NaVi CEO: “Investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still”

NaVi CEO: “Investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still”

The man behind the Ukrainian NaVi, Yevgeny “HarisPilton” Zolotarev, talked in-depth about running an esports team, expanding into international waters, creating a winning team and remaining profitable in highly competitive esports scene.

Natus Vincere CEO also talked about the appointment of Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy to the role of esports director, the opening of the academy team, recent struggles of their Dota 2 team and much more.

Recently Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy joined for the role of esports director. How did this idea come to be?

Similar thoughts started long ago. We are quite familiar with Andrey, we even played on the same team, but somehow all this time we went parallel to each other. Nevertheless, we constantly communicated, shared opinions about CS and everything else.

I have always considered him an intelligent specialist, he has a good eye for young talents, a lot of experience on the professional stage: a player, a captain, a coach. His main advantage, unlike the other 90 percent of former esports athletes, that he has a high focus on the business component, he understands the development of the club as a business. I think he is very suitable for this role.

Previously, Na’Vi did not have such a position?

Not for the last 2.5 years, but even earlier I myself was in this position when Alexander “ZeroGravity” Kokhanovsky appointed me in 2016. I worked there for six months and then took the position of CEO, combining it with the esports director, and ZeroGravity went into inactivity.

The position can be called new, but it is necessary for large clubs. Team Liquid, for example, have several general managers at once, who have distributed disciplines and regions among themselves. Na’Vi, like any other multigaming, requires personnel enhancement as well.

He will only deal with Counter-Strike?

No, by all teams, it will include Dota 2. An esports director is a person who is responsible for all the compositions of an organization. Transfer policy, tournament schedule, bootcamp schedule and more.

I took Andrey as an experienced specialist to build a vertical search, training and education of players. As a general director, I still have operational work, finance, media and marketing, the rest went to B1ad3.

With his signing, you will also open a youth academy?

Yes, in the near future it will really appear. By this time, the market had matured, and our organization had matured, human and financial resources appeared to implement these plans. All other details will appear very soon in the official announcement.

I can only say that there will be many opportunities for young players. I really want to realize our accumulated experience in working with young people.

So talking about your Dota 2 team. One cannot help but wonder when you have a team as well supported as yours, where are the results?

The conditions are really good, but if the players did not work at the same time or if we had questions about their discipline, then we can say that the organization slacks off or something else. Speaking specifically about the composition of Dota 2 — the team has no disciplinary problems at all, the guys worked and continue to work with maximum commitment, even after defeats.

I cannot say that we are pleased with the results, but we see their return, they live on DotA and there are no problems inside the team. There are only game moments that we are trying to fix.

Nevertheless, there are positive things — some players six months ago were considered to be unknown to anyone, and during this time they were seriously tightened up from the point of view of the skill, the pool of heroes, the LAN experience and so on. I try to look for a positive in everything and we will continue to work for it.

Do you participate in the life of the team? Can you suggest something or express displeasure?

There is a manager, coach, captain and even an analyst who works with players remotely. For the last bootcamps, we have attracted such a person as a mental coach, with whom we plan to continue cooperation.

I am not competent enough in DotA to prompt guys. First of all, I appreciate the game as a fan, I can be dissatisfied, angry about why they made a pick for that hero and not for another, to draw conclusions based on the words of commentators or analysts. With my game level, I do not allow myself any in-game recommendations.

Na’Vi was among the first to announce the opening of a division in Apex Legends. Right now you already announced the signing of two Quake world champions — Cypher and clawz. What went into this decision?

There’re a lot of unknown moments, the game itself faces certain difficulties.

Regarding the region: in the case of Apex — this is still two players from the CIS. When we choose the composition, the criterion of the region is not in the first place. We are after the players that we want, everything else is secondary.

We will take players and look at what the publisher will do, how much their efforts will be directed to the development of the esports component of the discipline. In PUBG we are now seeing a big recession, for instance.

Are you disappointed in PUBG?

It is too early to talk about our position, but we have serious concerns. The start of a Major league cannot be called successful. As an average person, I don’t see sponsors, I don’t see any views, and at the same time I see high costs associated with moving the team to Berlin.

The failure in the results of the team are related to this?

To a lesser extent, the season has just begun, the first phase has ended. The results are unsuccessful, but there is time to correct them. The concerns are tied to the discipline itself.

After a very long break, you recently signed foreign players. What led to that decision?

Fortnite is definitely a western game, not popular in the CIS region. Rainbow Six Siege — we wanted both a competitive line-up and the team that has a slot in the ESL Pro League. In the CIS, there is no choice in this regard, there is only one team — Team Empire, which recently signed the guys and did not intend to sell.

And getting more foreign fans while at it?

Of course, we perfectly understand that it is necessary to improve monetization. Unfortunately, this is hard to do in the CIS region.

We do not intend to leave the CIS esports, here are our roots. We, like any other major multigaming, are just trying to increase our presence in other regions. For example, in Team Liquid, FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas, the compositions for Rainbow Six Siege are Brazilians.

Recently we could see stagnation in tier 2 esports — fewer sponsors, less audience interest, fewer fans. Do you think it may have a negative impact on esports?

In order for sponsors to pay good money, you need to show good numbers: reach, audience, views or results.

Sponsors calculate ROI (return on investment) — clicks, transitions and everything else, the more videos you watch, comment, etc. the better you’re off.

NaVi right now has no such problem. From the point of view of the business model, Natus Vincere can be called an independent asset, and it can sustain itself right now, but one way or another, investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still.

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Suprema_Ettorito: “I want to become back to back world champion”

Suprema_Ettorito: “I want to become back to back world champion”

Ettore “Suprema_Ettorito” Giannuzzi defeated his Brazilian opponent Alemao_pesbr in the Final Match of WESG Grand Finals with a 2-0 score, claiming another world champion title for the Italian player.

As the winner of the tournament, Suprema_Ettorito received an award of $30,000 US dollars. Alemao_pesbr, who took the second place, won a hefty prize of $15,000 dollars.

This match was hosted at the Olympic Stadium in front of live audience of a few thousand Chinese esports fans. The event marked a second significant victory in a row for Suprema, following his first place finish in Pro Evolution Soccer world championship last summer.

After his return from China, the player talked about the event in an interview.

Another great event for you, another world champion title. How does it feel?

I’m so happy for this tournament. The tournament started very bad for me at the beginning. I lost one game and draw one, so I went to my hotel with only 4 points. After that, I changed my formation, I changed team with Liverpool and Barcelona because before I played with Arsenal.

Thanks to that I won all the games, I draw only one game in the group, and after that, I won the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final 2-0 in BO3. So I’m so happy! I was confident for this game and now I’m a champion.

Why didn’t you play with Barcelona from the very beginning?

Because I think Liverpool have faster players like Origi, Salah, Mané, Messi, Suarez, they are technical. So I think, for second game, you can use and choose Barcelona only for this, not for other reasons.

Who was the toughest opponent in this tournament?

I think it is Sofia.

How will you spend your money? It is really a huge amount of money.

I don’t know. Maybe I will go for some holidays, buy a new car, or do some gifts for my family and girlfriend. I don’t know at the moment.

The first phase of the event took place in a hotel and the finals were at the stadium. Is there any difference between the two in how you felt?

I think that from the hotel there will be a difference in the game. From the stadium, with the stream on the monitor, there will be a delay and it will be slower than it was in the hotel. But the emotion, of course, is different. On the stadium, you have more tension, and in the hotel, you are relaxed.

What is your next goal?

I will participate in the world final of Pro Evolution Soccer in June to become world champion back to back. I will try and we will see.

Do you have any words for your fans?

Hello, guys. I think you will challenge me in Pro Evolution Soccer. See you!

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Johnta: “Playing fast-paced games develops the brain very well”

Johnta: “Playing fast-paced games develops the brain very well”

With the popularity of Apex Legends booming and more esports tournaments being announced for it, professional CS:GO coach Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov shared his thoughts about the competitiveness of the game.

Best known for his time with the HellRaisers, the coach recently made a move to new waters and joined TyLoo. The Chinese team successfully qualified for the IEM Katowice Major 2019 through the Asian Minor but had mixed results there.

In their opening matches in Poland the team behind Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov overwhelmed Team Vitality and Cloud 9 earning themselves a head start with two early wins. Following that, the inexperience of the Chinese players came into play and the team suffered three losses straight, against NRG, AVANGAR and G2 esports.

Moving past the results of the last Major, Ivan “Johnta” Shevtsov talked about the “new kid on the block” and it’s future in the esports scene.

I couldn’t help but notice you playing Apex Legends a lot lately. Does it help you get away from the coach’s daily routine?

Yes, I would say that helps. It’s always good to be distracted, especially if you play with your buddies and get positive emotions from communication and playing together.

Also, games with high speed and dynamics generally develop the brain very well, because you learn to make quick decisions based on a bunch of various small factors. This is always useful, so the game like Apex for me is a combination of the useful and the pleasant.

Why did you decide to try Apex Legends? Have you played any other Battle Royale games like PUBG?

I played a lot of PUBG, so I am familiar with BR games. I like this format. But in PUBG it was boring, I wanted to break into some kind of fight all the time. Everything seemed to be a bit slow, even though the game was like made that way. Plus, I always loved to play Quake 3 because of its dynamics, physics, and speed.

Apex combines what I liked in both of the above games. The advantage is in an excellent loot system, cool dynamics, and convenient gameplay. You can play quietly in a team without a microphone too.

What do you think developers need to do in order not only to keep the audience but to develop the desire to continue playing? Or will it be a one-day game?

I think that it is necessary to hold regular events attracting attention. Quickly fix problems, and add new content (legends, locations, weapons, skills). It is also important to think up a good system for observers, so that it would be interesting to watch the events.

In Apex, the team consists of 3 players. Why do you think the developers decided to make it three-man teams because in other franchises the number is usually four?

Three is perfect, you don’t need more. Playing against three you always have to do your best, because the duel against three is very hard to win. Given the mobility in this game, it is important to move correctly. When playing 4 players, teams would often share two players and then positioning would have been completely different.

Some say that Fortnite is much more skill based than PUBG. What do you think it is connected to? Where does Apex Legends fit?

I didn’t follow Fortnite at all, I can’t compare it with anything. In Apex, the skill is of course important, if you move efficiently and shoot well — you will have a huge advantage. I think the skill ceiling is very high here, especially in team interactions and combinations between legends.

Can you highlight for yourself some unique aspects of the game you like? For example, many liked the respawn system.

Yes, the respawn system is very cool. Now they can not so easily ruin the game to one player from the team, as it often happened in PUBG. I like the fact that legends have different skills and there aren’t many of them. You can come up with funny combinations and choose play style depending on the weapon and armor that the team has. Also very cool is that it does not require a very powerful PC.

Many esports organizations have announced the recruitment of the next Apex Legend. Do you think there is a cybersport future? What do developers need to do, what is missing for the game?

If the developer comes up with a good event system, it will be interesting to watch it. After all, the game is very entertaining and easy to start playing. And if a lot of people play, then there are a lot of potential viewers. In this case, esports organizations and sponsors will be interested in maintaining this discipline and teams in it.

Have you thought about changing the game? In the case of interest and prospects arising in another?

Thoughts to become a player of course visited, but it is too early to think about it. (laughs)

You’ve been doing some great analytical CS:GO streams in the past. Any plans to bring that to Apex?

Working as a coach in CS: GO takes a lot of time but if you come and watch me stream — I’ll be happy to stream my shenanigans in Apex!

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Xron: “The one who puts in the most work is the winner”

Xron: “The one who puts in the most work is the winner”

With the future of Quake Champions esports in question, many of the pro players are looking for the answer elsewhere. Dmytro “Xron” Sakharuk is enjoying Apex Legends for now, but is there more to it?

Although it found a strong core audience, Quake Champions has been struggling to break through into the gaming mainstream since before its release. Nonetheless, there was always a strong, developer-backed esports scene behind it.

Recently, however, with the dropping viewership numbers as well as issues within the game the future of the scene came into question. Even more so, after the unexpected hit release of Respawn’s Apex Legends. Most Quake professional players have been openly playing (and enjoying) the new battle royale.

Dmytro “Xron” Sakharuk himself thinks it’s a fun game and he’s going to be playing more of it. But what about the future?

Many Quakers are indulging in Apex Legends right now. How serious and promising is the game?

It is hard to say. In battle royale games, as a rule, all the money goes to popular streamers and tournaments are made for them, not for players. It’s too early to talk about tournaments at all. This is just a fun game.

You played PUBG, Fortnite and now Apex. What do you like (dislike) in each and which one is better?

I played everything but PUBG and Fortnite only for a couple of days or weeks. In PUBG I do not like the mechanics and the slow game. In Fortnite I ran a little with Cypher, I liked it, a very cool and skill based game, but in order to play at a normal level, you need to give it at least 10 hours a day, I am not ready to go for it. Apex — very easy to understand, a lot of action, very fun to play with friends. It is always interesting to chop into something new. I don’t want to compare these games, each is good in its own way, but I personally don’t like only PUBG.

What qualities should a popular shooter have today? Does it have to be a battle royale?

Everyone has their own views on this. I personally like quick games with team interaction. Team play is generally the main thing. Running with friends is fun after all. I am very pleased that Apex has achieved such popularity without a solo mode. I do not think that the popularity of the game requires the format of the royale games. Counter-Strike proves it.

You communicate with many top players in Quake Champions. What is the mood now in the pro scene regarding the future of Quake?

In general, everyone is just waiting for announcements or at least something, nothing more we can do.

How are you going to prepare for the OGA Quake PIT #2 Duel event?

I will play a couple of days in Free For All or in 2x2 with friends, I can pick up a stream and play a ranked duel.

Do you expect the overall skill level to drop there due to Apex and other games?

I think the results will be unpredictable. Most likely the favorites are Vengeur,Raisy,Toxjq. They are the most active players in Quake today, but as in any game, the one who puts in the most work is the winner.

Is the format of the OGA Quake PIT tournament and the composition of participants good (after all, there is no Clawz, Agent or Base)?

Clawz was invited, but he refused, I don’t know about the others. I’m just glad that there will be at least some tournament for Quake and its format is not important.

Where does your love for cats come from? Do you have cats?

I just like cats. And yes, I live with a cat.

By the way, how did you come up with your nickname? Does it bother you that casters mispronounce it all the time?

I just liked the word, I never thought that they would pronounce it in English. I’m not going to change it. It’s normal that most people don’t pronounce this word correctly. If we recall 2017 and LANs, then the people working at the time as commentators / interviewers constantly approached me and asked how to pronounce correctly. They tried to do this even after I told them that I absolutely did not care.

What holidays do you like the most? Do you support the European traditions associated with Valentine’s Day?

No favorite holidays. I spent Valentine’s Day with my beloved Jack Daniels.

Which of the current Apex characters do you like more? Is there a need for new heroes?

I like Lifeline. I would like to see new characters with time, I am always for any new content and innovations. It’s hard to say how the character pool should look like if you suddenly add ranked games, then it may be worthwhile to balance everything, but for now let it be just a fun and a cool game which it is.

 

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Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.

We looked into why Apex is better than other representatives of the genre — both as a game and as a potential esports discipline.

In almost everything, Apex Legends is reminiscent of the Battle Royale mode of the last Call of Duty. A small map, arcade shooting, nice graphics and a thoughtful interface that is suitable for both PC and consoles. The inventory system is almost one to one, except that the cartridges occupy separate slots.

Now for the differences. Blackout’s portable temporary perks have been replaced by characters’ permanent abilities. Each character has passive, active and ultimate skills. This rather changes every battle and the game as a whole: some will help with a shield or shelling in battle, while others will climb the cliff or find the enemy faster. However, there are no imbalances, and it pleases us.

Unlike most other Battle Royale games, there are no vehicles in Apex. The size of the map is chosen so that everyone can get to the safe zone easily too — the location is designed for 60 people, and not for the usual 80-100 players. The characters move quickly, especially with the help of some ultimate abilities, and you can even cut with the slide’s double acceleration. And who needs useless Blackout helicopters when there are ziplines, both horizontal and vertical.

The new BR game is ideal for those who are bored of PUBG but do not want to go to Fortnite yet. Apex Legends is something between these two giants of the genre. There is no need to search for loot and opponents for a long time, but it is not necessary to compete in the speed of construction either. At the same time just shooting well here, unlike in Blackout, is not enough.

If the Battle Royale in CoD is nevertheless closer to PUBG, where reaction, accuracy and a little luck decides everything, then Apex Legends is clearly trying to offer more: like Fortnite, but within reasonable limits. The abilities of the characters give a wide choice of actions and act as an alternative to all sorts of additions by Epic Games, and the construction system is easily replaced by multi-level locations with thoughtful landscapes and the ability to climb almost any wall. All in all, not only does it speed up the gameplay, but also allows you to quickly change the course of any battle.

Apex Legends has great optimization. Even on somewhat outdated systems, the game will work and give an honest 30 FPS. At the same time, the graphics at low settings will not severely damage your experience, and serious delays will appear only in lively combat operations. A dated station with Intel i5-2500 and NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti does an excellent job with average graphics without a drawdown below 60 FPS. 

In my first five hours of play, I only had connection problems twice, and one of them was connected with the Origin side (and not with Apex Legends servers), and the second simply did not allow the match to start and decided to go out to the lobby.

No desynchronization of opponents’ movements, no missed shots or teammates with a huge ping. At the same time, there were some glitches along the way — on the game forums, there are enough complaints about crashes. So far this can be forgiven: the developers certainly did not expect such an influx of users, and there is still time for operational patches — not even a week has passed since the release.

In Apex Legends it is very easy to negotiate with unfamiliar teammates. At the moment, this Battle Royale can only be played by teams of three people. If you start the match alone — Apex will surely find you mates, and you will have to communicate with them.

Respawn has made sure that the game is not interfered by the language barrier or the absence of a microphone: you can transfer any necessary information using the wheel of instructions. All teams are tied to marks on the map from the first person. To offer a further way to the location, highlight the position of the enemy, or even talk about excess body armor, just click on the mouse wheel. In the same way, you can indicate where the opponents have just been or what position is worth watching — any proposal of teammates can be accepted or rejected by the same pressure on the wheel.

Of course, it’s impossible to quickly discuss the exact landing place before disembarking, therefore in Apex Legends the whole team falls from the plane with a single jump. The direction is chosen by a randomly determined jumpmaster. And although teammates can disconnect at any time and go to the place they liked, it seems that the developers see Apex Legends as a team game … or a discipline.

Apex Legends can be the best esports battle royale game. Neither EA nor Respawn have yet talked about the competitive component of the game — companies did not even announce it, fearing to create a negative attitude to the project before the release. It is possible that in a month matchmaking will appear in Apex, and in another month — a full-fledged competitive system.

Unlike other representatives of the genre, in Apex Legends everything initially works on team interaction. It is convenient to communicate in the game, you can experiment with meta when choosing characters and resurrect allies. If during the battle the player does not have time to save, teammates will be able to collect his flag to one of the stations and bring their partner back to life. These little things already give a minimal basis for a more spectacular esports experience.

In addition, Apex Legends may be more attractive to the viewer. Matches usually last up to twenty minutes, and the dynamic gameplay does not get bored in the early stages. If in PUBG there is really nothing to look at until the third or fourth zone, then in Apex Legends, where the map is much smaller, the battles can begin after only a few minutes. The only problem is the observation of individual players — there are still a lot of them on the map, but Apex has fewer participants in the units, and this can be useful for broadcasting.

Respawn and EA unexpectedly released a really good game. The battle royale boom has already exhausted everyone, but the release of Apex Legends was a great success — Titanfall fans didn’t even complain too much that the studio did not release the third part of the series.

The developers managed to make a comfortable and unusual BR with cool mechanics. In the store with paid currency, you can purchase both additional chests with skins, as well as certain skins that were in the temporary rotation. Prices are almost two times higher than in Fortnite. All the rest is given only for Legends Point and Crafting Metals — the first is credited for success in the game, and the second is compensated for repetitive skins.

Apex Legends has gathered a huge audience for the release and has every chance to overshadow even Fortnite, at least for a while.

If Respawn Entertainment takes up the game and keeps it up to date with updates no worse than Epic Games, the new battle royale will break all records. Otherwise, Apex Legends will soon be forgotten, as happened with Blackout.

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Gaming industry now raking up $110 billion a year in profits

Gaming industry now raking up $110 billion a year in profits

The profit of the gaming industry increased compared to last year and amounted to $109.8 billion — a whopping 11% increase from 2017.

The audience for gaming video content grew by 10% — 850 million viewers for 2018. Analytical agency SuperData published the final report on the gaming industry for 2018.

80% of the profits came from free games — SuperData linked this to the popularity of Fortnite, which brought Epic Games $2.4 billion and topped the rating of free-to-play projects. According to the agency, the success of the battle royale showed the effectiveness of a simplified version of combat passes and limited in-game items sales. Service representatives also noted that $54.3 billion out of $87.7 billion in free games came from Asia.

9-year-old League of Legends still earned more than $1.4 billion this year, even ahead of Tencent’s mega-hit Honour of Kings, which earned $1.3 billion.

The market for paid games grew by 10% and brought $17.8 billion in profit in 2018. Despite the high competition in the genre, PUBG Corp. earned over a billion dollars — 19% more than in 2017. The only project of the studio topped the rating of paid games and bypassed FIFA 18 and 19, GTA V, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2.

Gaming video content brought the main platforms more than $5 billion last year. Of these, 31% earned Twitch — bypassing YouTube in profits but losing by the number of unique users for the year (183 million against 594 million). Together Twitch and Youtube earned 55% of all streaming revenue for the year.

The most popular streamer channel in the world was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — a popular Fortnite streamer. The top ten most viewed channels included those dedicated to esports as well, like Riot Games, Overwatch League and ELEAGUE.

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