This esports team is competing for a $15 million prize. We talked to its coach and manager about what it takes to build a winning squad.
- Alliance is a European esports team founded by Razer, with squads competing in multiple games.
- Alliance's "Dota 2" team is currently competing in The International, a massive tournament with a $33 million prize pool in Shanghai, China.
- Business Insider spoke with Alliance's CEO and coach Jonathan "Loda" Berg and general manager Kelly Ong about what it takes to build and support a competitive team of professional gamers.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Esports is a burgeoning industry, and only a handful of people can truly call themselves veterans in the world of professional gaming.
Jonathan "Loda" Berg is the CEO of Alliance, a Swedish esports team sponsored by major companies like Twitch, Monster, and Razer. But before he was an executive, Loda was considered one of the world's best "Dota 2" players. In 2013, the same year Alliance was founded, Loda led the team to victory at The International, the annual "Dota 2" championship hosted by Valve Software, the game's developer.
Now six years later, Alliance has new roster of young players to competing for a $33 million prize pool at The International, with Loda as the coach. The tournament's prize pool is more than 10 times larger than it was when Loda won, and it's being hosted in Shanghai, China for the first time this year. The winning team will walk away with $15 million, but Alliance's progress in the tournament so far means it'll leave with at least $501,545 in prize money.
Alliance has also added new players to compete in games like "Fortnite," "Super Smash Bros. Melee," "League of Legends," and "Call of Duty." Alliance general manager Kelly "kellymilkies" Ong has more than 10 years of experience in competitive gaming and helps manage logistics, social media, and other day-to-day matters for the rapidly-expanding team.
Business Insider spoke with Loda and Ong about what it takes to build and support an esports team, how professional gamers can transition to new jobs when their careers end, and what it takes to win on the biggest stage in competitive gaming.
Loda led Alliance to victory at The International in 2013, when the prize pool was $2.9 million. Back then, he thought he was too competitive to be a coach.
As a coach, Loda wants Alliance's players to learn from his experiences.
Players on Alliance's "Dota 2" team hail from Sweden, Germany, and Norway, and the oldest player is 25.
Loda prioritized aggressive players who could "think outside the box," while recruiting for Alliance.
Alliance General Manager Kelly Ong organizes the team's travel and business affairs when they're not playing. She scheduled the team in Shanghai two weeks early for The International.
"if you want them to be the best, you need to provide the best conditions," Ong said of her role as general manager.
Ong works to keep the team's morale high by taking care of all the small things outside of the competition.
"When they come up to you years later, even when they're super, super famous and they still call you mom and give you a hug... it just makes everything worth it." Ong said.
Loda said that professional players who are approaching 30 should consider their role within the industry. Ong mentors two players a year to teach them skills for a new career.
Alliance has secured its place in The International's main event, earning a minimum of $501,545. The team will play its first elimination match on Aug. 20.
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