It is a pleasure to share with you today an interview with Romain “Caelan” Albesa, a former competitive League of Legends player and now animator and co-shareholder of the famous French Solary structure. This interview was conducted during the VGA 2018 in Valenciennes, with a Caelan that could not be more smiling and benevolent. Here is a glance at our talk.
K: Hello Caelan!
K: In case some of our readers don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself quickly?
C: I am Romain Albesa, aka “Caelan”. I am one of the founders of Solary and streamer on from time to time ! That’s the most important things I guess.
K: We are currently at VGA 2018, what do you think about this event?
C: I find the LAN rather well organized. LOL players don’t have any network issues and that’s what we’re most vigilant about in general. This is the first time I’ve done this LAN and I’m pleasantly surprised, I didn’t expect so many visitors or even players.
K: Although you are no longer a competitive player in a team, are you still interested in the esport scene?
C: Of course!
K: The French League of Legends scene is now led by the LOL OpenTour, which is a regular competition bringing together the best French teams, a competition in which Solary and Lunary are involved. What do you think of this Open Tour?
C: I think it’s a good format. In my opinion, this competition organised over a national circuit is the form that the EU LCS should have adopted. In terms of hype generation, the circuit diagram is the best. Take Tennis, for example, the circuit model via Grand Slam tournaments is perfectly adapted. It is the same with the Majors on CS:GO or Rainbow VI for example, which are real catalysts of enthusiasm.
K: And it is all the more practical as the hype is extended over time at each step.
K: Are you afraid of esport on other games, competitors to League of Legends?
C: Fear? No, you don’t have to be afraid of that. If we take the example of traditional sports, why football is the most well-known sport, which dominates everything in terms of audience, hype around competitions and financial flows? It is because this sport interests billions of people. Anyone can practice this sport. Even at a low level, compete in it and above all everyone can watch it. That’s what creates the sport community! It’s the people who are interested in it. We in esport have the particularity of being in an environment that evolves enormously because it is young.
And yet, despite the fact that the environment has evolved, some games remain leaders for years because people are interested in them. Look at LOL, the game came out almost 10 years ago. Some of them were even playing it on the Beta. And yet the game is set to last a while longer. So no, you don’t have to be afraid of it. In addition, if one game goes out, it is because others work better. You have to know how to evolve with your environment, “surf the wave” as they say, but if you refuse to take it, you will have to do something else, to change your environment precisely.
K: During your career, you have been a competitor and streamer. So, competiing or streaming?
C: I would say competing. You feel much stronger, you meet people and have extremely enriching experiences as people when you compete. Of course, it will depend on what you are looking for as a person. But personally, from an early age I was a very competitive person. I started swimming very early in competition, for instance. Also, I find team sports fantastic, you experience unique things, feel incomparable sensations, and I think it’s even stronger for esport.
I say that because in esport you are witnessing a phenomenon that you don’t find in traditional sports. It’s when people are going to start a team from scratch, with people they think they know, while sometimes they only know each other virtually. They will only discover each other during the competition when they travel. But winning with someone you only know spiritually, succeeding in creating a bond with people you know almost nothing about, is exceptional. I don’t see any other environment, any other practice that brings something similar.
K: Without realizing it, you have literally just pitched the topic of KYKLOS application which is to allow players to spiritually “meet” people through video games and create a link between people. We thank you very much for that! (laughs)
C: Haha no problem (laughs).
K: You mentioned earlier that you played competitive sports when you were younger. Do you agree that good athletes make good e-athletes? We published an article about it on our website, and it’s amazing to see how good e-athletes can be.
C: Totally. I totally agree with that. And I would even add that good students, people with learning facilities, make good athletes. I think that what merges esport, studies and sport is issue of methodology and rigour in work. In a competitive scheme, at the top you will only find rigorous people, who have a real work dynamic. After that, of course, you have talented people, who don’t necessarily need the same rigour, even if you will always need a minimum of rigour and methodology.
When you reach a certain level as a competitor, you are not the only one looking to reach the top. In a competitive environment, I always thought that if you want to beat someone who works an hour, you have to work an hour and a half and/or work better.
K: You mention the student aspect, it makes a transition to the next question. Riot Games France has just announced the “Grosse Ligue”, which is a tournament circuit dedicated to students. Knowing that a student is not destined to become an electronic sports athlete, what are the contributions of such a league?
C: I think it sends a good message. As I said, students with good rigour and a good working method will make good competitors. And having this kind of league would make competition much more interesting for these people because the expected level would be much higher, much more challenging. Of course they don’t have the same training as competitive players. This brings a fairness in the competition since finally everyone is on the same level, and by implication it will create more excitement for student players.
In fact, it allows them to detach themselves a little bit from their studies, while providing them with something beneficial. They will be able to develop skills that they would not necessarily have sought in an educational or university environment.
K: You could even imagine a “pure gem”, a student who would prove to be an excellent esportsman, this kind of league gives him immediate visibility.
C: And who knows, it may be the first step towards esports studies. I think that in France it is still a little difficult to accept the phenomenon of esport. It comes little by little. You don’t have to be in a hurry, in France it always takes a few more years to accept something new, but you always end up accepting it in the end.
K: Well, you’re doing the right thing by talking about it. One of our partners on this event, emlyon business school, introduced the practice of esport as a subject to validate your year (article here)
C: Oh, yeah? Unbelievable! Well, you see, that’s exactly what I was saying when we were talking about the step-by-step acceptance of esport as a societal phenomenon.
K: At the LAN where we are, the Fortnite tournament is not an official tournament but a community tournament. This means that anyone can participate as long as they pay the registration fee and there is still one slot available. This aspect is a little bit disappearing on League of Legends, and it could also disappear on Fortnite. What do you personally think of these community events?
C: I am totally in favour. It should be noted that Fortnite and LOL are games that affect totally different communities. LOL requires a lot of investment, you can never get good if you don’t spend hundreds of hours on it? There are too many champions, too many spells, too many items, too many runes to know to be able to get by without tryhard.
While Fortnite is much more accessible. I think Epic Games is doing a very good job on that by giving importance to both tryharders and more casual players. In the long run, there is nothing to prevent a casual player from deepening the game experience by taking an interest in competition, for example. It’s exactly the same with football. You don’t need a huge prior investment of time and energy to understand football! But if you want more you can go for more.
K: Finally, it shoulders the concept of “Easy to play, Hard to master”.
C: Exactly. And I think that Epic Games is doing a very good job on that.
K: What are your personal ambitions today?
C: We will start with the ambitions of “Caelan”. I am currently trying to to train myself, to become a company manager of whom I can be proud of. There is a second Caelan who already considers himself a company manager and who only thinks of developing Solary in several areas. I am more focused on the merchandising aspect. I also want to push the esport within the structure. As for myself, more personally, my Romain-self, I want to develop my company while respecting an ideal of humanism. I find that so far things have been done with respect for the human being, properly, and I am incredibly proud of that.
We are in an environment with a lot of lies, unspoken or misspoken to be more misleading, and we on our side are trying to do the right things and the people who work with us are very happy. You see, just talking about it makes me realize how incredible what I’m doing is. I am 22 years old, and in Solary we have an executive assistant, who is on permanent contract, single with two children, and the practice of my passion, which has become my profession, allows this woman to live properly.
K: Finally, to end this interview, does Romain feel fulfilled?
C: Yeah, I’m really blooming. I have the chance to work in an environment that fascinates me, which means that I no longer count my hours but I always take as much pleasure, in addition to the results behind, people appreciate it, so we have absolutely no intention of stopping here. Make your passion your job, and it works, it’s a unique opportunity. There’s a bit of luck too, I’m aware of that. Even though I have worked, I know that these are seized opportunities that bring me here today.
Don’t forget that I have a particular background: at the beginning I was a player, I became a streamer, and now I am an entrepreneur. A lot of people ask me if they should get into this business, it’s very hard to answer. No one will recommend that you start a rockstar career, because there is actually some luck. Your success depends on the tastes of a mass of people, and you can’t know in advance if you will please enough people.
Well, gaming and esport are the same. You won’t be able to know in advance if you will be competitive. First of all, you have to ensure its survival. And then you will be able to turn to your personal comfort, to discuss notions of passions, pleasure etc. But it is survival that counts in the first place, I have gone beyond that stage so I only withdraw the best part and I hope to go even further in all my projects.
K: Thank you very much Romain for giving us this interview, it was exciting!
C: Thank you very much for this interview! The questions were relevant, I enjoyed doing it very much. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who follow Solary and who follow me more personally. Know that we struggle all every day to make sure that you are satisfied. And I hope that the readers of this interview will appreciate our exchanges.
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