September 28, 2020

Bootcamping in the Netherlands

Utrecht has been a focal point in esports in the last week thanks to Team Liquid’s new EU headquarters. After more than two years of construction, the Alienware Training Facility is finally getting ready to open its doors. It’s got two fully-equipped scrim rooms, a state of the art gym and kitchen (chef included), 13 apartments for players, and so much more.

That got us thinking. This facility will be a great place for top-tier EU teams to gather and bootcamp, but what about everyone else? What physical spaces do other gamers in the Netherlands have? 

Not many, as it turns out. 

Unlike in South Korea where you can hop into a PC bang to rent a row of PCs for your team, the Netherlands has three styles of bootcamp option: 

  1. Book a room at dedicated sites like H20 or Esports Game Arena
  2. Travel to Belgium to use a gaming cafe
  3. Tell your Support you’re all crashing at his Mom’s place for the weekend

Bootcamps have the opportunity to be logistical nightmares. International players need to be flown in. Benelux players need to travel from every corner of the region, which might mean playing taxi for players in three different cities. And if the bootcamp site doesn’t have PCs on location? That’s five different rigs that need to travel too. 

That doesn’t even take into consideration factors like food, sleeping arrangements, and budgets.

With all that in mind, dedicated centres like H20 and Esports Game Arena are the simplest option. Both have PCs and food on site. They’re dedicated gaming centres, businesses created around the highest standards for esports and gaming.

Both locations, however, are based in a central part of the country. If you plan on taking the train from Groningen, you’re looking at six hours to Esports Game Arena and back. 

Meanwhile, Belgium has access to locations like Meltdown and Outpost. They’re imperfect solutions, with the lack of privacy as one of the major drawbacks. But the equipment is already on site and they have locations in Brussels, Gent, and Antwerp, meaning they’re accessible to most people.   

So H20 is too far away and there’s no cafe. What are you left with? A classic home LAN, of course. If you’re really lucky, someone has a house that can sleep five or more players, with an enormous table for five PCs, and can convince their family to leave the house for 72 hours. But when you suddenly discover that your internet can’t handle six computers at once, the party is over. RIP bootcamp.

The Netherlands needs more resources. The industry is growing, but we’re just not there yet. People in the esports community see the gap, and there are new initiatives like Outplayed setting up shop. But it’s still not close to home. 

When do we start to catch up? When do NL teams get more of the resources they deserve?