|First things first, Andrew! Why are Na'Vi planning to open a gaming house in the US?
We travelled to Seattle, Washington with our DotA 2 team in September 2012 for The International 2 and were really amazed by how many fans we have in the US. People were literally travelling across the country to meet and greet their favourite players and the whole audience went wild during Na`Vi matches in the Benaroya Hall. That was really epic! Considering how fast eSports is developing in the US, going overseas would be just a matter of time for Natus Vincere.
Why do you think you have such a large fan base in the US?
We would like to believe this is because of the outstanding skill level of our teams and players, as well as our record of tournament victories. Other than that, all of our players are really bright and versatile personalities, both in e-Sports and real life.
Whereabouts in the US have you been looking? Are there any particular states or cities that have taken your interest?
Right now we are thinking of the US West, somewhere like Los Angeles or San Francisco. We believe that this region is exceptionally healthy for progaming, as it has a good transport hub to attend all the events in the country and its climate is just so good! Our concept of a gaming house includes not only bedrooms and gaming zones for players, but also recreational areas such as a pool, gym, sun’n’surf volleyball and so on. We firmly believe that outdoor sports are a very important aspect of professional gaming and that’s why we would like to provide such opportunities for our players. Moreover, we will be able to produce decent video and live-streaming content from our US gaming house, showing the way of life of our players.
|When are you planning to move, and which of your players are likely to be staying in the house?
Right now it is too early to discuss dates, but this is something we plan for 2013. Our initial idea was to bring one of our teams to the US for a certain period of time (approximately 3-4 months), then to bring another team for the same period, and so on. This will allow us to have a rotation of gaming squads between our European and US gaming houses, which would boost our presence and influence in both regions. Of course, we will have to adjust to the schedule of tournaments and leagues, so this plan may be subjected to certain changes.
Will you continue to compete in European events, or does this move represent a shifting focus toward the US?
Just as before, our teams will attend all major LAN tournaments all over the world, no matter where the players are located geographically. We may skip some tournaments depending on where our team resides at that time, but nothing will change drastically.
In addition to the house, will you be looking to pick up any American teams or players, or are you sticking with your European image?
Yes, we are seriously considering this opportunity. Last Autumn we came very close to signing an entirely American League of Legends team, but had to cancel the offer at the very last minute. Right now we are still considering either a SC2 or League of Legends squad, and we do not have any geographical prejudices.
The European Counter-Strike scene, in particular, is commonly considered to be of a higher calibre than the North American scene. Have you considered how a long-term move to “less competitive” waters might affect the ability of your players to compete internationally?
e-Sports is gaining momentum all over the world, and particularly in the US. This means more professional leagues, more tournaments, more championships, more players and more teams. The skill level has also risen as a result, which is why we do not consider the North American scene to be “less competitive”. We also hope that our presence in the US would improve the overall skill level of domestic teams and will bring new talent to the scene. Please also note that we are not going to miss ANY major tournaments around the world, so are not concerned about the issue you mentioned.
|Having a permanent base on another continent is relatively rare for eSport organisations. To what extent does this announcement cement you as one of the world’s premier teams?
Well I might argue that point, because some teams have team houses in Korea or, for example, Evil Geniuses’ DotA 2 team used to bootcamp in Europe. Getting a gaming house in the USA is not an easy deal and it will take a lot of efforts and resources from our end. However we are really interested in the American region and will do whatever is required to cement ourselves as one of the world’s premier e-Sports clubs.
Are there any issues you can envision in bringing players to the US? Whether it’s simple things like friends and family, to more complex issues like American visas, what are your biggest obstacles going to be?
We need more minerals! Other than that, I can’t see any issues. Professional players are used to trips that can sometimes take several months, so this experience won’t be that new to them. This is also why we don’t have any problems with visas, as most of our players already have an American visa.
Na`Vi was founded in 2010, and is now planning to open an international gaming house just three years later. Take a shot in the dark! What will the Na`Vi organisation look like in the year 2020? Where do you see the team in seven years’ time?
That is a good question! But you know, the internet, electronics and e-Sports industries are changing so quickly that even just a few years ago we would never have been able to predict what the industry would look like today.
So let’s focus on the near future instead, in which we see ourselves getting at least two top tier gaming squads in the most popular titles (for now it is definitely League of Legends and/or StarCraft 2), as well as an established gaming house in the US. If things go well, we may expand to Asia too, but that’s just me dreaming now, so let’s get back to reality and build the bricks in our castle one by one.