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OXG Co-Founder: "Ubisoft’s world-class management [...] should encourage fans and players"

Following their acquisition of the Team Reciprocity roster, we spoke to the co-founder of Oxygen Esports to ask about the pickup and the future for the team.

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The old Team Reciprocity roster had a fairly successful 2019, all things considered. After finishing as the top North American team at the 2019 Six Invitational, they went on to secure a third-place finish in their region during Season 9 and a second-place finish in Season 10, qualifying themselves for the Season 10 Finals in Tokoname, Japan.

An eventual joint-third finish here and a runners-up finish in the 2019 US Nationals Finals both situated the team as one of the top teams in their region before a somewhat disappointing group-stage exit at the 2020 Six Invitational and a fourth-place finish in North America during Season 11.

These results were then followed by the news that the Reciprocity organisation was putting their team up for sale as a part of large scale cutbacks caused by the "astronomical crash in the global financial markets".

As well as a loss of income for the players, this also led to fears that the players would not be invited back to the North American League, after the same issue hit the Evil Geniuses and Luminosity Gaming rosters, causing the organisations to exit and the players to lose their Pro League spots.

This, however, was not the case as the Reciprocity organisation's teams in Rainbow Six, Rocket League and Fortnite were all acquired by the new Boston based organisation of Oxygen Esports five weeks later.

As well as these three games, the organisation also has the top-ranked team in the 2018 Hearthstone season and a Magic: The Gathering lineup, both of which they acquired off of the old Team Genji lineup.

We spoke to the co-founder of Oxygen, Murph Vandervelde, about the creation of Oxygen, their move into Rainbow Six and what the future holds for players:

Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your role within Oxygen?

My name is Murph Vandervelde and I am one of the Co-founders of Oxygen Esports. I am also one of the Co-founders of Helix eSports. Helix eSports owns and operated two of the five biggest gaming centers in the US including the largest esports center in the country, 10 minutes outisde of NYC and our recently announced third centre in partnership with Kraft Spors & Entertainment at Patriot Place (attached to Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots NFL team.).

The Helix eSports facility which acts as the Official practice facility of the Boston Uprising OWL team.

How did Oxygen Esports form?

Oxygen Esports is the culmination of strategic mergers between Helix eSports, one of the nation's leading provider of esports/VR centers, Team Genji, a leading provider of esports analytics and pro rosters acquired from Team Reciprocity.

The Helix and Genji merger was in the works before the Oxygen Esports announcement. Helix eSports operates a venture capital arm where Team Genji was one of our first investments. The merger made sense as we felt Helix could provide better experiences for our players in the center and create a more transparent amateur to pro pipeline by leveraging Genji’s software and analytics.

The Reciprocity addition can be attributed to the diligent work of another Co-Founder of ours, Adam Morrison, who actually was an original founder of Team Rec. We saw an attractive opportunity to acquire the rosters from Rec and rebrand Genji’s existing teams into a new organization that now competes at the highest level across five titles.  

What does the future of Rainbow Six look like to you?

The future is really bright… Ubisoft’s world-class management and dedication to the new league format should encourage fans and players everywhere. In order to justify such an expansive investment in the esports space it must mean Ubisoft has amazing things coming for the game at a global level.

We are super excited to be one of the eight teams in the US Division to partner with Ubisoft to help grow the game and further establish R6S as a premier esport.

What kind of support will your new Rainbow Six roster enjoy?

Our new roster is going to enjoy a great deal of support. We are ironing out our sponsors as we speak which will afford the players the best gaming equipment and lifestyle brands outside of competition to keep them looking fresh. We have some exciting developments around our software analystics to help the players analyse replays and hone their skills to gain a competitive edge.

Finally, with the four other titles (and more to come) we will provide them full access to content teams to create great R6S content and some crossover content with our other games. As the organisation continues to level up and evolve we will continue to provide unique experiences for all players on the Oxygen Esports roster.

What are your goals within Rainbow Six?

Ha, this is easy. Win as many games as possible and win Ubisoft’s first US Division championship as well as every major. In all seriousness though we are here to be as competitive as possible but are also excited to work with Ubisoft to grow the game and the league.

With such a dedicated fan base, rich game IP and dedication from the publisher there are so many great things to come. In line with our strategy around being region-based, we’d love to see a Rainbow Six Siege homestand on the east coast, similar to what the Overwatch League has done.

Also, with the Helix centers we’d love to find ways to engage fans and the amateur community to augment the already thriving scene. 

LaXInG at the 2019 US National Finals.

Your org also picked up Reciprcoity’s Rocket League and Fortnite teams. What are your overall goals for the organization?

We are excited to build out the first vertically integrated esports organization. By competing at the highest level in 5 titles that gives us the top of the industry, which is critical to our strategy, but we believe the real value is leveraging our existing centers and talent identification analytics to make our teams better. We believe that we can provide great experiences for our center patrons with the Oyxgen rosters, identify the next esports star with our talent identification software and then fuel Oxygen’s rosters with marketable, local talent groomed at Helix facilities. 

Similar to the success the Bull’s saw with the triangle offense in basketball, we believe our triangle, professional roster, analytics and physical centers, will be our keys to success.

As for the future, we are always hungry to expand and will move into games where we feel the publisher is looking to partner with organizations to drive success and that make economic sense to our players, fans and investors. 

Can we expect any upcoming roster changes before the kick-off of the NAL?

We do not plan on making any changes, we are thrilled by the team’s performance in the Gamer’s Without Borders event and think we are poised to win it all once league play starts! 

Since joining the Oxygen organisation, the team has played in just the Gamers Without Borders charity event where they defeated eUnited 5-1, 5-2, 6-4, and donated their $150,000 winnings to the charity "Direct Relief", which "works in the U.S. and internationally to equip doctors and nurses with life-saving medical resources to care for the world's most vulnerable people".

Oxygen Esports' next game will presumably be when the US Division of the North American League kicks off in approximately a month's time, with the following roster:

Davide "FoxA" Bucci
Gabriel "LaXInG" Mirelez
Franklyn "VertcL" Andres Cordero
 Spencer "Slashug" Oliver
Khalil "b1ologic" Pleas
Anthony "HOP3Z" (coach)
Taylor "Redeemer" Mayeur (coach)