In an exclusive interview with Focus Gaming News, Maria Mashchenko, general manager of BETER Sports, and Nikolay Vernydub, head of operations, shed light on the tournament’s evolution and the challenges they faced during its development.
How would you assess the progress and achievements of the Setka Cup table tennis tournaments now that it’s been five years since they launched?
Maria Mashchenko: The Setka Cup team has made incredible progress over the past five years, gaining tremendous experience as they have continued to improve the product and experience offered to players. Each member of the team shares the same values that we put into the Setka Cup from day one, those of fair play and professionalism when setting up and running tournaments and bringing together the best players from around the world. This is underpinned by an absolute commitment to integrity.
Setka Cup tournaments started out with one arena in Kyiv but today are held in three countries – Ukraine, Moldova and the Czech Republic and across 12 arenas. This allows us to run more than 9,000 matches per month which rack up views in excess of 22 million. All those matches are provided with 24/7 live streaming, data and odds feed.
To achieve such high numbers, our team of organisers, umpires, administrators and video engineers must work as one and it is this team unity that has seen the Setka Cup become popular with tennis table fans from around the world looking to watch and bet on their favourite sport.
Last year, we took this experience to the next level with the launch of our iFrame solution which offers players a one-of-a-kind UX/UI similar to that offered by Twitch. It allows them to place bets while enjoying the excitement of the game – they can also switch between two interface styles, traditional and modern.
“Setka Cup tournaments started out with one arena in Kyiv but today are held in three countries – Ukraine, Moldova and the Czech Republic and across 12 arenas.”Maria Mashchenko, BETER Sports general manager.
What were some of the challenges you faced while developing the Setka Cup and how did you overcome them?
Nikolay Vernydub: In the early days of running the Setka Cup, we had a very basic understanding of what was actually needed to bring the product to market. Over the years, we have come to better understand the process and the product, and this has introduced new features, processes, functionalities and so on.
At the same time, the team has continued to grow so it was important to be able to clearly define these processes and ensure they are allocated to the correct teams and people – this is the only way to ensure everything is working as it should. Once we cracked that part of the puzzle, we had the foundation in place to overcome other challenges, such as competition with other tournaments which ultimately proved that the approach we had taken was the right one as we were able to come out on top.
We see learning and developing as part of the process we must go through to keep improving the Setka Cup tournaments. We are always analysing all processes to identify efficiencies and address them as quickly as possible. That we do this consistently is what has made the Setka Cup become one of the best commercial table tennis tournaments in the world.
How do you maintain such high integrity standards within your tournaments?
Nikolay Vernydub: Integrity has always been the foundation of the Setka Cup and the principles of fair play are a clear indicator as to the quality of any professional sports and/or tournament. We have achieved this through our in-house Integrity Department, which works closely with Setka Cup organisers. Combined, they have years of experience and access to powerful tools that ensure all BETER tournaments meet strict fair play standards.
How do you interact with your community of sportspeople? Who is included in it?
Maria Mashchenko: We work with more than 1,100 professional sportspeople that partake in the Setka Cup tournaments. We use the term «sportspeople» to ensure that everyone connected with our tournaments is on the same level and to ensure that are equally valued regardless of the role they play. This includes players, umpires, administrators and managers, all of whom are in constant communication with us and are always on hand.
We’ve also gone to great lengths to ensure our sportspeople are given the right environment in which to operate to their full ability. This includes using professionally designed arenas, the best equipment and comfortable recreational areas. It’s important that tournament participants have everything they need to perform at their best.
Can you share with us your plans for the future development of the Setka Cup?
Maria Mashchenko: We are constantly improving the Setka Cup by increasing the number of events, adding new countries and partnering with their table tennis federations. We are also focused on content development and taking the production value to the next level.
BETER Sports now offers national table tennis tournaments from independent organisers from around the world. We have really grown our reach recently by entering new countries such as Colombia and India where we now offer live streaming, data and odds for the national table tennis championships. Of course, we are always on the lookout for entertaining competitions to serve up to our partners and their players.
How do you see the Setka Cup evolving over the next few years?
Nikolay Vernydub: We will continue to improve the quality of the tournaments we run under the Setka Cup brand. This includes more balanced player levels, enhanced stream quality and choosing the best time slots for matches to ensure the greatest audience engagement – it’s important to run matches when there are fewer distractions generated by global events. We are also looking to enhance our table tennis offering outside of the Setka Cup by partnering with national federations just like we have done in Colombia.
“We will continue to improve the quality of the tournaments we run under the Setka Cup brand.”Nikolay Vernydub, BETER Sports head of operations.
How would you evaluate your performance in the first half of the year, and what are your strategic plans and objectives for the remainder of 2023?
Nikolay Vernydub: We’ve done incredibly well and have struck the right balance between the number of events, parallel matches and time periods and this has enabled us to maintain a very high level of participation for each tournament. This is key to generating the best possible result for us and our partners.
Of course, it is strategically important for us to maintain the highest level of quality in the Seta Cup tournaments, and this requires excellence each and every day from the various departments and teams that make it happen, as well as our sportspeople. In terms of what’s to come, we will continue to strive for the best while expanding into new markets.
Can you tell us more about your participation in the upcoming SiGMA Asia event and what you hope to achieve there?
Maria Mashchenko: Asia is an important region for BETER Sports and attending SiGMA Asia provides the perfect opportunity to meet with operators and other stakeholders. It will help to drive awareness of our product range, including Setka Cup, basketball league BSKT CUP and ping-pong tournament “Ping Pong Point”, which allow us to demonstrate the engaging, entertaining experience they provide to delegates that stop by our stand. If you are attending, make sure to pay us a visit.
The interview was originally published at Focus Gaming News.