Vatic’s Generosity
September 15, 2019 by T90WRS
Esports is a fickle industry. Generally, it’s negativity you read about: an owner stealing a player’s prize money, a promising team crumbling apart after an argument or somebody representing competitive gamers poorly. Today is a good day because there’s some positive news – a brilliant act of generosity.
It all started a few weeks ago, shortly before it was revealed that Battalion 1944 would feature at October’s Epic LAN 28 in the United Kingdom. Battalion’s inclusion was far from a well-kept secret and lots of teams had caught wind of the news that there would be an event with a substantial prize pool taking place, for European sides this time.

It wasn’t too long before players started confirming their interest in attending the tournament. As would be expected when a potential £15,000 is available to be won, the excitement was sky-high, so much so that even Americans were looking to make the cross-Atlantic journey, similar to the EUROTRASH super-team who attended Fragadelphia. One such team to disclose their intent was Vatic Esports, a North American organisation ran by Serge ‘Serge’ Gaidamaka, the owner who went one step further and, to many people’s surprise, purchased five Epic LAN tickets for his roster.

“We want to be the best team in Battalion” explains Serge. “I'm here to support my players and provide them with what they need in order to have the best chances at winning. International LAN experience is rare to come by and I wanted to make sure that when we (hopefully) do qualify for the majors, it's not our first time out there.”

Serge is evidently very passionate about esports as well as Battalion 1944. His Twitter profile picture is him sporting one of Cloud9’s baseball caps and his profile is packed with retweets and posts about games – some relating to Vatic, others about wider esports issues. Serge is realistic yet ambitious and has clear milestones and goals for his teams that represent his brand.

“In terms of results, we would have considered making it out of groups a success, but the most important expected return would have been the experienced gained. I imagine the players bond and chemistry would have tremendously increased from the travel and the practice we would have acquired from the boot camp would also translate into more dominant performance for our competitions in North America.”

However, Serge’s most recent tweet about Vatic, at first glance, is not positive; his team are no longer attending Epic LAN.

“Honestly [discovering one player couldn’t attend] was heartbreaking to hear. I knew just how important the trip was to everyone. When we concluded that there was nothing that could be done to have him join us on our journey, we immediately started brainstorming how to use the funds and decided to make sure that we still go on a trip together somewhere before the end of the year which of course helped with morale. I'm incredibly proud of my team for rallying around him with love and support.”

The exact reasoning for a member of Vatic being unable to attend the event will remain confidential and a matter for internal resolution, however, the team’s next decision is one that deserves praise and recognition from esports as a whole; Gaidamaka and his team of Rev0h, Jben, Hero, sYnCeR and athn decided to donate their Epic LAN tickets.

Explaining how the team reached their decision, Serge says “We first asked if there are any possible options or resources that we could exhaust in order for [the player] to make the trip. Once it was confirmed that nothing could be done, we started brainstorming as a team the best course of action. Ultimately, we landed on donating the LAN tickets so as to not hurt the prize pool and provide a team that otherwise would not have been able to attend, the opportunity to do so.”

Given the value of what’s on offer, the responsibility of sourcing a suitable recipient is difficult. Serge was clear that he had no intention of signing a European team on a short-term contract purely to utilise the tickets, stating that it’s not something he’d feel comfortable with, especially with such strong loyalties to his pre-existing Battalion roster. Instead, he entrusted the job of identifying a team to Aaron Baker, Bulkhead’s community manager.

“It would be great to have a representing Vatic team in EU someday, but I'm not comfortable with signing players on such short notice, especially since it would have likely been a newly created team and we try our best to make investments into players and teams that either have a proven track record or are able to show intention to stay together for the long run. This is why I asked [Aaron Baker] to make the decision as to who will get the tickets so we can remain un-affiliated.”

...we landed on donating the LAN tickets so as to not hurt the prize pool and provide a team that otherwise would not have been able to attend, the opportunity to do so.

There is likely to already be a handful of shortlisted teams. There are plenty of free agents and un-supported rosters who would dive on free tickets and a shot at the prize money, but, just like Serge and his team, Aaron’s focus will (and rightly should) be on the development of a worthy side short of resources rather than short-sighted splurges. Vatic, as a brand, share this mentality when it comes to building their own identity.

“We are still missing much of the core fundamentals that should be present with any start-up business or esports organization” describes Gaidamaka. “Depending on how successful we are with the first round of funding will determine our next steps. In 6 months’, time I want us to be in a gaming house with salaried positions. In 12 months, I want us to surpass a Twitter following of 50K. By the 18 months mark I hope that when people are thinking about the development and success of esports on the east coast, Vatic Esports comes to mind.”

For any esports venture to be successful, there is an element of luck and Vatic will need their own to leave an impression on the business world of gaming. To some, the series of events which have left the organization having to donate their Epic LAN tickets will be coined ‘unlucky’, but – actually – it’s good fortune, at least for the Battalion community as a whole. Serge and his players have demonstrated the reason why this collection of passionate competitive gamers remain so tight-knit: a common interest in seeing the type of game Battalion is succeeding. It’s not Counter-Strike, it’s not Fortnite nor is it Quake or modern-era Call of Duty. It’s ours and we love it.

Adding some final words to a quick chat-cum-interview, Serge praised Bulkhead’s community manager, the man with a decision to make. “Huge shout out to Baker; I really admire him for his resilience in the scene and would like to highlight that he has offered to waive our players' entry fees to the next LAN that we choose to attend.”

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