Separating Work and Play: An Inside Look at Team Liquid’s Alienware Training Facility EU

Team Liquid has become the first esports organization to construct training facilities on two continents with the same title sponsor for both. The newly opened Alienware Training Facility EU sits just outside of downtown Utrecht, Netherlands (where Team Liquid was originally founded roughly 20 years ago).

Team Liquid and Dell’s gaming PC brand Alienware have had a partnership for nearly 10 years, and the brand first became the title sponsor of Team Liquid’s North American facility in 2018. Team Liquid Senior Partnerships Manager Jason Lucas Lujickx began looking for a facility in Europe that same year, with Alienware once again coming aboard as title partner. Having learned from two years spent in its first facility, Lujickx explained how his team incorporated the title sponsor more into the design of the facility this time around.

“The North America training facility feels very Team Liquid, with the big Alienware letters. The Training Facility EU, if you look at the final imagery, a lot of the design elements are incorporated from the Alienware design language. So I think it really feels like Team Liquid, but also Alienware.” He said that the colors, lighting, and even the shape of the desks are all designed to evoke the Alienware brand.

Team Liquid has also brought over its in-house content creation strategy, establishing 1Up Studios EU (a European division of its content creation brand) which Lujickx said will enable the organization to not only create more content with its EU-based teams, but to develop content specifically for different languages and regions within Europe.

“Working closely with the team, we’ve now been able to address their end-to-end operations with an expanded portfolio of Dell and Alienware hardware solutions that exceed their needs as a leader in esports,” Bryan De Zayas, global marketing director at Dell Technologies told The Esports Observer. “Beyond just their excellence in esports competition, Team Liquid continues to grow as a veteran small business within the gaming industry.

Additionally, we outfitted a full server room at the AWTF EU which guarantees blazing internet speeds through 2x 10GB fiber connections—crucial for competitive play. The Dell Technologies server room will serve as the facility’s beating heart and support Team Liquid’s ongoing IT, engineering, web development and storage needs for years to come.” 

While the facility works to serve its title sponsor, it’s primary function is to provide Team Liquid’s European players with a competitive edge. The organization fields teams in a wide array of games, spread across North America and Europe. While its Santa Monica facility is home to the Team Liquid League of Legends roster, the organization’s Dota 2, Valorant, and Rocket League squads are all based in Europe.

Team Liquid Senior Talent Manager Brittany Latanzio said that the organization collected feedback from players at the Santa Monica facility about all aspects of the design and worked to improve them for Europe. Everything from lighting to room size to air conditioning and climate control was built to allow players to best focus on their practice. Additionally, the facility has an onsite gym as well as full-time chefs. “It’s important for routine,” Latanzio said. “They eat at the same time every day and it’s like home-cooked, healthy food.”

Part of that routine is the ability for players to create a clear separation between their personal and professional space and time. Since the early days of esports, the vast majority of players have simply played their practice matches from the same desk, computer, and room where they play games casually (and often the same room where they sleep). As esports grew somewhat more professional, organizations moved their players together into a house where they effectively spent all of their time together under one roof either playing or sleeping.

Now, with the rise of training facilities, esports pros are finally able to actually come to work, practice as they would in a traditional sport at the facility, and then leave at the end of the work day. In the short time they have been in the facility, Latanzio said players are already noticing a difference in having that clear separation.

“[Because of the COVID-19 pandemic] I think we all have an intimate experience with the importance of separating the two spaces. I don’t think the players realized how much of a big difference it made until they started playing here and said ‘you know what, I love that I go into my training room and this is where I focus. My brain goes into gaming mode and I’m focused on strategy, I’m focused on the coach. And when I leave the room I know that it’s me time and I know I can relax.’”

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