Veteran players Alexey "Alex Ich" Ichetovkin and Alberto "Crumbzz" Rengifo will be joining forces to form a new Challenger team. The team will be owned and financed by Chris Badawi - a former lawyer who was formerly in the running to pick up Curse Academy.
Rengifo and Ichetovkin will be joined by Maria "Yuno" Creveling in the support position. Creveling previously played for Team Roar’s bottom lane alongside Shan "Chaox" Huang.
The AD Carry and Top lane positions have yet to be finalized, but the team is currently scrimming with Ritchie "Intense" Ngo (AD Carry) and Oleksii "RF Legendary" Kuziuta (Top lane). Badawi states that the scrims so far have been going great but that the team is still considering all available options and accepting applications.
The team’s name is still to be determined, but Badawi states that they’re happy to accept name suggestions via this email: [email protected].
The Score had a mini Q&A with Chris Badawi.
Q. Greetings Chris, so first off - what was the inspiration behind forming the challenger team?
I was a lawyer in New York doing patent litigation and one day I got run over by a car and almost died. Facing the end of your life is the best way to see where you want your future to go and I realised that I really didn’t want to do patent law anymore. I’ve always been a gamer at heart - not a very good one - but it has always been in my heart. So when I saw that there was a massive opportunity to create real business in this industry, I figured that I owed it to myself to try.
Q. So how did you get in touch with Crumbzz and Alex?
So initially, I was in the running to purchase Curse Academy from Steve Arhancet. I got outbid but I formed a relationship with Steve and during that process he invited me to work with Liquid for a couple of weeks and see what it is that I wanted to get out of the scene. Steve opened a lot of doors for me and really welcomed me into the scene. I made a lot of great connections and met a lot of good people. After my experience with Liquid, I decided to create my own team and we parted on good terms. Steve was really wonderful throughout the whole process.
I saw Crumbzz left Dignitas, had drinks with him and talked about what we wanted out of the future. We wanted to create something that was really player centric - less of a company and more a family, something like the early Cloud 9 - a bunch of guys doing something that they loved. The scene is so competitive and there is so much money involved that there is a lot of pressure on these guys and a lot of the times their love of the game diminishes. Overall I think it is possible for players to play this game for a living and have fun doing it.
I decided I wanted to create an atmosphere and a team where they felt like they were part of an organization - something they were proud of and were personally invested in the outcome of how the organization does and Crumbzz really liked the philosophy. So he and I together started talking about what kind of team we wanted and what kind of roster we wanted. Crumbzz suggested Alex and I talked with Alex to see if he was contracted to any team. He said he wasn’t and so we ended up getting Alex. Crumbzz and Alex are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. Any team with these two kind, professional and distinguished personalities at its core will be an absolute pleasure for all involved - not to mention Alex is a legend and Crumbzz has been in the scene from the start.
So with this philosophy in mind, I started to search for other players and found Yuno. All three of us agreed that she was a diamond in the rough. We’re now three strong and still looking to solidify the rest of the roster. We have plenty of time until the Challenger Series qualifiers.
Q. What are you looking for in those roles?
Again, with this philosophy in mind, it’s of paramount importance that they’re not just a player who talks - they’re somebody who would be your friend and you’d want to wake up and see everyday. Somebody that creates an atmosphere of joy and not tension. Obviously, pure mechanical skill and game knowledge is a requisite.
Q. You stated that that you saw an opportunity to create real business but then you stated you wanted to create a family, do these two not clash stylistically? How do you aim to be a family and a real business?
When I was working within the LCS I noticed that there was a lot of pressure and expectations on the players and that personality seemed to be taking a backseat to skill alone. I wanted to create an environment where players felt more a part of the organization and less like an employee. My goal is to create a team where players feel valued and appreciated and I believe that the organization can be profitable with that mentality.
That isn’t to say that we won’t bench people for underperforming, but we won’t ignore their feelings either. It’s rather a place where players feel heard and have a personal stake in the success of their business. I’m planning to implement a profit sharing model.
Q. You mentioned in your previous answer that you were planning to implement a profit sharing model - could you elaborate a bit more on this and how do you plan to avoid the pitfalls that ex-Alternate had in 2013?
Its tentative and a work in progress. But ultimately I can envision a system where the players compensation grows as the organization grows. What I believe that perhaps some in the scene do not, is that the players essentially are the organization. I just think they should be treated as such.
In terms of avoiding pitfalls, the profit share would belong to the spot, not the player. For example. each player on the active roster is entitled to a base salary + X percent of org profits (however we decide to calculate that). So a player would have to be on the active roster to obtain a profit share
Q. Lets move on to infrastructure. What infrastructure do you plan on implementing?
Regarding staff - we’re looking at a number of different coaches. We’ve been working with different people and seeing who we work the best with. There is still a lot of time left and we believe that there are a lot of great people out there - many who are committed to other things that may become available, so we haven’t committed to any staff at the present.
In terms of facilities, we’ll get a gaming house near the Los Angeles area once we get into the Challenger Series.
Q. What is the team’s name?
We haven’t decided on a team name yet. It’s important to me that the members feel that the team is theirs - as well as the staff. Once the roster is finalized, we’ll see what the community has come up with and decide together. Alex was particularly excited about NA 5.
Q. Thanks for answering all these questions - is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to express my gratitude to Steve Arhancet for opening all these doors for me and that I couldn’t be happier to work with the people I’m working with. These are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. It’s exciting and all very fun.