Game On!

The rise of Team Dignitas – a decade in the making

Anna Cheng Writer

Intel had been sponsoring the 4Kings, a well-known professional organisations, since they won the Intel Masters Gaming Championship in 2002 and just announced its first season of the globally acclaimed Intel Extreme Masters. Dreamhack, became the largest gaming festival in the world, surpassing 8,500 connected computers in the LAN setting a new Guinness world record. And it was in the year 2006 when Team Dignitas first crossed paths with Intel at the inaugural and only World Series of Video Games tournament held in London.

 Team Dignitas is the brain child of Michael “ODEE” O’Dell

Known well in the professional gaming world, Team Dignitas is the brain child of Michael “ODEE” O’Dell who is credited for registering the company back in 2004. He managed to interest Intel with his easy going attitude and his ability to work well with corporate sponsors without alienating their fans. The decision to move sponsorship from 4Kings to Dignitas wasn’t made easily, but by April 2007, Team Dignitas players were seen at tournaments sporting Intel logos on their team jerseys.  It was the start of the longest standing relationship for both companies and enabled O’Dell to take on management full time.

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“I remember I was at work when I got a call with Intel to come down to Swindon to meet,” recalls O’Dell. At the time Team Dignitas had squads in only a handful of games, totalling roughly 25 players. “I had to take a day off to go, and I remember sitting in there discussing the deal, it was surreal.  After that, I told my wife, ‘we picked up Intel, mind if I leave my job?’ and that was that.  But it changed everything and gave us the credibility and the finances to do more.”

The role of Twitch in the evolution of eSports

Up until recently, eSports had been happily living in a small but growing community. The internet was a bourgeoning playground that wasn’t for everyone. In 2007, nearly 40% of UK household didn’t have internet connectivity, YouTube was available in nine countries, and Twitch, a live streaming gaming platform, didn’t exist.  Live commentators better known as shoutcasters had become a mainstream staple at tournaments, but work was limited and hardly anyone was employed full time.  “There were only a handful of shoutcasters back in those days,” says Stuart “TosspoT” Saw, a part time shoutcaster since 2002, now the European Director at Twitch. “Most did it in the form of internet radio at night and on weekends as they were employed or full time students.  And that’s really changed over the last 10 years I’ve been involved.  Twitch has really enabled eSports you see today, providing a way to bring the content to growing audience and to help monetize and lay a solid foundation for the industry.”

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With the rise of live streaming and new ways to connect to the internet, eSports has entered a second golden age over the last few years. Team Dignitas has evolved with the times as well, logging over 800,000 viewer hours of live content per month. Today, with over 500 players that have worn the Dignitas logo since it became an official team, the line-up of stars makes it an organization worth following. “Most of Dignitas’ management are ex-players, many from the original teams,’ says O’Dell. “We want to help new players get to events and show off their talent. It was really hard for us to do that at the beginning. What we are now gives us that ability. And when you got fans that stick with you through the wins and losses, though roster changes, that’s amazing. It’s hard to describe.”

Team Dignitas will bring their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) squad to Jönköping, Sweden after disappointing results at the Electronic Sports World Cup tournament in Paris. The newly formed Danish team is expected to do well against some of the biggest names in CS:GO. If you’re travelling out to Dreamhack Winter 2014, you can come meet them at the Intel booth in Main Hall D. Those that up to the challenge may find themselves competing against them in the Alien Arena Tournament.

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