The growth of League of Legends has been a massive boon for Australia's burgeoning esports scene, not just for the injection of players into competitive gaming but also the increased teams and organisations that have formed around it.
That growth continued yesterday in a massive way, with ASUS directly investing in their first gaming house anywhere in the world. And it's located in Lidcombe, 20 kilometres west of Sydney.
It's not the first house designed to help a group of gamers elevate their passion into a professional pursuit. It's not the first house for a League of Legends team in Australia; Hellions gave Junglist a tour of their place in Olympic Park a few weeks ago.
But no group of gamers in Australia has moved into a house and received this level of corporate backing before. And no team in the world has had this amount of direct support from ASUS, according to their local representatives. It's been officially branded the ASUS ROG Gaming House, with the tenants being the members of the Oceanic Pro League's current leaders, Legacy Esports.
Each of the bedrooms is marked with a plaque indicating which member lives inside
The rent for the house is coming out of Legacy's budget, with ASUS confirming to me (after some confusion) that they are contributing product and "a small amount of quarterly sponsorship assistance to cover household upkeep". A change brought in by Riot themselves has also indirectly helped, with teams and players receiving their match fees as invoiced rather than in a lump sum at the end of each split.
Everything's decked out to provide the most optimal practice environment. There's a room with a couch and a backdrop specifically for streaming and broadcasting that can also be converted into a lounge area where the whole team can review matches (or watch a movie) together. The dining room was decked out with 10 PCs, banners and placards for the event, but once things are rearranged for a normal living environment there is ample space for eating, playing and elbow room for five players.
Most of those players have had to sacrifice friends and family to be in the house, however, with four members relocating from interstate. Their team manager Michael Carmody confirmed that there were clauses in their contracts that would facilitate what he neatly described as an "exit strategy". If someone's performance isn't up to scratch, they'll be shown the door, and that situation has been made fully aware to everyone going in.
I sat down and had a long chat with Carmody about how the house got established and the business behind getting a team house in Australia. You'll see more of that interview later. But for now, I'll leave you with his prediction: in a year's time, more and more teams will move into their own team houses to catch up.