After their win over E8Win, ESC Ever is in final of the play-offs against MVP for the spot in LCK. In order to complete our interviews with the team Ever (Key's interview, their support), we have been able to ask some questions to their manager and their CEO.
The players are focused on the game while their coach is checking Twitter
[M Zedd] You are the manager of the team, so what is your role exactly, what is your involvment in the structure generally speaking ? And how did you get there ?
Manager : eSport is a new market and it is gonna be bigger and bigger, that's why we [me & the CEO] saw this opportunity. My role in the team is to take care of the public relations, to contact business companies, but also to find sponsors and investors for the team.
[M Zedd] The team is young and yet, you have some pretty good achievements with this roster (winner of KeSPA Cup & IEM Cologne) : how does it work when you want to recruit a player ?
Manager : Basically, we look at the ranking on Korean servers and we contact the players directly. For example, we recently recruited Bless as a new jungler [ranked 2nd on the ladder] because of the new meta we realized that we needed a new style of jungle player. Thus we invited him to play with the team for 3 days (he came into the gaming house), but because he is shy, it wasn't easy to do so. Our coach contacted him, he refused, I contacted him, he refused, then we came to see him and he also refused. So we proposed him to come to the gaming house just to see the atmosphere and the players. He came, he enjoyed it, and now he is our new jungler.
[M Zedd] So were you looking to find a new jungling style to have a roster like SKT with Easyhoon (who plays support champions) and Faker (who plays assassin champions) ?
Manager : It is not about particular champions, but more about a new meta. On November, Ares was very good in the patches during the KeSPA Cup : at this time, you needed to manage the game along the way, and then to win a big teamfight, and that’s how we actually won the KeSPA Cup. But now, the meta has changed, and you need to do something at the begining of the game in order to take an edge. That's why you need a more aggressive jungler. It is not the style of Ares but that’s where Bless stands.
[M Zedd] Speaking about your region, in the LCK & Challenger Series, none of the Korean teams have a foreigner among them. Would you be interested in recruiting a foreigner ? Thanks to his knowledge and his culture, do you think such a player could be beneficial to the team and the players ?
Manager : I think it is a good opportunity for us and for foreigner players. As a company, we like to contribute to eSport, and because eSport is a global culture I want my players to be global stars, globaly known & respectable figures who also will contribute to eSport. To do that, I think the players need to overcome the language barrier and the culture barrier as well. By doing that, they can be these global figures. If you bring a foreign player among a team from another nationality, the players will learn from each other, share their ideas and their lifestyle. We also have a program for sending players into different regions so they can learn to be someone into the eSport industry after their players' lifetime. Recently, we have talked with a college in the US which has recently started an eSport arena and also offers a scholarship for eSport players. We talked to their director and we shared the idea of an exchange abroad program, so you can exchange players, knowing that they are also students. They also like the idea of diversity, and we like the idea of exposing my players to European and American culture, so that’s how we try to realize the idea we already had.
[M Zedd] You received offers to bring Ever into Europe and other regions. Would you like to bring Korean players into your European team ?
Manager : We are talking with Challenger teams which are gathering players and will try to qualify for the tournament. They want Korean players and they also want to be a European version of ESC Ever. It’s feasible, because you can do the qualifier online, we don’t have to send our players [in Europe] before they are qualified. So yes, I think it is definitely a good idea to mingle Korean players with European players.
[M Zedd] You always stay close to your team at every moment of their training. Can you describe a typical day at the team house ?
Manager : Usually, we start the day pretty late : the players have to wake up around 11-12am, knowing that the starting time is 1pm. So we talk about the main changes and strategies, then we start the scrims at 3pm : two matches of three games against two different teams, and the scrims are the core of our training and our normal day schedule. We scrim against LCK teams, Chinese teams and also Tawainese teams. But we prefer to play against Korean teams.
[M Zedd] Did you change your training method for the play-offs or is it the same than the one you used during the regular season ?
Manager : In a big frame, it is the same, but the issue is different. In the Challengers League we were more focused on improving the skills of the team as a whole, we were not really focused on the next match. In Challenger Series we think that we are a good team, so we look forward to the LCK and we try to follow the new trends and the recent meta. So now that we are in play-offs, we keep focused on the next match and how to beat our opponents.
The scene of the LCK at the eSport stadium
[M Zedd] You are not only involved with the players, but also with the staff. Do you work closely with the coaches, and about what subjects in particular ?
Manager : It is a small company [10 persons], so yes, we work closely. We are only four [CEO, manager & coaches] in a group chat where we talk about our ideas, new issues, comments, new recruits... So everyone is aware of what’s happening and what’s new, and we can work more easily.
[M Zedd] Because your players are very young, did you face some issues with their families - when you recruited Bless and Tempt, for example ?
Manager : Every player is different, they all have a different background. Usually the parents don’t like the idea of their children going to be an eSport player, but when we approach the family and we explain them the potential of eSport, they believe that it is something tangible. And that is when their attitude changes about eSport, and they try to learn. We also bring files of Korean players to the families so they can understand what is eSport and what does it mean.
[M Zedd] Speaking about the team now, Ever played in international competitions against the top teams of every region. Does it bring new opportunies for the players and the team to play under such a spotlight ? In which ways ?
Manager : Yes, a lot of opportunities showed up. It happened, it’s happening now, and it happened more than we expected. For example, we got the frontpage of websites from other regions like South America in which some countries are also interested of becoming ESC Ever, in order to compete into the Brazilian League. We also got feedback from fans from Vietnam and Russia. We are gathering all these informations to share them with our sponsors to show what eSport is and what we are able to do. So yes, it is pretty phenomenal for a small team from Incheon. We are also interested in bringing ESC Ever into other eSports games, like Hearthstone or Overwatch, but also video games on mobile phones.
You can feel how much Crazy (toplaner) is focused on the match.
[M Zedd] Would you be interested in having two teams in Korea : one in Challenger Series and one in LCK ?
Manager : I like the idea, we actually talked about it and if ESC Ever goes to LCK (and hopefully they do!), the Challenger Series team could help finding players and bringing them into the major scene of eSport.
[M Zedd] Losing in a tournament or in an important series can be emotionally difficult for the players. In this case, as a manager, how do you help your players ? What are your options ?
Manager : It depends on the characteristics of the players, some are very easy-going, but others are very sensitive. For example, KeY was mentally depressed, thinking that he was the [only] reason of our defeats. When this happens, he becomes quiet, we let him couple of hours by himself, and then he wakes up, ready to work again.
[M Zedd] Managers are progressively becoming more and more important on the League of Legends scene. For everyone who would like to become a manager, what are the requirements to fulfill this role ?
Manager : Yes, it is also getting bigger and bigger. We talked about the attention that we are getting from different regions, but you’d be surprised about how many people are contacting us for the managing role as well. I don’t think that the role and responsability of an eSport manage are limited to talking to players and providing food or other things, but the manager also needs to understand the players, and he needs to help them realize their own dreams. To become a great manager, you need to understand how eSport is evolving : you need to understand what fans want, what medias are doing, who are the major players, who is doing well in the media industry in China, Europe… You need to understand eSport. The role of manager has changed, so now, you need to evolve.
[M Zedd] Thank you for this interview and I wish you good luck for the qualifications for the LCK !