In anticipation of Team Liquid’s newly unveiled European headquarters, Esports Insider was invited for an exclusive tour of the Alienware Training Facility in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Team Liquid’s European Headquarters has been built in a brand-new mixed-use development, just a one-minute walk from the Utrecht Central Train Station, which combines first and second story businesses below several stories of apartments.
The Alienware Training Facility itself is a mixed-use development: hosting Team Liquid player training and housing, staff working spaces, dining and relaxation areas, and eventual plans for a “fan zone.”
The Fellowship of the Org
Many features of the new facility have been imported from their experience designing the original Alienware Training Facility in Los Angeles, California. Such as employing a full-time executive chef, offering three meals a day for all Team Liquid players, coaches, and staff.
In-house culinary offerings, often cited as tech company perks, add to the facility’s holistic environment – aiding in the organisation’s approach to establishing a healthy work-life balance. The priority of the facility is performance, but this emphasis is not only reserved for players – it’s spread across the organisation so that the organisation can perform at its highest level and compliment each aspect of the business harmoniously.
The facility features a Dining Hall and Lounge are for players, coaches, and staff to eat and relax together if they so choose. The facility also offers plenty of options for those that prefer privacy or solitude. Most of the rooms are sound-proofed when the doors are closed, and visiting players and coaches have access to an entire floor totalling in 13 private apartments above the facility.
The lodging above the facility is reserved for bootcamping teams of players and coaches, who may be there for months at a time. Each single-occupant apartment features a private bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, Alienware gaming PC, and sleeping quarters. Furnished with modern necessities, the apartments are intentionally unbranded – allowing visiting players their own private space outside of the training facility in a foreign city.
While the teams of players, coaches, and managers win the trophies in esports, they are supported and funded by the business aspects of the organisation. The two decades worth of trophies on display at the entrance and in the dining hall bring together Team Liquid’s accomplishments in a visceral display of just how many trophies the highest overall earning organisation in esports history has claimed.
Victor “Nazgul” Goossens, Co-CEO of Team Liquid, told Esports Insider that when the planned “fan zone” opens, visitors will be able to look up at this wall of achievements from the street-level shopping and brand partnership experience. Hosting fan-centric events and activations within the facility, also remains a possibility, once the government guidelines around social distancing allow it.
The city of Utrecht has impressive internet connectivity in general, due to its strategic location and the introduction of a Gigabit network this year. Utrecht’s Alienware Training Facility boasts 20-gigabit symmetric connection, all 100% fibre. The organisation worked with its ISP to arrange a custom connection direct to the data centre, without neighbouring reroutes, for the lowest possible latency for the players.
The server is fully physically redundant, thanks to Dell’s high-end server equipment, this helps make sure these speeds actually reach players. Jason Lucas Luijckx, Senior Partnerships Manager at Team Liquid, explained: “We believe the connection will provide our athletes with an advantage, both from a latency and a stability perspective.”
The multi-use aspect of the Alienware Training Facility not only allows for various usage of the space due to the architectural design, expansive space, blistering connection speeds, and bleeding-edge technology provided by the facility’s partners, but also for each aspect of the business to integrate and utilise the space and the equipment to suit their needs and demands of their work.
The business side of the facility features an enclosed Conference Room for physical meetings and Marvel-branded Pods for calls and digital meetings and the Open Office for collaborative and communal work. The Liquipedia development team requested the option to open and close itself off from the other teams, thus the area has been sectioned off by glass gateways. Goossens also has a frosted-glass enclosed office in the midst of the Open Office, where he may choose to enjoy being among the team or in solitude.
Each workstation in the Open Office is adorned with Alienware PC towers, dual-screen displays, HyperX headphones, and Team Liquid customised Secretlab gaming chairs, ensuring that every member of staff is as equipped to be just as much of a powerhouse as the facility is.
On the esports side of the facility features the two dedicated Scrim Rooms. Alienware hardware, illuminated by LED lighting, is housed in a glass casing above each gaming space, also equipped with dual-monitors, HyperX headsets and Secretlab gaming chairs.
Both rooms are soundproof, with individual climate controls with custom mitigated ventilation panels which dispense the air evenly across the entire room – a lesson learned from its LA facility, where the location of the vents offered challenges given player preferences.
Both scrimming areas feature their own replay viewing rooms outfitted with Dell Advanced 4K Laser Projector displays and comfortable seating for teams to review and discuss in a separate environment.
While the various aspects of the org and associated business ventures have different duties for the company, the Alienware Training Center in Utrecht makes it clear that Team Liquid is a cohesive organisation. By moving away from the separate gamer house and office space models and instead thoughtfully combining them under one roof, this decision sets the tone of professionalism across the esports titan.
The Balance of the Org
Amid the futuristic design elements of the facility, there are subtle contrasts of nature within the space. Nature tones amidst stark whites and blacks and various contrasts in intermittent brand colours – there is a calming sense of harmony within the space. This unique dichotomy which flows through the facility of high-tech LED lighting fixtures, natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, woodgrain accenting concrete, an entire wall of lush plant life opposite the Monster Energy refrigerator.
Elements of the brand, logo, team colours, and partnerships all integrate seamlessly into the facility’s architecture. The Conference Room table is in the likeness of a section of the horse’s mane featured in the Team Liquid logo. The Scrim Rooms are named “Lunar Light” and “Dark Side of the Moon” in contrasting colour schemes associated with the lunar theme.
The Alienware aesthetic is merged with Team Liquid’s to elaborate visually the hybridity of the facility. Lights and darks with seductively hued lighting among nature and artistry illustrate an esports performance facility with mixed media.
Between the Conference Room, Scrim Rooms, and the Open Office, are the Marvel Pods, dedicated soundproofed spaces to make calls or have a moment of silence. Each of the three pods features artwork and is named inspired by unique aspects of the Marvel x Team Liquid jersey collaborations: Brooklyn, Sanctum, and The Cage.
The walls in the Liquipedia development team feature the Liquipedia puzzle piece motif, and each contrasting piece features lines of important code that makes the esports database special – selected by the developers themselves.
Behind Goossen’s desk is an artistic mural of his past 20 years of Team Liquid history, featuring images of the brand, his esports beginnings with StarCraft: Broodwar, depictions of the Nazgul from Lord of the Rings movie franchise, which Goossens drew inspiration from for his gaming handle, and the “Flight to the Ford” scene which was inspiration for the Team Liquid logo.
There are also various homages to the facility’s geolocation and Team Liquid’s origins, like the Dutch spelling of ‘Utrecht, Nederland’ prominent on a Team Liquid wall display – serving as a backdrop for the Streaming Pods, featuring branding of their streaming partners: Twitch and HuYa – and Dutch flags at the entrance of the Marvel Pods.
Many of the staff talk amongst one another and conduct business in their native Dutch as well and while Team Liquid is world-renowned as an international esports organisation, it is clear that the European headquarters is proud to be in the Netherlands.
The Alienware Training Facility EU encompasses thoughtful design and great consideration to options. There feels like there is always an option for the door to be open or closed, together or separate, dark or light. Nothing feels out of place. Nothing feels too gratuitous. It feels balanced. Team Liquid’s Utrecht Headquarters perhaps realises that this is what esports can feel like: harmonious.