Team Queso CEO on Clash Royale League and Expanding Beyond Mobile
Spanish organization Team Queso began its esports journey in mobile, and that kind of focus has helped it thrive in the space even as larger organizations have entered. Queso won the European region in the first Clash Royale League season and competed in Tokyo last weekend at the World Finals. Additionally, Team Queso’s Arena of Valor squad qualified for the Valor Series finals in Sao Paulo, Brazil last month.
Mobile sits at the core of Team Queso and will continue to do so, according to CEO Alvaro “Alvaro845” Gonzalez, but the organization is building off of that success and seeking new opportunities in games heavily dominated by longer-established competitors. Within the last few months, Queso has entered both Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive , which Gonzalez sees as an opportunity to expand the org and rack up crucial experience along the way.
During the Clash Royale League World Finals, The Esports Observer spoke with Gonzalez about Team Queso’s recent expansion and plans for 2019, how its CRL success aids with recruiting sponsors, and how the organization’s mobile focus helps it outpace larger rival teams.
“Our focus on mobile has helped a lot.”
Cooking Up Success
Team Queso sat atop the European region this CRL season, besting teams like G2 Esports and Team Liquid in the standings. Founded in February 2017, Team Queso is not only smaller than a lot of the other organizations in the League, but also much younger. That didn’t stop them from taking the region in a game that’s been central to Queso for much of its existence.
“Everything has been great,” said Gonzalez about the inaugural CRL season. “We were selected by Supercell to compete among all of these Tier 1 organizations just because of the community we created in Clash Royale. It has been great to face those big orgs and beat them in Europe, and be here to represent the region.”
Team Queso may not be as expansive of an organization as some others in the league, but its core focus on mobile gaming helps make the difference, Gonzalez said. Clash Royale isn’t a freshly-added appendage for the team, but rather the heart of its success to date.
“The future is for mobile esports. That is my belief.”
“Our focus on mobile has helped a lot,” he said. “For most of the other organizations, Clash Royale and mobile in general are like a separate branch or new division—small in comparison to the big PC games. For us, it’s just the core, and we put so much effort into mobile.”
Gonzalez believes that 2018 has been a good year for mobile esports, citing the growth of the CRL and Arena of Valor‘s Valor Series—but a disappointing year for newly-released mobile esports games. He said that Clash Royale creator Supercell’s new competitive game, Brawl Stars (out next week), could be a compelling esport title, but that they’re looking for additional mobile games to release and start developing esports scenes.
This year also saw the dissolution of Team Queso’s Vainglory team, following the lead of other organizations like Cloud9 and Gankstars . After shifting from a 3v3 mode to the more complex 5v5 offering, the full-fledged Vainglory Premier League never got off the ground. Super Evil Megacorp has tried filling the void with smaller competitions, but the lack of a proper league has driven out many organizations that can’t afford to sponsor teams without steady, high-level events and sizable prize pools.
“We kept the division for a few months, but at the end, with the 5v5 in Vainglory, there was no clear path for esports—so we decided to leave as well,” said Gonzalez. “We might come back once we see a clear project for esports.”
Even with the disappointment of Vainglory’s fading esports momentum, Team Queso has seen success in the mobile space this year between the CRL and Arena of Valor. Gonzalez believes that the future for mobile esports is simply too bright to ignore.
“The future is for mobile esports. That is my belief,” he said. “If you compare to the number of PC gamers and smartphones or tablets, there is a factor of four or five. In some way, someone should be able to develop an esport on mobile that’s four or five times bigger than PC esports—at least, that’s my belief. I don’t know if that’s Clash Royale or another game, but being focused on mobile since the very beginning, I think it’s important. Even though right now, our main challenge is to go farther than mobile.”
Team Queso first expanded outside of mobile in June by signing five Fortnite players. The team sees this as a bigger content play than a competitive one for now, given Epic Games’ evolving esports efforts in the space, so Queso has been producing content from its team house in Madrid.
“2019 for us is the year to expand to PC, and to prove that we can compete with Tier 1 organizations…”
At the end of October, Team Queso also introduced its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, which competes in ESL Masters and Superliga Orange and hopes to qualify for a Minor as the squad gels together and improves. For Gonzalez and Queso, that’s an unfamiliar space, but it’s also a valuable and welcome learning experience. “For us, it’s just a process of learning PC divisions,” he said. “We started just one month ago.”
Currently, Team Queso has two primary sponsors: Razer and Telepizza. Razer sponsors a number of teams, especially those with a mobile focus—which makes sense given its Razer Phone hardware. Telepizza, on the other hand, was a significant non-endemic pickup, as the Spanish pizza chain hadn’t previously made any moves in esports. A recent merger with Pizza Hut could lead to international expansion of Queso’s three-year partnership, as well.
“The deal with Telepizza is super important for us. Right now, it’s probably our main sponsor,” said Gonzalez. “With Telepizza, we are focusing in the original market of Spain, but they are also interested in the international factor, because they very recently merged with Pizza Hut. It would be the same group. That means that our org has to consolidate our position in Spain, but also we need to expand and internationalize ourselves in Europe and NA.”
“If you want to get good sponsorship deals, you are competing with big organizations.”
The visibility of their CRL success has led to talks with other sponsors, Gonzalez said, although no further deals have been announced yet. Expanding into larger, PC-centric esports opens the doors to more sponsors, he suggested, but also creates the sizable challenge of competing with teams that have more resources and wider-ranging fan bases. That’s why taking these first steps into games like Fortnite and CS:GO is so important for Team Queso.
“If you want to get good sponsorship deals, you are competing with big organizations,” he said. “For that, we need more influence, so with our way and our philosophy to make things, we need to expand to more games and to be a successful organization to compete for those deals.”
Next year could be a critical one for Team Queso, as it attempts to build upon its mobile success and try to find positive results in PC-based esports games, as well. Entering more games means expending additional resources and requiring further investment or sponsorships, but Gonzalez is confident that they are making the right steps for Team Queso’s future.
“2019 for us is the year to expand to PC, and to prove that we can compete with Tier 1 organizations not only on mobile, but also on PC,” he said. “For us, it’s just to move and to grow ourselves and open new divisions, which internally means a lot of things: more people for management, staff, and so on. It’s a really challenging year, but hopefully we can get a few more investors and sponsors.”
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