Best known for being the top clan in Clash Royale, Nova Esports has recently made its first major move outside of Clash Royale through the acquisition of Vainglory team The Rage Pingers. The acquisition turned out to be an immediate success, as the new team finished first in the VIS64 Split 2, and earned a spot in the prestigious Vainglory 8 by defeated Rouge.gg. MoEsport recently chatted with Nova General Managers Trevor Lawlow and Matthew Jones to learn more about their entry into Vainglory, and their thoughts on the current state of mobile esports.
MoEsport: Having first establish yourselves as a leading Clash Royale organization, what motivated Nova to enter the Vainglory scene?
Matt: Nova really started off in Clash Royale as a passion project. We grew quickly as an organization, and as we progressed, we started rising in the ranks to the point where we now dominate in both competitive play and ladder play. Despite our successes, we felt where we could go within just Clash Royale was limited. The organization’s long term ambition would require us to diversify and move beyond Clash Royale. The team started looking into other games that would allow us to jump start our presence in the greater eSports scene.
We wanted to be a part of a game that we enjoy playing and appreciate the philosophy behind it, and Vainglory provided that for us. It also happened to be a time where the game’s competitive scene was starting to explode, with a number of big organizations such as Immortals, Echo Fox, and Tempo Storm getting involved. We felt moving into Vainglory would help legitimize Nova as an esports organization in the larger scene; more importantly though, Vainglory was just a game that we personally enjoyed playing, and we see a lot of potential in it. Vainglory is the flagship game for the mobile esports genre, and we believe that mobile is the future of esports.
MoEsport: Having made the decision to enter Vainglory then, how did you guys end up acquiring TheRagePingers?
Trevor: I actually took the initiative to get our organization involved in Vainglory. I started playing the game, got involved with the community, and picked up a good understanding of the competitive scene, casual scene, and the game as a whole. I followed the VIS 64 Split 1, got an idea of how the competition works, and saw a number of teams that I liked. In Split 2, I started paying more attention to TheRagePingers. During Split 1, they finished 4th, and were one spot away from the Challenge Battles (qualifying matches for the Vainglory 8). For the 2nd split, they upgraded their Roamer, and brought on board a captain (Starboi) that was previously the substitute for Team SoloMid. Starboi was very consistent and we felt the team was primed to do very well. Through the community I was able to get in contact with the team; we got to know them on a personal level, asked them what they would want from an organization, and decided to offer them a contract prior to the Split ending. After they accepted, they went on to win the VIS64 Championship. And shortly after that, they played and beat Rogue, which means they will be in for the Summer Season of VG8!
MoEsport: Now that the new Nova team is part of the VG8 and will be competing against the best of the best in NA, what are some the goals you guys hope to achieve from here on out?
Trevor: I want to keep our goals realistic. There are teams in the VG8 that have more experience and have been in that competitive environment for awhile. I think that we can finish in the top 5; our main goal would be to qualify for the live championships and not have to play the Challenge Battle! Down the line, I think our team has the potential to be a Top 3 (or Top 1!) team, but right now we are here to gain the experience that will allow the team long term success for many seasons to come.
MoEsport: On the subject of training and getting experience, countless hours of practice will be required for a team to go from good to great. Other top Vainglory teams have dedicated a lot of resources to improve their players, including the hiring of managers/analysts or even housing them full time. What are some of the things Nova is doing/will do to help the Vainglory team prepare to compete with the best of the best out there?
Matt: What it comes down to are the players and the personalities. We acquired the team not just based on their performance, but the drive and work ethics that we saw in the players. Starboi, for example, is somebody that really embodies that. He’s the type of guy that we would try to talk to him, and he might say “let’s schedule a call later” because he’s reviewing VODs of teams that he potentially can be facing a week or two from now. He’s constantly working on improving his own play, his team’s play, strategizing and observing what others are doing in the community; having that kind of work ethic is what drives the team, and what’s going to make a difference. For us (management), we want to provide a supportive environment that allows them to achieve their goals. They have the drive to achieve success themselves; on our end, it’s more about providing the resources for them to achieve that, whether that is equipment, an analyst to look at specifics, or a coach to organize practices. It’s really a symbiotic relationship with the team, they tell us what they need, and we make adjustments, provide for them, and adapt as we see what works and what doesn’t.
Trevor: I just want to further emphasized how impressed we were with the team’s work ethics, these guys work just as hard as the top teams out there. Starboi came from the TSM program, and the team was scrimming with VG8 teams well before qualifying for the VG8 themselves. There will be some adjustments (such as the double ban drafts), but they have been putting in a lot of work, and with their dedication and hours put into the game we’re confident they will adjust quickly.
MoEsport: From a Nova management perspective, what’s your take on mobile esports in general? As a mobile-centric organization, does Nova have any plans beyond Clash Royale and Vainglory?
Trevor: I think we want to establish ourselves in the mobile scene, and be involved in all the major titles on a competitive level. Once we have achieved that, we would be open to exploring expanding into PC games, but first we want to establish our foundation in the mobile scene.
Matt: In terms of the state of the mobile scene, we are seeing great things coming from the game developers. For example, Super Evil MegaCorp has been very accessible to its player base, and has been willing to work with them to develop its competitive scene. For Supercell, it’s incredible what they are doing with the Clash Royale Crown Championships, though we feel there may have been more room for improvement had their been more community engagement before the championships were announced. The community are the games’ stakeholders, and care very deeply about what happens with the game and its ecosystem. If the developers are willing to listen to and engage with the community (especially given the accessibility of mobile), I believe the future of mobile esports is incredibly bright.
Trevor: I think we will see in the next few years more esports titles having a mobile presence, possibly even current PC esports titles. It could be a mobile version of League of Legends, or possibly another title from Supercell or SEMC! But I do think there will be continuing growth in mobile, simply due to accessibility; for the current generation of young gamers, accessibility is very important.