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Inside Team Liquid’s new EU Alienware training facility: “We want to be the FC Barcelona of esports”

Team Liquid's new facility is a base for EU rosters and an esports hub for the whole region. We speak with COO Mike Milanov and Rocket League player Speed about what it means for Liquid’s future.
Inside Team Liquid’s new EU Alienware training facility: “We want to be the FC Barcelona of esports”

After opening their first Alienware facility in Santa Monica, US, Team Liquid are expanding to better accommodate EU rosters with their new homestead in the Netherlands.

Based in Utrecht, the new facility spans 1060 square meters and resides within the heart of the city - kitted out with 120 Alienware displays, a full-time chef, housing for players, viewing areas for fans and training facilities which can host up to three teams at once. 

While it was originally planned as a high-intensity training hub ahead of major international tournaments, the demand from players changed its ambitions into a full-time operation - with rosters set to reside there for longer stints to focus and improve their game.

The new training facility is in the heart of Utrecht (Pictures: Team Liquid) 

For the organisation, originally founded by Utrecht native Victor Goossens in 2000, this new facility largely represents a full circle moment to celebrate Team Liquid’s 20th anniversary; making a mark on their home turf and solidifying their global ambitions.

“What it means for us is we can continue focus on being a global esport organisation,” Team Liquid’s chief operating officer, Mike Milanov, told GINX Esports TV. “We don’t want to be just a North American org, or just an EU org, or just to have a Brazilian presence as a brand. For us first and foremost, what’s really important is showing off our commitment to training and infrastructure.

“I think the future dream for Team Liquid is we need to continue to focus on competitive. We want to be the FC Barcelona or the Golden State Warriors of esports, and we’re not going to get there by not continuing to invest in training, health, nutrition, sports psychology infrastructure, and career development, mental stability and housing for our various rosters and sports teams. I think it’s a big step for the franchise.”

There's player apartments at the top of the facility (Picture: Team Liquid) 

The focus on health, ranging from on-site chefs and gym facilities, seems to be one of the main draws for players. UK Rocket League pro Jack “Speed” Packwood-Clarke, 19, suffered a downturn in match performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, but believes he’s back on an upswing after staying at the facility for a month. 

“Coronavirus completely knackered my routine at home and my results actually showed,” Speed said. “You could go on any statistic website related to Rocket League, look at my results from February/March just before the virus and then May, and I’ve literally fell off a cliff.

Team Liquid's new Alienware facility

“I really don’t know how to explain it, it was massive. And now being here it’s brought it back up again. I don’t think it’s anything to do with any coaching in-game or anything like that. For me personally, a healthy lifestyle out of game equals good results in-game, and this place makes it very easy for that. 

“I don’t need to cook. All I need to do is my f**king washing and that’s it. Do my washing and exist.”

The demand to use the facility has become an issue within Team Liquid. Since plans started on the facility in 2018, the addition of new European rosters like Valorant and Rocket League in-between has led to tussles over who’s actually using the space - with organisers currently deciding who takes priority at certain times based on tournament schedules. 

The facility however isn’t only for players. There’s plans to offer internships and community projects for students in the local area of Utrecht, something which the organisation couldn’t offer as extensively in their US base due to the less centralised location. 

There's also pods for streamers and Marvel-themed booths (Picture: Team Liquid) 

“In Utrech, we plan to be a very active participant in the city centre and an active participant in the city’s whole infrastructure - whether that’s working with local schools, providing internships or developing knowledge around the industry,” Mike said.

“For us, it’s less about Team Liquid there and more about making sure we’re a great talking point to make the industry look legit and to make the industry be discovered, and not shunned or looked down upon. It has to be a real sport, it has to be a real industry and it has to be a viable career path.”

They aren’t resting on two facilities either, with plans to expand further so their teams around the world have access to the best training equipment. Brazil, a region they’ve invested heavily into since the organisation’s inception, is looking like a potential next candidate. 

There's even Marvel-themed booths (Picture: Team Liquid) 

Asked if there’s plans to build more facilities elsewhere, Mike said: “Absolutely. For us, building a facility has to be a really careful consideration. We’re not just building them whenever we have the funds to do so, or for PR or marketing purposes, there has to be a real need for the org. 

“But also conversely the dream state for Team Liquid - I don’t know how long it would take, two, five, ten years or more - is to have all our professional teams participating in healthy esports ecosystems. So ecosystems like League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Dota 2, Counter-Strike are really healthy ecosystems at the current point in time, so in the future our dream is to have our athletes getting the same housing treatment, nutrition access, access to a chef, physical training and the tech that comes with a state-of-the-art training facility. 

“That is our dream to provide to all of our rosters. So I think you can expect our continued commitment to figure out Brazil since we have people there now, and maybe we do need to figure out Asia in the future. I think those conversations are ongoing, so more to come.”

You can check out more about the facility on their official website