(Photo: Gfinity EGX Champion of Champions)
Team EnVyUs has big plans for their home city of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The enormously successful esports organization is working with city officials to build an all-inclusive facility centered around interactive entertainment. The property will be complete with a studio, arena, offices, LAN center, and training facility. It will also be used to host esports tournaments and technology camps.
Team owner Mike “hastr0” Rufail is working closely with local NC venture capital fund SierraMaya360 to build the facility. Speaking to Yahoo Esports, hastr0 confirmed that the potentially multi-million dollar deal is likely to close within the next two months. The hope, he says, is to create an atmosphere similar to that of a traditional sport so that members of the public can watch and potentially participate in events semi-regularly.
“We are in the later stages of taking a round of funding from SierraMaya360, which is a local investment firm,” he told Yahoo Esports. “They are very involved in Hollywood, sports, and entertainment and they’re very passionate about esports. They’re helping us bring in strategic investors and professional sports team owners into the space. They’re also very in tune with what we have going on in the scene and how the sport is going and they’re paying very close attention to it. They emulate the same passion that we have for esports and that’s very important to us.”
“We are really excited to make Mike’s vision a reality in Charlotte and the city has grasped the idea of having another pro sports team alongside the Panthers and Hornets.” said Amish Shah, founding partner of SierraMaya360, “We will be bringing world class players to Charlotte and give them a place to live and practice when they come to the states.”
Both hastr0 and Shah have been working closely with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce to outline the project. After seven years in North Carolina, hastr0 sees his home turf as the perfect setting for the next phase of his organization’s growth.
“Being in North Carolina is comfortable for us,” he said. “Charlotte is the second fastest growing city in the United States. It’s an amazing place for young people to live and certainly our demographic is kind of the younger crowd who appreciates the modern lifestyle. Charlotte is very much that.”
The training facility will not require every player representing EnVyUs to move to Charlotte. Rather, the initiative will act as a place for the team to practice and bootcamp when needed.
“We would certainly want players to come and use the facility as a full-time home base, but we understand that a lot of professional players in our own organization have their own lives and we don’t want to require players necessarily to move their whole life to Charlotte,” he said. “The goal is just to give them a place to take time away and focus on their careers, and really give them an opportunity to take a more serious approach.”
In addition to the training facility, hastr0 also has plans for the property’s arena.
“Not only will we run our own small events, potential tournaments, or viewing sessions for our players, but it’s also just for esports events in general,” he said. “I think right now it’s very much a situation where people are at home watching esports on Twitch, watching it on streams and you’re very isolated. You don’t get to share that experience with other people…we want to change that and let people enjoy esports in a communal setting.”
The move mirrors traditional sports, where teams represent cities. hastr0 believes that could very well happen for esports, too.
“I think it’s a different approach than a lot of other teams are taking. Our vision was to do something more organized for our players and our organization,” he said. “The city has been more than welcoming to us and the idea of having us as an unofficial sports team…they certainly support the idea of bringing esports to Charlotte. I think that eventually you’re going to see that more teams are going to call cities home in the long run.”
It’s an ambitious vision, but it makes plenty of sense. Team EnVyUs is best known for Call of Duty, CS:GO, and Halo, though they have found success in other titles as well, bolstering a deep roster of players that spans Overwatch, Smite, Starcraft II, and Gears of War. The team generates significant revenue — hastr0 claims they’ve brought in well over seven figures— and there’s no sign of slowing. EnVyUs is taking a step into a new standard, the inevitable outcome of the staggering growth esports has enjoyed over the past few years. Only time will tell if the rest of the industry will follow.
Dylan Walker is on Twitter @dyluuxx.