While Los Angeles Valiant’s Homestand Weekend has fans excited, there may not be anyone as enthusiastic about the team’s first opportunity to host the Overwatch League than Immortals Gaming Club CEO Ari Segal.
Valiant’s parent company, Immortals Gaming Club, has a lot to look forward to in 2020. First, there’s the return to the LCS thanks to the OpTic Gaming buyout. And now there’s the opportunity to grow their global precense in the Overwatch League more than ever before. The Homestand Weekend is just the beginning of that new journey.
Segal discussed the Homestand Weekend and what it means for next year’s international schedule in a press conference before the tournament began.
What is the importance of hosting the Valiant’s first Homestand Weekend?
Segal: To win and get into the playoffs. But also, the Overwatch League has been in LA for two years. It’s a great experience, but there’s been nothing that’s been on brand for any particular team.
The Homestand Weekend has created this complex and interesting opportunity for us, where we have a chance to put our stamp on the esports market this weekend. We get to put ourselves forward as a brand. We can say, ‘This is what an LA Valiant game looks like. This is what an LA Valiant match looks like.’
The Novo will be your home base in 2020 as well. Do you think there will be any changes leading up to next season?
This weekend, we will discover things we may do differently for next year. We’ll get feedback from our fans. Things will be brought to our attention, and we’ll listen really closely. What would have made the event better? What could be taken away from this experience?
We will be doing surveys for sure on site, and after the event, too. We’ll be paying close attention to what others are doing at other events. We will be trying to continue to push the bar, to see what’s bigger and better, as long as it’s consistent with our brand. We want to make our weekend different from other weekends, and find that storytelling narrative from a marketing angle.
Did you learn anything from the Dallas Homestand Weekend?
We felt the reverberation when Houston and Dallas walked out on that stage. Not that this industry needed to be validated, but it still felt very satisfying.
The thing we always believed in from the original first days of the Overwatch League was that people cared about where they were from and cared about particular cities. We saw it in that moment.
How do you plan to cater to the Valiant versus Gladiators rivalry, with both teams being from Los Angeles?
Good versus evil.
I say that in jest, but there’s a bit of truth to that. Their brand is saltier. They’re a little bit more specific on social media. Our brand is more about warm and fuzzy and inclusivity and diversity. Then theres Downtown LA vs Inglewood. We will both keep trying to raise the bar in technology and winning and branding. It’s fun to be in the middle of that. There will be organic competitive storytelling with other teams as well, regardless of location.
Do you believe there’s any advantage to playing on your home turf?
Yes, but it will be realized for us more in the future. Right now, everybody is here. But teams have a better record at home than on the road because of fans. And because of familiarity, too. Sleeping in your own bed, focusing really specifically on the task at hand. Not waking up in a strange place, not sure what you’re eating, napping in a hotel room. There will be more of a home field advantage next year, more than there is today.
How is the Los Angeles Valiant approaching that change?
Competitively, my goal is to build a great team. Not just players, but staff, that can out-execute the competition. By making a smooth experience for our players, they will perform better. The competition between teams is off the field too, and we aim to win that.
The challenge is all teams are in the same boat. What’s the function of that? It’ll be energizing for players to experience the different energy that each unique market brings. People will be seing the OWL for the first time, and you’ll feel that as a player, as a sponsor, or as a organization. And that’s exciting.
We’ll be using each of those experiences as a learning exprience. Each city will have at least one of these things next year. How will each city embrace the oportunity? How are the fans reacting? How is the city itself reacting? Wht can we learn and bring it back here.
Next year will be hard. Period. But there will be a lot of learning, a lot of oppotunities, a lot of wins.