How Athletico is bringing their own flair to the LoL OCS

Jayden Perry Editor

By Jayden Perry, Jayden Perry is a Roar Editor

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    A new season of League of Legends is dawning. (Photo: Twitter)

    Athletico Esports is making the jump to League of Legends, and they’re bringing with them a new way to play the esports game.

    The organisation has been around for some time, but over the last years they’ve made their name as a brand through their CSGO squads. Now, in the wake of Exile 5’s relegation, the window of opportunity was opened up.

    After a successful bid for Exile 5’s Oceanic Challenger Series spot, Peter Souvils, COO Director of Esports at Athletico, saw a chance too good to pass up for the organisation.

    “League of Legends is always a very attractive prospect for any organisation,” he explained. “They have a very mature product in terms of esports – their fund allocation for players, their support level for coaches and managers, as well as the worldwide consistency of operations.” The foothold created by Riot has been key to many an organisation getting of the ground in Australia.

    Due to Athletico’s backing from AEMG and roots in CSGO, the delayed approach to getting into League isn’t a hindrance for the brand. “Athletico was the only tier one organisation that didn’t have a LoL team,” he noted. “We didn’t have to commit to the LoL structure and plans so early because we were able to structure it ourselves, but now that we have that, this bid gave us an opportunity.”

    “We were holding of entering the game until we had the infrastructure to fully implement our development structure, however this opportunity has fast tracked that,” he continued. This feeder structure is the cornerstone of the Athletico brand, attempting to build a sustainable ecosystem for esports players, staff and culture within Australia.

    “In other games we already have an academy, a second division and a premium division squad,” said Peter. “As quickly as we can we’re going to develop that feeder system whereby we can grab grassroots players, train them up to division two then ultimately have a playerbase to feed our division one League side from.”

    This system is fairly unique for Australia, with most organisations esport generally limited to a pro and back up squad, if that. Athletico’s academy feeder approach was praised by Daniel Ringland, Director of Esports at Riot Games; “They know how to build teams that perform, and at the end of the day, that brings in fans,” he noted.

    “For me, it’s all about providing a very safe, positive and winning mentality for upcoming players,” said Peter. “We know that the gameplay in Australian League of Legends isn’t at the same level as the rest of the world – there isn’t a champion Australian team rolling around. We’re not even close.”

    It’s a big deal to know where the scene is at, even when building a division two team. Understanding what needs to be done to prepare a team for local and international competition is paramount to success, and many of the OPL heavy hitters are there because of that knowledge. “We’re very much in the phase where people are learning how to mould their game to fit the international scene and actually take their game to the next level – competing at worlds,” said Peter.

    With Worlds actually on the table for the OPL split two winners, getting the Athletico team from the OCS to the OPL stage is a goal for Peter. “The motivation for us is to provide a place that continuously promotes knowledge of the game. Our model is based around sustainability. We want to make sure they can continue a career in esports even after they stop playing.”

    “It’s really important for aspirational fans who dream of being pro to have those pathways available to them,” added Daniel. Building up actual pathways for players, and those in team management and coaching, are beneficial in the long run regardless of the results attained by the Athletico players.

    While no roster has been finalised yet, the applicants have flocked in droves for all positions. “We’ve received an exciting number of really quality applicants in all roles,” explained Peter. “We have a shortlist for coach and manager first – then when we’ll use their knowledge to assist us in selecting a roster.”

    From there, their plans to expand into League can begin, and with it, maybe even new fans in the eyes of Daniel Ringland. “I think that we can expect to see through their grassroots focus they can bring in a lot of people that like League of Legends but haven’t engaged with OCE esports.”

    Athletico has strong roots through CSGO and its academy, so there’s no reason why their League of Legends team shouldn’t be one to go unnoticed. By working with a grassroots community and building their players, one day Legacy, Direwolves and the Chiefs may very well have a new name to compete with for OPL glory.

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