from gaming?


Zealous: I’m a golfer, I also work at a golf course! It’s as expensive as gaming, with the PC and the price of the games! I see a lot of comparisons between golf and esports, I think it’s a great sport to play! It’s the perfect balance between sitting at a computer at home and playing outside!

Yoann: Great! What would you change to Valorant if you were a developer?


Zealous: The obvious answer would be to add a replay tool, I think it would help coaches so much, it’ll add so much to the game! I’d also add an agent ban system, imagine what esports would look like if you could ban a Jett or an Omen, it would make the game so much more diverse, you’d always have to have a backup! The game is at a point where it could work, we get so many more agents, even with Clove.

Yoann: That would be exciting for sure! What are your short and long-term ambitions with Rizon?


Zealous: Short term, we want to make our brand bigger and be unforgettable in the German scene. We have a lot of fans, especially with our Valorant team. And in the long term, I want to make this my full-time job, it’s only my hobby right now. I do it besides my studies and my work. It’s my dream to make Rizon my job! We still have a lot of work to do, and it’s not going to be easy, but we try everything we can. We’ll see what we can achieve in the next few years!

Yoann: What would you say to someone aspiring to work in esports?


Zealous: You need to bring a lot of time and passion. Some people asked me questions about that at an event, and I said that it was the hardest three years of my life. There’s a bit of luck involved too! You have to have sponsors, and contacts, in the end, it’s all about money. And it’s not that easy at all! But in the end, it’s worth it, it’s a small industry, and if you’re there for long enough, you can get good jobs out of it! In the next 5-10 years, it’s going to be a very big market in Germany. 

Esports in France is impressive to me, all the money Vitality, and Karmine Corp invest is insane! It’s nice to see from a German perspective!

Yoann: Is there anything else you would like to say?


Zealous: I hope anyone reading this learned a little bit about German esports and Rizon! The fans are the most important thing, I hope you stay healthy, and had a great time reading this! 

Yoann: Thank you so much for your time, I wish you the best in the future!


Zealous: Thank you very much!

Zealous’ socials

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