Carlos “Ocelote” Rodriguez is one of the most recognized figures in the League of Legends esports scene. The Spaniard was considered a top player in his heyday as a professional player, and since then has gone on to start his own esports organization.
His organization, Gamers2, initially struggled to see much success after it was formed in February 2014. Rodriguez formed the organization after departing SK, his home for three years and the place he built his reputation. On the League of Legends side of things, with Rodriguez as a starting player, the team failed to qualify for the LCS three times. Even after the player-turned-businessman hung up his mouse and keyboard, the “G2 curse” seemed to stick, with the team again failing to progress to the next level.
Rodriguez has transformed Gamers2—in more ways than one. The organization now boasts one of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams. And it’s League of Legends squad finally qualified for the European LCS on Sept. 5. The squad featured two former LCS competitors in the form of Mateusz “Kikis” Szkudlarek and Jesse “Jesse” Le, with the former coming from Unicorns of Love, and the latter being Rodriguez’s replacement when the spaniard left SK Gaming.
We sat down with Rodriguez to talk about the LCS, the transition to being businessman, and Gamer2’s upcoming rebranding.
Your League team recently qualified for the LCS over SK Gaming. How big of a match was that for you? You’d failed in the past, you had put yourself in as the coach, and you were facing your old team SK Gaming?
During my nine years as a professional player, I have never thought I would ever be a coach per se. In fact, my skill-set throughout all my life has not been very coach-friendly precisely. For that reason, I never thought I would fit into this role well. However, the team was in an emergency and precisely asked me to coach them for this game even though I suggested them against it. After thinking about it, and having to step aside all G2’s business matters for the next 10 days, I accepted and flew in the next day. What I realized is that my short career as a businessman has taught me lots of different values I did not possess before, when I was a player.
I have failed to qualify to LCS in the past, among other reasons, because my last year as a player have been lackluster skillwise. Managing a club for eight hours a day, and training for six hours a day was definitely not enough to keep up with the best in EU of that time (Froggen, Febiven…)
Qualifying for LCS once again has been my dream for the past couple of years, and having the chance to do it as a last minute coach, versus the club that grew alongside me, with a 2-3 ending result was almost poetic and hard to imagine any better.
I wanted to feel once again how it feels to qualify for LCS, and I felt it fully, despite not being in the driver seat. I feel lucky and blessed I could have this feeling again. Hence why I’m going all in with G2. It’s a matter of passion.
So is it likely we’ll be seeing a return to the business side rather than you being back on the LCS stage behind the players?
I have never left the business side, and I’m positive never will. Even when I was a player, I enjoyed negotiating my contracts, deals with partners, read books about entrepreneurship and marketing. This is single handedly the thing in life I enjoy the most. Competing wherever, but competing. I doubt I’ll be coaching anytime soon unless it’s both for a short time and beneficial for G2 players.
And what will be your goal in that first LCS split next year? A lot of teams come out and say “we’re aiming to win immediately” but do you feel that’s a realistic short term goal, or something to build up to?
G2’s goal in League of Legends this year is to keep learning from our mistakes while we try to put together a winning team that can aspire to more than just avoiding auto-relegation.
Moving onto CS:GO, you recently picked up what was formerly Team Kinguin. How long was that team on your radar and how exactly did the deal go down now that you’re partnered with Kinguin, did you pay for their individual buyouts or come to an agreement with Kinguin that involved a partnership?
Team Kinguin was under our radar since we parted ways with our previous CS:GO team, the Polish one. We knew that our next team needed to be exceptional. That’s why we leaned to Team Kinguin: a diverse, dynamic, packed with big talent and hunger for success lineup. This mix is the DNA of G2.
As we started talks with Kinguin, we slowly managed to line up our visions and expectations. Kinguin as a top game retailer, wanted the team to be managed by a capable club. After agreeing on a low six-figure transfer fee and a long term-high commitment cooperation between our companies, the announcement would just be a matter of timing. Fortunately for us, we planned the announcement to be official after Gaming Paradise, where the team accomplished their first offline title. Very happy.
Off the back of the teams success at Gamers Paradise, what is your next target? You’re already qualified for the major, do you think you will be putting up a serious challenge for the trophy?
When you look at the guys’ eyes, or when you have a conversation with any of them, you can clearly see they want to be World Champions. They don’t go easy on themselves. They are angry and hungry. I don’t think anybody can stop these guys to eventually start winning majors.
So what does the future hold for Gamers2 as an organization following the huge success of the LoL team and the pickup of one of the top CSGO teams in the world?
We will go through a rebranding process. A new logo with new energy is on the way. We are leaving behind the word “Gamers”, as it really feels kind of cheesy and off, leaving us with “G2” as it is.
We understand our current colors and logo shape suggest different than what we really want to portray, that’s why we feel this rebranding is optimal.
It has been a major goal for us to become a world class esports club and I believe our hard work has paid off and we have finally accomplished that goal. During the last 12 month we made significant progress in shaping our internal organizational structure and processes as well as improving our content output and team infrastructure. We were also lucky to have picked up some great key staff in 2015 that have become the backbone of G2.
This here and right now is the inflection point for our club.
It is the time where our ambition and continuous effort is being rewarded with the level of public recognition that characterizes a world class esports club.