*This interview was conducted and provided by a guest contributor
Team houses have been a topic of discussion ever since they were introduced in South Korea. Since then, they have been adopted by North American teams as a means to gather all of their players in one location to practice in an efficient manner while also creating a team bond.
With the realities that NA teams are getting more investment and looking to gain any advantage possible at the highest of levels, teams are slowly moving away from team houses and creating facilities for players to travel to in order to get their practice time in, but not all teams have made that move yet.
Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, Support of Counter Logic Gaming, has taken it one step further and recently purchased his own house within the Los Angeles area, opting to invest in his living situation and look further into his future. Biofrost spoke with Inven Global about being a homeowner, team houses in esports, positives of team houses, Korean players moving to NA teams with practice facilities, privacy and public perception of getting his own house.
How is it owning a house? How is it being Lord Biofrost now?
*laughs* I started looking at houses last year in December. I gave myself about two months to look at houses and so when I finally decided on a house, there was a lot of paperwork and I was doing that throughout the off-season, so it was really annoying as far as the process of getting a house.
Also, since I’m Canadian, there’s more paperwork involved and a bunch of stuff you don’t anticipate, so there was more paperwork, the mortgage rate is higher, you have more stress and you’re looking at more mortgage brokers, so that process was aggravating, but now that I have my house, it’s really nice! I go home and it’s like, 'this is my house!' It’s different from renting because any improvements that you make, you know it’s for the long-term.
We’re slowly moving away from team houses to where now players are having their own apartments. Do you think this whole theory of us moving away from team houses is a good thing for esports?
It definitely makes us look more legitimate by having a facility and people going to work from home and there’s a lot of positives from having the separation of work and rest. Let’s say because you’re living in an environment like a gaming house, you’re constantly with your teammates, you’re constantly with your co-workers, so you’re going to be a lot more stressed because, let’s say someone is playing solo queue, then you’re like, 'I have to play solo queue as well, and I feel bad.'
You don’t have a lot of free time and you’re constantly in this enclosed environment, whereas if you had that separation you definitely feel less burnt-out. Adversely, when you’re in a gaming house, it’s easier to have a full commitment to the game because you’re pressured.
Every time you’re on your computer and this other guy is watching anime or playing a different game, he should feel pressured because he’s not playing LoL. That can be unhealthy because it causes burn-out, but at the same time there a positives to it.
What do you think some of the positives are? And also, do you think those benefit the team rather than the player?
From a player standpoint, having this separation is better and more healthy. You can also look at it from the angle that if the player is burnt-out, they’re probably not going to have a good performance anyway, so it’s two-sided.
We’ve already moved away from the gaming house model with CLG having a gaming facility like Team Liquid, but even then TL has kind of a gaming house but not really in that they all live in apartments next to each other. TSM is also moving to a facility model but they might still be living in the same house. Not many teams have started having that separation.
As far as I know, Korea is still operating on the team house level. With that said, do you think Korean players coming over here might feel more lonely? Do you think that’s a struggle for foreign players, like for someone such a Ruin for instance?
Yeah, that can definitely be the case because I actually noticed that first-hand when we went to Korea to bootcamp. Since we were in a hotel 24/7 with each other, we were constantly playing LoL, constantly talking about the game, you end up talking more with each other because you’re in this enclosed space doing the same thing for 24 hours every day.
This way, you have more chances to go out and eat whereas over in NA, if you’re at the facility, you can just go home, you don’t have the same opportunities, you might miss out on possible bonding dates with your teammates or doing a movie where you’re just like, 'this movie is coming out, do you want to go see it'? You don’t really get those opportunities as often and those are the things that you’re missing out on.
It’s not a perfect world where you get all of the benefits of team bonding and reducing burn-out and having a healthy NA work balance that people constantly clamor about.
How much of you buying your own house was predicated on privacy? Is privacy a big thing for you?
Not really. Buying a house was a milestone and an investment for me. Even before I bought the house we were already living in separate places and it just happened to be that since my lease was running out, so I decided to buy a house.
Are you concerned that fans or players will think that your focus has shifted from the game to IRL things?
Not really, because when I bought the house, when it was empty for a while, but during the off-season I was doing things that a homeowner would do. Luckily in LoL we have seasons, so during the off-season I could do adjustments, get new furniture, but as a gamer, I’m not at my house that often. I get to my house late at night and my hours are long, so I’m there to basically just sleep.
Obviously I don’t want a single bed in the entire house to just sleep, that’s not ideal. laughs I’m not fully finished decorating, and I don’t want to do that now when I should be focusing on playing.
So...party at your place?
*laughs* No party at my place.