Why Dignitas came to Oceania

By Riot Sephyre

When JKSmithy leads his team onto the stage at Supanova this weekend, he’ll be wearing a different jersey than we’re used to seeing.  That's because the roster formerly known as Frenetic Array has been picked up by Dignitas, the international powerhouse founded by Michael 'ODEE' O'Dell.

ODEE is no stranger to long shots. He first took one in 2003 when he merged his competitive Counter-Strike team LCD with Kompanix from Sweden to form the very first Team Dignitas. It also sparked years of struggles to try and make a successful business out of an esports franchise. ODEE had a fervent belief that esports would become a huge success and was willing to go into $126,000 worth of credit card debt to prove it.

"I had a good job so I was able to get credit on a few cards," recalls ODEE. "It was a calculated gamble, I wouldn't recommend it, but you only live once and I went for it."

The team put up decent results and branched out into different games, but the main turning point for Dignitas was signing Alienware and SCAN Computers to big sponsorship deals in 2010 and the explosion of streaming.

"Streaming has changed everything, for years we were chasing mainstream media but now thanks to TwitchTV and streaming, mainstream media are chasing us," he explains.

JKSmithy (above)

When there were rumours swirling that Dignitas was looking to pick up an Oceanic team, most of the speculation was that ODEE was searching for a roster to acquire. It was actually JKSmithy, the captain and manager of the former Frenetic Array, that reached out to Dig.

"A little over a month ago I contacted Dignitas and in less than 24 hours they replied saying they were interested," recalls JKSmithy. "Words cannot even begin to describe how excited we were when Dignitas replied to us expressing interest in our team. I'm still having trouble believing it now that it's official."

The move means that the freshly-minted Oceania chapter of Team Dignitas will have access to the full resources of an international gaming team.

"The great thing I've noticed since joining is the closeness of the entire organisation - it really feels like a team," adds JKSmithy. "On top of financial support and peripherals, the best part is that we get to communicate with the Dignitas NA players as well as their coach Vlanitak on a regular basis."

ODEE claims that Oceania has never been that far from Dignitas' radar. He speaks highly of the fans in the region for the support they have shown the team.

"I only see growth in the esports scene in the region as I said I think it has been a bit neglected from the outside, but the scene itself is alive and growing fast," he says. "So we look forward to being a part of that growth."

One awkward possibility is that JKSmithy and the Oceania Dignitas could win their way to worlds and possibly play against Dignitas NA if they made it as well. O'Dell just smiles when asked who he would want to win.

"I would cheer for both of course, let's hope that happens."

5 years ago

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