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MnM Gaming Founder: "I would like more transparency in planning [from Tournament Organisers]"

Ahead of their CL Final and SI Qualifier run, we spoke to the founder of MnM Gaming to ask about the orgsanisation's continued success and their role in growing the UK scene.

MnM Gaming Founder: "I would like more transparency in planning [from Tournament Organisers]"

MnM Gaming has been a staple in the European scene for the last two years through the British national tournaments, the Challenger League, and a number of regional events. In this time, the org has had three very successful teams which won two national leagues, the Challenger League, and almost qualified for the Six Invitational with the current lineup positioned in the Challenger League finals and just one game away from the 2021 EU League.

Ex-MnM players include CTZN from G2 Esports, Doki, Kendrew, Saves and Blurr from Na'Vi, the ex-Na'Vi player of neLo, pacbull from Secret, and the Cowana player of Kayak. As well as this, the ex-support staff includes the eUnited's old coach of Bugs, and the current coaches of Giants Gaming (GiG) and Rogue (rcuth). All this talent has been brought up from various tier-three teams via the MnM Gaming organization. 

Now, the team themselves have attracted a lot of attention as, after knocking Chaos, G2, Vitality, and the current Secret roster out of last year's Six Invitational qualifiers, the team has picked up the ex-Secret (the British lineup) player of Fonkers and the ex-Millenium coach of Sparxo to inject experience into the team.

As well as being crowned the British champions ahead of Na'Vi last August, the team topped their group during the Challenger League and will soon play against Cowana in the CL Finals for a 2021 EU League position. Before this, later this week we'll see the team in action alongside Rogue, Secret, Vitality, Chaos, Cowana, and 10 qualified teams in the SI qualifiers as they hope to go two games further than last year and qualify for the event.

We spoke to the organization's founder of Kalvin "KalKal" Chung to ask what makes the org so special to be able to thrive so well in tier-two to three R6S and what is next for the org:

Firstly, can you introduce yourself and your role to readers?

I am Kalvin or KalKal and I am the founder and director of MNM Gaming. We're a small team at MNM with my brother and me being the main core that holds MNM together so my brother, Daniel, and I have to be a jack of all trades to ensure the company keeps going.

I mainly focus on teams, social media, and creative direction for the brand and assets. I enjoy getting to know players from all walks of life because you learn so much from bringing different people and cultures together into a team. The brand of MNM is also really important to work on and ensure that we represent values that are true to ourselves and players and create assets that reflect that. Our MNM jersey was something that we definitely put a lot of as it represented diversity and our heritage and we wanted the players to wear something that has a strong message (though with how 2020 has gone, our jerseys won't be worn on stage anywhere soon).

What's the secret of the organization's continued success?

I have been really fortunate to meet and come across some of the nicest, hardworking and talented people in the world. We have had a lot of success in other titles as well with previous players going to LEC, OWL, and so on. I would like to say that I am just very lucky to come across the right people and that mix of luck with intuition has led to the right decision-making when it comes to finding the right players and teams. Obviously, I have made many mistakes too but that is all part of the road to success.

Behind the scenes I have support from my brother, family, and other members of MNM. This honestly makes it an enjoyable and supportive environment to work in and I believe that is a big secret to MNM's success. We are always open to criticism because that is important to constant improvement for our brand, processes, and experience. 

When searching for a new lineup, what's the recruitment process like for MnM in R6 and elsewhere?

I have been asked this question a lot and honestly, it is just talking to players and seeing how they are. When you break down the recruitment process, the bottom line is teams and players want to prove they are the best and that they should be picked up. I believe it's a matter of identifying not only the best talent but also the right mentality. There are many players that have raw talent but might not have the right mindset to either work in a team environment or hone their skills over time. It has been proved countless times that all-star teams don't necessarily work because there could be clashes in the team environment, so finding a team of 5 talented individuals who are hungry to grow and improve and create an environment that allows their teammates to grow too. 

Another Ubisoft title we are part of is Nadeo's Trackmania and that is mostly a 1 person team racing game. Ultimately although he is the best player in the UK, top 3 in the world, the reason we decided to work together is that we understood and respected each other. Pac enjoys being part of MNM and I enjoy every conversation I have with him on a weekly and daily basis. Talent, mentality, vision, and even friendship are important when finding the right teams and players to represent MNM, also we must not forget that MNM also represents them and this two-way street is important to remember.

As one of the few orgs which seem to be truly thriving in tier two/three R6S, are there any changes you'd like to see at this level?

In recent years we've really nailed what MNM stands for and what our brand is, and I think that is key in getting the right sponsors and partners. Our current main games are Ubisoft's Rainbow 6, Ubisoft's Trackmania, and Riot Games' League of Legends. Some organizations expand either too slowly or too quickly into other games but we've ensured that we have set the targets for our ventures and the appropriate time, energy, and funding.

I would like more transparency in planning. Sometimes organizers do involve is in talks about their plans and goals for the coming year but that isn't consistent in every tournament. I also encourage other teams to do more, in UKIN Navi are big by nature and promote UKIN significantly but at MNM we put a lot of effort into our content and constant promotion of qualifiers, Division 2 and we weren't afraid to talk about other teams or casters.

I think it is safe to say if we remove Navi from the equation MNM contributes a lot to the social media presence of UK siege but I am annoyed to admit many other teams management do not even remotely come close to doing the same. At the end of the day, we're all in the same league and if it is just MNM and Navi pushing the presence of UK siege forward in consistency and numbers then we're going to hit a wall where we cannot grow any further until other organizations wake up and promote the league well and more.

There's a chance for the 2021 EUL to include more British players than any other nation (13) all of which would have come from the national level over the last 18 months. How much do you think the Prem/UKIN itself helped develop this talent?

I would say the UK national level is arguably one of the best national regions in Europe. The old MNM (now Navi) roster came from Prem (now UKIN) and both top teams in CL being from UK show how strong we are.

Will Attwood, Jon Blayney, Ubisoft UK, and everyone who has worked on Prem and UKIN have done a phenomenal job in creating an ecosystem that is consistent and strong for organizations and players. There are still things to work on but I would say the result of their hard work is paying off. We have a constant stream of organizations staying and supporting UK siege, we have divisions and university leagues that promote and curate on-air talent and so much more. Dezachu for example has strong roots in The NUEL and he is a prominent English caster in Rainbow 6. Overall I would say there that players are not the only area of Siege that is successful in UK esports.

If Cowana and MnM do replace Chaos and Rogue in the EUL these would be the 13 British players in the EU League as of Stage 2 lineups:

Player Current Team PL/EUL Debut Date
Kendrew & Doki Natus Vincere June 17th, 2019
CTZN G2 Esports June 17th, 2019
Blurr Natus Vincere March 23rd, 2020
Joe Natus Vincere September 21st, 2020
Pacbul Team Secret September 21st, 2020
Yuzus, Nathan & Dats MnM Gaming April 2021
Anarchic, Grizzly, Kayak & Sloth Cowana Gaming April 2021

In comparison, the next top nations by player numbers would be France with 11 players and Russia with 10. This would mark the first time in EU history that France, Russia, or Finland haven't held this record.

The MnM Gaming organization sold both their Challenger League winning lineup to Na'Vi and then their SI Qual contending team to CR4ZY. Is there any chance MnM would be willing to keep and support a successful roster into the EU League in the future?

We are 100% committed to continuing our support for Rainbow6, especially if we qualify for EUL. I believe that the UK has a strong R6 community that needs something to rally behind. #UKMASSIVE trending on Twitter during our SI Qualifiers run and CL Playoffs game showed that so being a UK team with UK / EU players is definitely a priority right now. People have questioned the longevity and growth of the game and in response, I would say it is time for a UK Esports team with UK players to rise up through the ranks and bring over a true UK esports experience to Rainbow 6. There is so much the MNM brand can bring in our visuals to our brand goals. MNM management originates from Asian British colonies and we celebrate everything that is diverse because that is what I believe Britain is. There is so much culture here that few national organizations, in my opinion, truly represent. 

MnM's next game is against Cowana in the Challenger League grand-final. How is the team preparing for this and how do you judge your chances after your nail-biting semi-final?

This question was asked prior to the Challenger League Final's delay.

There isn't much to say here, we either go big or go home. When we played Gamma I only prepared a winning tweet to post for the match result, and that's how I think about any game. As soon as you start to think you can lose then it can just become a self-perpetuating prophecy. The team has been working hard, practicing, and making sure they are prepared and in the right state of mind in and out of the game.

Finally, do you have a message to MnM's fans or the wider UK scene in general?

We honestly appreciate all the support we get around the world. UK/Europe is our base and seeing all the support in chat, copypastas, or social media comments is overwhelming, even the Japanese R6 community is amazing as we have casters such as Okayama often engaging with us and sharing us to the Japanese community. All I can say is thank you and that we've been working extremely hard behind the scenes to make the future amazing for MNM, the community and UK esports.

MnM Gaming's next game will be tomorrow as they fight through the single-elimination SI Closed Qualifiers with a potential meetup on the weekend against Na'Vi and Tempra for a spot in the 2021 Six Invitational.

Following this on January 15th is their Challenger League Finals against Cowana. Should they win this the following roster qualifies for the 2021 EUL Season while a loss means they must beat Rogue in a relegation match with the winner qualifying also:

Max "Dats" McLachlan
Nathan "Nathan" Sharp
Josh "Yuzus" Pritchard 
Aku "Fonkers" Seppä
Jonas "Jonka" Kaczmarzyk
Jack "Sparxo" Wright (coach)
Loic "Eden" Sennepin (analyst)

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Keep an eye out here for further coverage of the league and be sure to check out our other interviews with organizations around the world over the last year: