On October 29th, Minnesota RøKKR was the latest Call of Duty League franchise to be officially announced. To dig into the franchise’s unique name, logo, and colours, Esports Insider spoke with Brett Diamond, Chief Operating Officer at WISE Ventures Esports.
ESI: Can you give us a background of the Minnesota RøKKR branding?
Brett Diamond: We looked at a lot of different names and went through a lot of different paths of potential names tied to Northern themes. We looked at themes around the Northern lights, Aurora Borealis, and other themes that play in our region. We started to zero in on a path related to Norse mythology. We wanted to create a subtle tie to the Minnesota Vikings.
We went down a path of Norse mythology and there were a lot of interesting names that we looked at as part of that. At a certain point, we were looking at several different options and we started to say to ourselves “We want something that’s unique and that isn’t going to be a team name that could exist or would make sense in any other sport, in the NFL, or the NBA, or the NHL.”
We didn’t want something that could be a high school mascot. At the same time, we didn’t want to try to get too cute with it and think that we were going to come up with the next OpTic Gaming or any of these iconic names in esports. You can’t just snap your fingers and have that happen.
We wanted something that was unique, but we also wanted something that stayed true to those goals that we started out with at the beginning of having something that made sense for this region. Eventually we came to RøKKR and really liked how that played in a lot of different ways.
It’s an old Norse word for Twilight – the moment between day and night when the last light fades beyond the horizon – and we really liked that elemental aspect. It’s associated with Ragnarök and that translates as ‘Twilight of the Gods.’
The logo itself is intended to be this mysterious helmeted figure emerging from the shadows and you’re ready to join the battle of Ragnarök.
“We wanted to tie back to the Vikings, but not be exactly the Vikings.”
ESI: How did you interpret the reaction to the brand when the leak happened a few weeks prior to your announcement?
BD: It was interesting for us to watch as people posted on Twitter and Reddit asking what RøKKR is. You’d see a couple of comments later, somebody would look it up and come back and say “It’s Twilight in an old Norse language.”
It was a little challenging not to be able to jump into the conversation and to share our perspective on it. At the end of the day, it was fun for us to just sit back and watch that conversation happen and watch some of the followers of our Twitter jump in and try to explain it to other people.
ESI: What factors went into deciding the branding?
BD: When you’re doing something like this in a compressed time frame, trademarking plays a big role – probably a bigger role than it does when a traditional sports team is being named. You literally have years if you’re an expansion team in a traditional sports league. All the teams in our league only had a few months to figure out what their names were going to be.
There were a lot of names that we looked at that couldn’t pass the trademark process or where we were advised that they could have passed the trademark process, but not within the time frame that we needed to.
Amazingly, even the ones that we didn’t go with because of trademark issues, there weren’t really any of them that we liked better than this one. RøKKR really jumped out to us early on when we had looked at literally 40 different names that went down different paths.
ESI: How much did the Minnesota Vikings branding inform the branding for this franchise?
BD: Purple being our being our primary colour is a big one, though interestingly, it’s a darker purple than the Vikings have. It’s intended to be a little more intense. We wanted to tie back to the Vikings, but not be exactly the Vikings.
We did have the Vikings’ creative team work with us on this and they’re an incredibly talented group. True North Vikings Creative is what they’re called. We wanted to find that subtle tie-in but we also weren’t going to force it if we didn’t find a name that we liked that had some ties back to the Vikings and back to Norse mythology.
ESI: Are there any hidden references in the branding that you can tell us about?
BD: The blue accent colour is intended to be the moonlight both coming down on the figure and then also lighting it from within with the blue eye. The blue eye is something you’ll see us play into a bit in content. We had some fun with it and that will be something that we can play into on a continuing basis.
“We want to give our players and coaching staff every opportunity to be successful.”
ESI: Off of the topic of branding, what can fans expect to see in the facility you’re putting together?
BD: It’ll open up in January 2020 and will be our headquarters and training facility. We’re looking into the opportunity to build an arena in the same general area that would be a couple of years down the road. We haven’t made any final decisions on that yet but we’re exploring it.
As far as this facility goes, we’re really excited about it. Our players are excited about it too; it was fun to have them in town for a content shoot for our first reveal video a couple of weeks ago. We brought them through to the space and it’s currently under construction. At the time there was pretty much an empty space but we showed them the renderings and where everything will be in the facility itself.
We want to give our players and coaching staff every opportunity to be successful and we really do see that as potentially being something that can make a difference in the success in the game – to have them in Minnesota together training on a daily basis using top-notch facilities. Our hope is by providing the best possible resources, we can put them in the best position to be successful.
ESI: Will this facility be used for other esports activities outside of the Minnesota RøKKR?
BD: Definitely. Our intention is to host events there from time to time, giving high school and college esports clubs the opportunity to come in and play. We’ll likely host watch parties there too. We haven’t figured out the exact details yet but the intention is definitely to make it open – not necessarily open on a daily basis – but open with periodic events for the esports community in the region.
“We view the strength of the amateur scene in Call of Duty as critical to the success of our team and the league as a whole.”
ESI: Will your franchise do much to support the amateur scene, such as hosting open Challenger events?
BD: We view the strength of the amateur scene in Call of Duty as critical to the success of our team and the league as a whole. We’re working through some plans right now and we’re going to be giving those more focus once we get through this period of revealing the brand, but we intend to throw some amateur events.
We’ll host amateur events tied in with our actual home events, but we also want to look at hosting amateur events outside of our home series matches.
ESI: Which franchise do you consider your biggest rival?
BD: Our biggest rival is probably Toronto Ultra at this point. We’ve had a fun, healthy back and forth over who is more ‘north.’ We actually have geography on our side! At the end of the day, they’re a good group in Toronto and we’re having some fun with it. I could see us continuing to play into that as we approach the start of the season.