So now we had a basic website, we had to start recruiting. We looked at what PC game tournaments would be hosted at the next i-series. Preferring to stick to team games as that was where we thought we could benefit our players the most, we discounted hearthstone. Our primary aim was to establish a CS:GO team as it was the game most similar to COD4 and we knew the most about.
EquixR and I played at the top of the UK COD4 scene for years and we know how fickle many eSports organisations are, they come and go very quickly. So despite having no players or history, how were we going to attract top CS:GO players? We had to rely on a professional looking website (I particularly think our video logo intro helped – which is why we put it front and centre on our homepage) and our personal profiles, such as fragmovies from back when we played.
We put out adverts on several gaming websites and soon enough the applications started flowing in. We originally put out Overwatch team adverts at the same time but it was evident very quickly we wouldn’t be able to handle the amount of applications at all so we paused our Overwatch recruitment to concentrate on CS:GO. We received and spoke to around 80 CS:GO applicants in total, it was a mammoth task to narrow them down. We held trial games to gauge ability and attitudes, which was not without it’s own difficulties. We had to setup our server for competitive matches and learn all the RCON commands we would need. It had been several years since we had last needed RCON for COD4. There were a couple of embarrassing moments when we made mistakes during trials with RCON commands, which didn’t keep the idea that we knew what we were doing. It was very important to keep things moving as slickly as possible.
The trial games were chaos, as it was a mix of players with different skills and abilities. It was immediately obvious most players would not cut it and just because someone was highly ranked, they wouldn’t get anywhere near our team. We ran into a lot of attitude problems, players who belittled others, were openly racist (the stupidity to do this amazed me when you knew you were on trial and had only known the other people for 2 minutes), and a lot who expected everything to be given to them – full LAN support etc. even though they had achieved nothing. Others tilted themselves and each other after a bad round. Finding good apples was very difficult, as was keeping the good players we found interested as they had just been through the wringer with 4 players well below their skill level in the trial game. It simply didn’t look professional.
After a couple of weeks of this, we had a couple of players we were happy with – one of which was ‘Legacy’. He was younger than we wanted ideally but he had a good attitude and high skill level. He took on the role of IGL in a couple of our trial games but didn’t feel it was the right role for him at that time, he was much better when he just had to concentrate on his own game. We saw a bit of ourselves in him from when we were starting out on the COD scene. We asked ourselves how far we could have made it if we had been given support at that age. We believed he just needed a chance to play with more mature players who could improve his teamwork and communication.
The other player we were happy with is no longer with us. Once we picked them up, their attitude completely changed to one of entitlement and no leadership. There was no enthusiasm from him to push the team and when his spot was challenged, he threw a tantrum and was removed shortly after. I really liked this player and was disappointed to see the change. It is a credit to Legacy that he fought for his place.
Legacy introduced us to a couple of his friends who were looking for a team. It turned out one had attended epicLAN with equixR several years ago. After re-introductions and a couple of trial games, it was obvious we had the basis of the EU CS:GO team.
Around the same time, we were approached by a ready made team – Good Old, who were competing in the ESEA Main League. A Swedish team who had been together for a few months and attended Dreamhack Summer 2017 BYOC tournament and placed 5-8th. After speaking with them, we felt like we could support them and their attitude to improve impressed us. They approached their games in a professional manner and when things went wrong, dissected the problem with the aim to improve. We had to be very realistic about what support we could afford to give the team, as we had been players on the end of false organisation offers before, especially for one so unproven such as ours.
The Good Old team felt they could trust us and came on board, seeing out their ESEA Main League season with us and getting some notable wins against more famous teams. This is the kind of exposure we need through publicly viewable leagues and tournaments. There is a bit of roster change currently ongoing but we believe we will be going forward and are excited for the future.
Despite i-series not supporting DOTA, we wanted a DOTA team because the competitive scene is really large with great prize money. Unusually, there are no big UK teams on the scene and we hope it is a gap we are able to fill. We contacted Doopz, who had been a scope for us in COD4 to get up to date with the scene. It turns out he is up there in UK DOTA and knows pretty much everybody at the top of the UK scene. This was great for us and after a brief chat, he let us know about an upcoming LAN in August (Manchester Showdown) and offered to put a team together for it and play under our name if we bought their tickets. This was a no-brainer for us, we want to get to as many LANs as possible and we would have a great chance at winning this one. The story of how this went will be told in another blog post.
With the EU CS:GO team and Doopz, our old contacts in the competitive gaming scene were really coming through for us. They managed to really accelerate our recruitment of top level players. Getting players in the door is one thing, keeping them is another story for a different blog post.
Having established the CS:GO and DOTA teams, our attention returned to Overwatch. In our first set of applicants was ‘Frrum’, a highly motivated Danish player with a good competitive gaming background, including competing in China and winning $14k with one team. After speaking with him for a short time, it was obvious we should pick him up and support him to form the Overwatch team. He has been hard at work for this for a month or so by now. Putting a team together from scratch is a difficult task as we found out with CS:GO and it will be interesting to see what we end up with. Picking up a ready made team was much easier and we would much prefer to do that in the future for other games. It is interesting to us that competitive Overwatch is a lot less popular than it should be considering the amount of people who play it. We hope that it will be much more supported in the future and we can get involved at the top of the scene.