The year is 2012 and 26-year-old Nicolas Maurer is walking through the set of his job in the video and TV industry. There, he stumbles across a 20-year-old named Fabian “Neo” Davide starting his first job.
They exchange conversations and introductions before finding themselves talking about esports for hours on end unbeknownst to both that this would be the beginning of a partnership that would change their lives.
At first, the esports industry was a foreign concept to Maurer, who admits that the conversation between the two was based on Neo’s involvement in the French Call of Duty scene. Even with this lack of industry knowledge, Maurer knew that this was something that had potential. Brimming with excitement and passion for this newfound love for esports, Maurer was lost in the moment. He had very little understanding of the esports industry and no clue on how to start a business with just 10K in euros between himself and Neo. Yet, even with these setbacks, the only thing on their minds was where to start -- they would figure out the rest later.
Fast forward 10 years and their Team Vitality passion project created from a few thousand euros and a dream has now become a successful esports organization that will be one of VALORANT’s 30 partnered teams in the 2023 VALORANT Champions Tour season. Throughout their journey to this point, everything has been a learning experience that has been dictated by one goal: to be better.
On Vitality becoming a partnered VCT team
One of the biggest criticisms toward Team Vitality’s inclusion among the partnered teams was their lack of success and pedigree throughout their tenure in VALORANT to which Maurer agreed.
“When talking about teams that made it into franchising without being at the top, we have to be a part of that,” Maurer said. “While we have won some stuff. It’s true and their criticisms are fair. We didn’t make any VCT LAN events nor did we reach Champions.”
Vitality did finish second in the VALORANT Regional Leagues 2022 Finals, which is basically the championship event for the Tier 2 scene in Europe. Regardless, previous success in VALORANT was not a major factor in Riot Games determining which orgs it wanted to partner with. Riot revealed in a blog post that it sought organizations that shared the company’s values, could engage fans and were building for long-term success.
Team Vitality’s roots are based in first-person shooters, from Call of Duty to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. For Maurer, the genre is something that he believes is integral to Vitality’s identity.
Photo credit: Helena Kristiansson / ESL Gaming via ESPAT
“FPS is a part of our DNA,” Maurer shared as he remembered the deep history of Team Vitality and how it began on the principles of an initial interest in FPS. “After Call of Duty, we picked up a Rainbow Six team and then followed that up with a CS:GO team and have found success in all three of them. Now, we want to transition that love to VALORANT by creating the best lineup possible for success.”
Throughout the years, that passion led to entering a MOBA esport in League of Legends in 2016. Vitality bought Gambit’s slot in the LEC before becoming a franchised partner in the League of Legends European Championship from 2019 onward.
However, even with this previous experience with Riot Games, Maurer revealed that Team Vitality wanted to implement a better structure and build on their previous application.
“In 2018, we had a lot of ideas, but also a clear lack of structure, so we needed to work with a lot of external consultants to create a proper application for the LEC,” Maurer said. “With VALORANT, we were able to create the application with internal resources which is a testament to our growth in four years.”
Photo credit: Riot Games
It was a team effort to create a proper application for the EMEA VALORANT international league. Maurer shared the constant effort put in through multiple divisions of Team Vitality ranging from their directors all the way to their own esports teams to create the application.
Maurer remembers working from his home the day that Team Vitality was officially accepted into the EMEA VALORANT franchised league. He explained that it had been a busy day with back-to-back meetings before he was pinged to read his emails. Soon after, he was hit with a wave of emotions when he saw the letter. He remembers immediately celebrating with all the members at Team Vitality because it had been a sign of their continued growth in esports.
Vitality’s future in esports
From nothing but a dream and their life savings, Maurer and Neo’s dream project of building Team Vitality into a top brand in esports is coming true. The only thing left now is to continue refining that approach as they continue to move upward in the industry.
“The mission of Vitality is very clear. We want to be one of the biggest esports teams in the world,” Maurer said. “We want to be part of all the big esports titles and we have a lot of experience in League of Legends and CS:GO. It just felt right to add VALORANT to that portfolio because it is published by Riot Games and also has the elements that fans love from CS:GO.”
Maurer walks through the V.Hive: Team Vitality headquarters and admires the numerous workers and staff all there working toward the goal of watching Team Vitality grow.
Each and every day, Maurer and the rest of Team Vitality are actively continuing to learn as they move forward in esports. He was earnest about some of the things that Team Vitality could have done better early on. Now, Team Vitality will have an opportunity to continue their growth after becoming a partnered VALORANT team in 2023.
“I think we’re only at the beginning when it comes to VALORANT, and I believe that it has a lot of potentials,” Maurer said. “We’ve only scratched the surface of what VALORANT can achieve, so when it is given an even bigger spotlight, these championship moments will be things that longtime esports fans will remember. There is a lot of potentials to create those experiences and I am excited for the future of VALORANT.”
Team Vitality’s newly franchised VALORANT squad will be part of the VCT 2023 kickoff tournament in February with all 30 franchised teams. Shortly after, the VCT EMEA league will begin on March 26 and come to an end on May 28 as the 10 franchised EMEA teams will compete to represent the region internationally.
Lead photo credit: BLAST Premier