On July 8, the Global Poker League completed its Summer Series and went on hiatus, which was quickly extended to encompass more than two months of a break. As the GPL now prepares to return for the second half of Season 1, the future of the league is in uncertain territory as changes are being implemented and new strategies are in place.
CEO Alex Dreyfus admitted that the extended hiatus was necessary to examine the GPL and make those changes, among them relocating the headquarters and studio from Malta to Las Vegas, changing the venues for the semi-finals and finals, altering the TwitchCon experience, and launching an online store for merchandising. However, Dreyfus emphasized that the plans for the GPL were long-term and many goals would not be evident for another year or so, as entrepreneurial endeavors take time.
Ready for Action?
The Las Vegas studio is currently being prepared for the upcoming action, some of which will take place in the Cube. Fans were able to get an idea of the purpose of the Cube during the Summer Series, which was launched by pitting actor Aaron Paul against GPL team manager Fabrice Soulier.
It appears that there will still be no room for much of a studio audience in Las Vegas, and it is unclear as to which games will be held live in the Cube versus online. The first games on the schedule are six-max matches, which are likely to be hosted online with the accompaniment of in-studio commentary, but the heads-up matches resume on the second day, which could be online or in the Cube.
With only days until action gets underway for the second half of the season, no information has been revealed about which matches will be broadcast online or live, which players are scheduled to play heads-up, and who all the core commentators will be for the duration of the season.
The GPL website touts the league’s return on September 20, and that has been confirmed by Dreyfus and the GPL Twitter account.
The only other news revealed in the lead-up to the second-half action was the launch of the iOS mobile app. The fan store is not yet open for business, but those who have downloaded the app note that some merchandise is listed, though not for all teams. Hats appear to cost $25, t-shirts $40, and hoodies $90. Kevin Mathers also noted that the store will be open for purchases during the Tuesday live stream.
Noting $25 isnt a bad price for a hat, $40 for the T-shirt, $90 for the hoodie though…. Available now on the GPL app— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) September 16, 2016
There are other unknowns as well, such as the offering of any new innovations besides the mobile app and, while Fedor Holz did finish up his mandatory matches, if he will be playing any more. The latter became an issue weeks ago when Holz revealed that he loaned money to Dreyfus over the summer, as did other poker pros, only to have repayment significantly delayed. “I think the story above is very questionable as a serious entrepreneur and a showing of missing integrity. I really do hope that this was a single misstep,” wrote Holz, indicating that he may have qualms about continuing on as a player in the GPL.
Other members of the GPL were virtually missing in action during the first half of the season. Berlin Bears manager Philipp Gruissem has not tweeted anything about the GPL since May 18, before the Summer Series even began. It will be interesting to see if he remains a GPL team manager or if any changes at all take place in the team lineups.
In order for the GPL to survive and thrive throughout the rest of its first season, there need to be some changes on the most basic levels. Transparency is going to be key, as is communication. Fans need to know what is going on and be energized about the GPL. Everyone from commentators to players should be touting the return of the GPL this week and remain active on social media going forward. And even though new statistics were released about the GPL action, those need to be promoted and discussed on social media to draw in the fans.
An entrepreneurial venture like the GPL can only survive if the fan base grows and dictates further seasons. On a personal level, as a fan of the game and longtime member of the poker community, I hope that the glitches can be worked out, finances put in order, and fans made a priority. I want to see the Global Poker League succeed.