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Gen.G Arnold: “Competition is sacred. I have huge respect for our players and coaches. The amount of stress they go through would break 99.9% of people out there.”

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The common season of the 2021 LCK Summer season cut up is nearing its finish. With Gen.G locking of their playoff spot, they’re on observe to seize the championship this cut up, and likewise punch their tickets to Worlds this 12 months.

 

On a extremely popular day in Seoul, we at Inven International had an opportunity to talk with the COO of Gen.G, Arnold Hur. In an hour-long dialog with Arnold, he addressed the present enterprise course of the group, the state of Gen.G’s League of Legends roster, franchising within the LCK, and his favourite Twitch streamer.


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You at all times commute between LA and Korea. What brings you to Korea this time round?

 

It’s positively a business-related journey this time round. It’s been some time since I’ve been in Korea. The largest factor I wished to do is make it possible for we’re on target, similar to sponsorships and whatnot, as our LoL crew heads into the playoffs and is working in the direction of going to Worlds.

 

One of many key issues that I need followers to grasp is that plenty of the choices that we make as a enterprise influence how we do competitively this season and onwards. At this level, high gamers’ salaries are over one million {dollars} a 12 months. Generally, there are a number of gamers that obtain that a lot cash; we’re now at some extent the place issues like sponsorships and content material are important. These issues require us to have a plan that we execute a 12 months into the longer term. It’s some huge cash.

 

I at all times suppose like this: the gamers take into consideration profitable the sport, the coaches take into consideration how we win the season, and the group thinks and acts on how we will win going into the longer term. Primary: Are we caring for our gamers? Do gamers wish to be part of Gen.G? Two: Which gamers wish to be part of Gen.G through the FA interval?

 

I wasn’t assured sufficient to say that they’ll be part of our group three years in the past, however now I’m assured that they wish to be part of as a result of we all know we deal with our gamers. They know we have now nice amenities and even private trainers; I feel CuVee didn’t like our meals [laughter], however typically, the gamers are glad with our meals. Crucial half is, “Do you’ve got the cash to have the ability to afford these participant salaries?” When it comes to participant acquisition, we’re now competing globally. 

 

Loads of what you’ve stated ties in with Gen.G’s distinctive academy system as effectively. I’m curious how Gen.G approaches discovering rookie expertise as effectively.

 

When it comes to going into free company subsequent 12 months, we’re in a really fortunate place. We’ve obtained nice gamers below contract that we will both prolong or make modifications to, and we have now nice up-and-coming rookie expertise as effectively. I feel the strikes we make are going to find out not simply subsequent 12 months, however 2-3 years forward as effectively. I view this as one other nice alternative that comes from powerful choices as a result of we’re deciding between a bunch of proficient gamers.

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I’d say that if we don’t make the fitting enterprise choices proper now, we gained’t be capable of prolong the contracts of any of those gamers or signal new ones as a result of the market has shifted a lot, particularly with franchising within the LCK. Loads of groups are going all-in on constructing a robust roster, and with 10 groups going in any case these gamers, the market’s going to be very aggressive. I feel that companies that attempt to prepare for them on the finish of the 12 months gained’t have a shot.

 

We’ve been ensuring that we at all times have a plan. We had been solely in a position to try this as a result of I belief the teaching employees and the gamers to make the changes they must be profitable within the playoffs and Worlds.

 

What are a few of the rising pains that the group confronted in its early days in comparison with after the LCK obtained franchised?

 

I feel there have been plenty of rising pains, however there have been plenty of nice alternatives as effectively. We’ve observed that our fanbase is definitely very international and on the identical time, our Korean fanbase has grown fairly considerably as effectively. An excellent instance of a mistake that we made was after we had our Puma jerseys on the market. We based mostly our projections based mostly on our earlier gross sales historical past of our jerseys, particularly right here in Korea. 

 

We blew by means of that so shortly. The error on our half was underestimating how a lot momentum and fanbase we had. We had been already locked in to make the Worlds jersey obtainable on the market to followers this 12 months. The best way the cycle works is that plenty of that is pre-made. If we do not make it, it is ineffective. And we’re already on the subsequent jersey, it is far more cycles upfront than the smaller business was doing. We’re speaking a lot greater numbers now.

 

On the identical time, the merch enterprise is just not an actual enterprise. I do not know of a single crew within the LCK, together with the highest ones, that has a worthwhile merch enterprise. I wish to push the crew to do much more, however on the identical time, the cycles that we have to adhere to now are very completely different now in comparison with the early days.

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After I take into consideration how a lot we’re prepared to take a position, how critical we’re about profitable, and that we’ve not gained — I am upset.

I am curious the way you constructed the star participant model. If the gamers do not like doing content material, as you advised me, then how does the group construct the franchise star? Is it by means of the All-in collection, or by means of alternate strategies?

 

There isn’t any one reply. The largest reply is “They need to win”. I do know our household is small, however in League of Legends, we’ve not gained something. And what will we count on? Am I glad with our efficiency during the last three years? Completely not. If we give it some thought, we’re paying one of many high payrolls inside the LCK — and I’ve seemed on the payrolls globally, we’re within the high as effectively. However once I take into consideration how a lot we’re prepared to take a position, how critical we’re about profitable, and that we’ve not gained — I am upset.

 

In fact, it might be silly to not make modifications if we won’t achieve success. However I strive to not be upset about particular person wins or losses, I care in regards to the strategy and the evolution of the crew and whether or not that is been occurring or not. And I’ve to be sincere, I have never been glad with the evolution of the crew to date. Particularly proper now, the chance for us to vary goes to be important for us to achieve success.

 

With regards to the massive problem, I am excited to see it, however finally, we gotta win earlier than we will have a franchise star. After we talked to Ruler and we signed the extension, that was the very first thing I advised him: “Look, I am not gonna promise issues will probably be simple and win every thing. However I can promise that we’ll construct a enterprise that may allow us to go and get the most important stars on the planet.”

 

Will we get all of them? You already know, there are esports groups that spend silly quantities of cash. We’re not gonna make unhealthy monetary choices that jeopardize our enterprise, however on the identical time, I really feel very assured we have now the monetary chops to exit and get nice gamers.

I really like the course franchising goes. Nonetheless, I hate the tempo. That is one thing I’ve at all times been pissed off by in esports.

Although franchising is a factor now, most of the people would not know the tremendous particulars of it. Are you able to share, at the very least from the Gen.G aspect, what these finer particulars are?

 

I really like the course franchising goes. Nonetheless, I hate the tempo. That is one thing I’ve at all times been pissed off by in esports. After we had been getting the brand new constructing, separating the coaching facility from housing, I believed all people would do it by that 12 months, 2017. No one did it. And I used to be so shocked and upset that everybody was transferring so slowly. After we began doing content material, I anticipated the entire crew to do it.

 

And now with franchising, groups are lastly recognizing that if you wish to get one of the best gamers, you want sponsors. Sponsors require content material, so you must go do this, in any other case, you may by no means have a very good crew. After I see a few of the groups that do not do this, what I see is a crew that isn’t dedicated to profitable.

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On the identical time, when groups abuse it and do not present the quantity of respect {that a} skilled athlete wants… If Giannis, who’s my new favourite participant within the NBA, has a extremely vital sport the day earlier than, I assure you I am not distracting him. Competitors is sacred. I’ve large respect for our gamers and coaches. The quantity of stress they undergo would break 99.9% of individuals on the market.

 

With regards to the LCK, I really like the course, the brand new playoffs format, however we aren’t doing sufficient to make the viewership fascinating sufficient. I need us taking dangers, experimenting, attempting new concepts on the printed — we aren’t doing that. We’re beginning to, but it surely’s transferring too gradual. The best way I see it, we have now this restricted window the place individuals care in regards to the LCK globally. Once they care, we should not take it with no consideration. We must be attempting our greatest to press the benefit. I am anxious that we’re sitting too comfortably. I hope different groups really feel that urgency too.

 

How does Gen.G keep forward of the curve on this one?

 

We have now this phrase, “We wish to change the sport.” However we aren’t going to try this with a crew that sucks. We have now to be competing for championships… there’s just one crew that wins Worlds, however we have now to be on the market. That to me is an important.

 

But additionally, what I inform gamers right here, being the crew that helps the business strikes ahead means taking dangers, doing issues individuals could not perceive, however understanding in your head that the group is doing it responsibly.

This is my prediction: Each single crew, and the league, will probably be completely unprepared for a way large of a chance to do one thing thrilling this will probably be when followers come again safely [to the studio].

 

Ultimately, the followers are gonna be again to the studio after COVID. How do you envision the league will probably be when that occurs? Do you suppose there will probably be a lift in promoting merch? Are there new enterprise alternatives that contain the followers?

 

This is my prediction: Each single crew, and the league, will probably be completely unprepared for a way large of a chance to do one thing thrilling this will probably be when followers come again safely [to the studio]. However we have now to know it is a powerful scenario proper now. We have now a ton of concepts for when followers can meet the gamers… but it surely’s not going to occur this cut up, and by the point the cut up is over, it is Worlds.

 

Going into the low season and the subsequent season, what I might push the league to do is make an expertise that is worthwhile to go to, but in addition carry your mates to. Proper now, our core followers like to go to LoL Park, but it surely’s not an ideal expertise for followers which might be model new. And we have now to think about the subsequent stage. We’re not there but. Even the small issues: there’s nothing to do through the sport breaks if you’re there. We have to rebuild it from the bottom up.

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I keep in mind the backlash that Gen.G acquired from the Korean neighborhood round BLM because of the org’s use of the Korean flag. Since then, how does the group view the juxtaposition of the communication between the Korean neighborhood and the Western neighborhood?

 

The best way our firm dealt with it right here in Korea was a mistake. Errors might be made, however let’s be certain that we do not make them once more. That is what we’re at all times dedicated to, and that goes again to the risk-taking mentality I spoke of. Once you take dangers, it is vital to do it out of a way of duty and then you definately take duty on your actions if you make a mistake. And I can assure it will not occur once more.

After I take a look at our gamers, they’re working their butts off, and plenty of them come from very low earnings or poor backgrounds. This is not a bunch of wealthy youngsters enjoying with a toy. That is life or loss of life for them.

What sort of cultural and societal actions resonate with Gen.G essentially the most?

 

There’s one thing that is crucial to me in Korea, which is round offering alternatives. After I take a look at our gamers, they’re working their butts off, and plenty of them come from very low earnings or poor backgrounds. This is not a bunch of wealthy youngsters enjoying with a toy. That is life or loss of life for them. That is their alternative to go to the subsequent stage. Now that we have been a few years into it, I notice plenty of gamers do not make it. Loads of coaches do not make it. And there is nothing for them to do. There is a joke amongst gamers, “If I do not make it, I am gonna open a hen retailer.”

 

At first, I took it as a joke, however as soon as I seemed deeper, it is the reality for lots of people. If I used to be on this scenario and wasn’t given alternatives, I might be offended, I am unsure what I might do or who I might turn out to be. For us, we have been working arduous not simply to take excellent care of gamers — that is simple — but in addition to be the primary to offer alternatives when it would not work out. We’re among the many first that go and convert post-career gamers into streamers. And we had been very fortunate with CuVee, with Ambition, and it is enjoyable to see their evolution. They have been so profitable. They’re in all probability making extra money now than once they had been gamers.

 

Talking of streamers, who’s your favourite streamer?

 

Anyone that makes use of my title and will get to the very best rank — no matter that could be — can be my favourite streamer. [laughs] That opens the door for Ambition to vary his title to Arnold 2, CuVee might be Arnold 3… [laughs]

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What’s your relationship with the gamers on a private stage?

 

I feel greater than something, if you concentrate on a participant’s life, each single individual round them — their girlfriends, dad and mom, associates — all they care about is whether or not they’re profitable, what match they’re enjoying. I feel plenty of our gamers lose sight that this, on the finish of the day, remains to be only a sport, only a sport. I strive to not ask too many questions on to the gamers about in-game stuff, plus it isn’t like I am gonna be of assist to Ruler. [laughs] So I often ask how they’re doing personally, what’s new of their life, in order that they’ve this skill to grasp that they nonetheless have this broader life. Should you can work out the best way to deal with your broader life, you might be extra profitable in your skilled life.

 

You would be shocked how many individuals do not ask these items. They wish to discuss how their construct was, how their decide/ban was. And, after all, I do care about these issues too and I discuss it with our GM and coaches, however with the gamers, I are inclined to preserve it mild.

 

One factor I observed that was fairly cool was how Gen.G interacts with the Ok-pop stars. With stuff like that, new approaches to content material and branding, what sort of a model do you see Gen.G turning into in 5 years’ time?

 

I’ve spent plenty of time interested by this, particularly about what can resonate with our aggressive wants essentially the most, and attempt to discover what are examples that may actually assist us. We have now a historical past working with Korean hip hop artists and other people suppose, “Oh, they’re doing that only for advertising and marketing cash”… No. Folks want to grasp that the model is basically vital. Gamers care about what sort of model a crew has. It is not the #1 factor — the #1 factor is at all times cash. The #2 is how aggressive that crew is. And after that, it is the model.

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For me, with a juggernaut like T1 on the planet and their unimaginable model, we won’t ignore that our model must proceed to get greater and higher. One of many issues that I’ve observed and I actually like about Korean hip-hop and pop is that it is what the gamers need. Gamers wish to do content material with these artists as a result of that is the music they hearken to. It is really not that sophisticated for me. I take a look at the way in which Korean hip hop grew from this business that individuals seemed down upon to this large international business.

 

There are plenty of issues we will be taught from that and apply to esports. Should you take a look at the place esports was 3-5 years in the past and the place it is now — it is loopy. I might be the primary to let you know, once I first began right here, I used to be like, “We’d like a jersey sponsor”. I could not even get a gathering. I needed to pull each single private string to go sit down with advertising and marketing managers of attire firms they usually did not give a shit. Now, we have now incoming calls. The very fact we have now Puma — that is f*****g loopy.

Now, we all know the place the issues are. Earlier than, individuals used to only disagree with the issues. And if we fail now, I will know that at the very least we have tried. That feeling I like.

The LoL crew is now in its second 12 months of sticking collectively as a unit. What sort of a crew had been they initially to what they’re now?

 

One space of development I’ve seen is how the gamers and coaches have purchased into the concept there is no extra time to be cussed about something. All people is aware of what they should do. Everybody’s on the identical web page and it is a matter of can we do it or not. That is form of an ideal unifying pressure ultimately. However I’ve 100% perception that we will adapt to the brand new meta, although we’re behind.

 

Now, we all know the place the issues are. Earlier than, individuals used to only disagree with the issues. And if we fail now, I will know that at the very least we have tried. That feeling I like.

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https://www.invenglobal.com/articles/14728/geng-arnold-competition-is-sacred-i-have-huge-respect-for-our-players-and-coaches-the-amount-of-stress-they-go-through-would-break-999-of-people-out-there | Gen.G Arnold: “Competitors is sacred. I’ve large respect for our gamers and coaches. The quantity of stress they undergo would break 99.9% of individuals on the market.”

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