White Rabbit Gaming is currently sitting as South Africa’s top Dota 2 team. With multiple consecutive wins under their belt they’ve moved into a seemingly uncontested space. Not only that, but they’ve recently moved into their own gaming house as well. Orena were invited to the official launch of the WRG house last week, and we had the opportunity to catch up with WRG Managing Director, Alwyn Venter.
Lila Lerie: Where do you see WRGs position within the industry, and how do you see that growing in the near future?
Alwyn Venter: We are one of the top professional esports organizations in the country but we are looking beyond this countries boarders for competition. As an MGO one of our primary goals is to get our players overseas to compete on an international level. The second important goal is to help with the growth of the local esports industry by investing in the players themselves in order to establish that baseline of players that want to get into the competitive industry. That is where our brand is focused moving forward.
LL: What went into the gaming house?
AV: It’s been a long time coming. When we picked up Newb in 2015 we had a look at what was going on in the international scene and ‘gaming houses’ was the buzz word at that time both internationally and locally. What we decided we wanted to do was establish that type of facility for our players. Towards the middle to end of 2016 we saw the scene establish itself within South Africa and we had various discussions and started planning towards our gaming house. We began renovations around January of this year and the players moved in officially in May.
LL: What does an average day look like for the players in the WRG house?
AV: Well that depends on the time of year that you come to the house. If you come here during a time when there aren’t any tournaments running in SA, like now, you’ll find the players competing in a variety of EU tournaments. Your competitive set is overseas so we encourage our players to stick to those time zones in order to compete. So quite often we have our players playing matches until 2 to 3am in the morning.
LL: Looking back on past results, WRG managed to bring home two consecutive Master’s Cup wins. You recently had a change in the core of the Dota 2 team roster, how has that adjustment played out for the team?
AV: Yes! Wesley ‘oDu’ is currently living in the house. The transition was quite easy because the players actually identified the talent and we just brought him onboard.
LL: I think that’s quite a unique position for this team to be in. What it shows is trust and effective communication between both the players and yourself which can then translate into success.
AV: They say that those who can’t do, teach: even though we understand the game, there is no one that knows what the team needs better than the team itself and White Rabbit Gaming has been operating like that since 2015. A lot of people have been talking about ‘player-led organizations’ but the team dynamic is managed by the captain in terms of identifying talent and bringing that talent on board.
LL: How have the players adjusted to life in constant and close proximity with their team mates?
AV: That’s where the beauty of the design comes in and was a large part of the brief when we were planning this space. We are putting five people in a house where they need to train together, but there needs to be enough room for them to have their own privacy as well. So they have their communal kitchen and lounge, then they have their own rooms, two of which are sharing, and then they have the gaming room. So far it’s been a fairly smooth transition which seems to be working really well.
LL: The average age of an esports player sits in the bracket of around 18 to 25 years. What long term prospects do you have for your own players once they have moved past that point in their professional gaming careers, are their other avenues for them to grow within both the industry, and the WRG organization?
AV: The short answer to that is yes, I don’t think that any of our players are currently ready for that step in their careers but we have approached two of them. I think one of the examples I can use is Angelo from our CS:GO team. Angelo has become a key component in deciding exactly how that CS:GO team is made up, and to be honest Angelo has actually become my right hand man. Angelo has grown from being a player to being someone that I can consult with on key decisions.