Nicolas Maurer - "It will be very interesting to see Renault do activations [in Brazil and China]"

The CEO and co-founder of Team Vitality spoke to GINX at Enstone during the Team Vitality x Groupe Renault F1 Esports event about the partnership and the future for French esports.
Nicolas Maurer - "It will be very interesting to see Renault do activations [in Brazil and China]"

After an initial two years together, Renault and Vitality will continue their partnership through 2020 and 2021.

With improvements in F1 and Rocket League seeing Vitality reach new heights after Renault's input and support, the renewed collaboration will seek to continue this trend.

Nicolas Maurer provided more information about the expanded partnership, what he hopes will be achieved in the future and the unique place Vitality has in European esports.


Now that Team Vitality have renewed their partnership with Renault, is it fair to say that unique partners are hugely important alongside the more prolific brands in esports?

Absolutely true. I think it's one of the areas where we are kind of unique as we have several non-endemic brands that put in a lot of resources and help us go mainstream. It's exactly the sort of partnership we want to build where there is a story behind it.

We know it takes time for a brand like Renault to understand the opportunity of esports, what they can bring to the table when it comes to performance which is a key area of the partnership and how to reach the new demographic.

Of course you find everything you would normally find in a traditional partnership with branding, contracts, money involved, but there's more than that. It's not about telling a story in that sense, it's about how we can use the resources meaningfully to improve our performance whch is one of the big trending topics in the esports industry.

It's about transitioning away from the old model of just training and trying to understand from professional sports. What is a healthy lifestyle, how do you effeciently train and how do you put resources into mental coaching as well as physical coaching.

That's something we want to do anyway, but when we have a partner that can specialise and bring their resources and expertise, it's a perfect opportunity to tell that real story and it is way better.


And the partnership is now going to expand beyond F1 and Rocket League into all of the other Vitality teams going forward?

Yeah, that's correct. When we started with Renault, we tried to find the best entry for them. They were keen on doing Formula 1 esports of course, but we immediately told them that it was the obvious esport to start but it was very niche. A lot of the F1 esports audience is their traditional audience that already know Renault, already follow Formula 1.

Rocket League was interesting to begin with because it is a game everyone understands and has the vehicle component, so that was a good start to the partnership, but at this time we had it as as a co-branded team on top of that they were at the lowest level of partnership for the whole team.

Renault was an official supplier of Team Vitality and were on every jersey, but we didn't meaningfully activate on League, Counter-Strike, Hearthstone and Rainbow Six.

Now what we want to do is use those games to reach new territories. For example the Counter-Strike team going to China, will be going to the next Major in Brazil, it will be very interesting to see Renault do activations there.

We also want to do a lot of activations on League of Legends. That's where we want to expand the partnership.


Renault has clearly worked to understand the esports space. With certain themes present in games like Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six, it is harder to bring in and convince companies to sponsor those teams?

It varies on a brand-by-brand basis but there can be a challenge. Our partners completely understand that the appeal of Counter-Strike is not the violence, it's a game of skill with confrontation between two prepared teams.

Sometimes at the top of those organisations the CEO or CMO can be wary of terrorism and we can understand that. Even if there is an understanding that violence isn't the key part, it can still be an issue for big brands that need to control how their brand is used.

I think it's something that is evolving over time and is less and less of a challenge. When it comes to Renault, they are not afraid of putting their brand into Counter-Strike competition so we love that!


Renault is French, Vitality is a French organisation and you have a strong French identity. While there are 13 other nationalities playing for Team Vitality, is that French aspect especially important for you?

[Renault] is a perfect fit. French brand, winning internationally, same colours. We are pretty aligned on that vision.

The French DNA is key to us. Very early in our development and the growth of Vitality, we understood that we are not here to win a French championship. It's good but we want to compete internationally, winning European championships, world championships when its relevant.

That always has been the ambition, but we keep this French DNA and we have this unique position where we dominate a home market. No one else is doing that to that extent in Europe. We want to use this local presence and build on that to then have the international recognition.


You have the V-Hive and your headquarters in Paris and Worlds 2019 concluded in the city too. Do you think Paris has the potential to grow into an esports hub as Berlin has done?

I'd say Paris is not there yet, but it will be. There is a strong will and resources have been put in by Paris City Hall.

If you look at the League of Legends finals, you might wonder why they hosted the event in a 16,000 capacity arena when very often it's more. It could have been more when we see 600,000 people connecting to get tickets.

It's just that City of Paris did a huge push to welcome the event, doing the village at City Hall, so a lot of resources and communication done by Paris. The city itself wants to be a hub for esports so there is this desire from the politicial leadership there.

From having big events to a big team like Vitality, it's a perfect situation to be in for us.