This week, we had the pleasure of having the opportunity to discuss with Charles “Noi” Lapassat. He is one of the founders of O’Gaming, the leading sports channel in France on Twitch. Specialist in the League of Legends game, he agreed to answer our questions!
Kyklos: Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
Noi: My name is Noi, Charles Lapassat by my real name. I’m approaching 30, just like Chips, by the way!
I did an Economic Baccalaureate, and I went to Sorbonne for a double degree in Law and Management. But towards the end I felt that I hated what I was professionally engaged in. In parallel with that, with a group of friends composed by Pomf and Thud, we attended LANs, parties… we started doing VOD on Youtube! It worked pretty well and we thought there were a few things to do. And nine years later, we’re at that point! 🙂
Kyklos: But so the famous question: how did you and Chips meet?
Noi: So Fabien and I were together at the University bench! So it’s been about ten years already! We were in an amphitheatre, and we were both sitting next to a girl. A guy came in with green shorts and a green t-shirt and she said something like “Aha the noob, he is wearing green”. And so we both laughed, talked and it turned out we were both playing WoW. We matched pretty easily !
Kyklos: So you’re both big WoW players?
Noi: Yes, we played a lot, but never together! It’s really a regret because we would have liked to do some PvP together.
Kyklos: And of all this, how did you end up on LoL? And what was the process to create O’Gaming?
Noi: Basically we used to make Starcraft’s VODs, and we recorded them in my room. So imagine at the time, I’m a student, my room was 10-12m2… So in the summer, there were 10 of us in the room, we drank beers and smoke cigarettes in a 35-degrees room. But we were a nice bunch of friends and we had a great time! And one day, Pomf and Thud came to talk to us about doing this kind of VOD on LoL. You should know that Chips and I had played the game for quite a bit. We were on Dota at first and migrated to LoL. Why not, let’s try it. We recorded something, we put it on Pomf and Thud’s Youtube channel. At the same time we were also creating our “Chips and Noi” channel. And it took off well! We also like to remind you that the most popular video on the “Pomf et Thud” channel is LoL’s.
And the real creation of O’Gaming, we organized an event for Starcraft in a bistro not far from the Parc des Princes. It was free and we brought in three players for a showmatch.
You really have to understand that we were a group of friends who love doing things together, creating events… So we created a facebook event, and it was quite a buzz. More than 500 people said that they would come! Except the bar couldn’t bear that many people! So we bought extra TVs, did everything we could to be ready on D-Day. And the day of the event, it was crowded. People even climbed to the trees to see the TV… It was crazy! And in the evening when we got home with the boys, we thought there was something to do. And that’s where O’Gaming began.
Kyklos: How would you describe OG today in a few words?
Noi: It is an audiovisual production company specialized in video games. But we’re starting to diversify. For example, we are the ones who hosted and provided the technical support for Acropolis, which talks about politics on Twitch and in particular organized the Debathon with the French Prime Minister. In fact, we are beginning to use the skills we have acquired over the years. But 99% of our activity revolves around video games.
After that, 50% of the revenue is from broadcasting, and the other half is white-label production. For example, the Overwatch league is not broadcasted on OG, but the production, the casters, etc., are part of O’Gaming.
Kyklos: And how are the broadcasting rights for the competitions going?
Noi: So it’s changed a lot! At first, on LoL, everyone could caste the competitions. After that, RIOT decided to restrict certain broadcasts. But it was pretty free!
Then we had the time when only 3 big channels had the rights: Eclypsia, Millenium and us! It was super intense because you couldn’t stop or you would get taken over. But it was pretty rough! We were two commentators. So we had 12 games a day, 3/4 times a week. 16 was the record, by the way! Then we saw what happened to Millennium and Eclypsia… And in fact, I think we are 3 casters who had the most resilience to get here today: Chips, Tweeks, and myself. No one else likes competition enough to do to themselves what we’ve been inflicting to ourselves for 10 years! So we ended up as the only survivors!
And over time, RIOT has structured its broadcasting rights. There is therefore one exclusive distribution partner per language and per country in Europe. So we have a contract with RIOT that allows us to broadcast the competition, in exchange for the payment of the broadcasting rights.
Kyklos: It’s interesting that you talk about the rhythm of the competitions which is very high, because every year we see new things happening. This year in particular, we have the LFL in France! Aren’t you afraid you won’t be able to keep up one day?
Noi: This is already the case at the moment. We can’t broadcast the LPL for example because we don’t have a room in the schedule despite it’s the World Champions League! But then you have to make choices. We are attached to Korea, Europe… At O’Gaming, we are 8-10 commentators, it allows us to cover as many things as possible. And we’re always looking for new talent, so that doesn’t narrow us off from the competitions we currently have! Maybe we’ll add some in the future! After that, it’s not easy to be a caster, and it takes a lot of learnings! You can’t let go a commentator with little experience on his own in a big competition. You have to supervise him with another more experienced.
And at O’Gaming, quality takes precedence over quantity! If you want to cast LEC, or LCS, you need a certain level! And some of our casters still need to develop a little more skills. But I have no doubt that one day they will be excellent commentators and that this will allow us to comment on other leagues!
Kyklos: What do you think of the LFL?
Noi: Obviously we’re co-producers with Webedia so I’ll have to tell you some positive things (laughs).
As expected, the league system increases the level of play. Which is very good.
If we really wanted to push the thing, we would have started in a format like Korea with BO3 round-trip matches. But it would be a lot of games and it’s a first season. It is true that the BO1 format is sometimes a little harsh and punitive. But it’s funny to see aAa taking a game from GO and that’s also the magic of the discipline! Then you have a team that is untouchable this year, it’s LDLC. They are very strong. If you put them in LEC, they’re better than some teams.
Kyklos: We talked a few weeks ago with Eika, Team LDLC’s midlaner. He seemed very confident!
Noi: He is awesome this year. He’s unbelievable! He has always been super strong at the game, but now he has the team that goes with his talent.
Kyklos: And in terms of audiences, did you have any doubts at all?
Noi: Me personally, no! I knew it would work.
People were especially scared and said “3 years to make a league is too long…” Yeah, but you have to think long-term. A league doesn’t happen in two days. Even if the start had not been good, I remain convinced that in the end it would have been a great opportunity.
The audiences have been correct since the launch. There are things to improve, but it’s good for a start.
I also think that by 2020, events all over France will be organized! And then it won’t be the same thing! Week 1 you can be in Montpellier, week 2 in Lille… It will be good for the players, for the public… And also for the sponsors! So you have to be patient! Let’s give this competition time to stabilize.
Kyklos: What about the LoL Open Tour?
Black: The format changes for the Open Tour, it will be full Online! To compare the two, LFL is a professional level. Players are paid to play, and that’s their job. The Open Tour is amateur! It is accessible to all. But that was the goal!
Kyklos: We have seen the Battle Royales skyrocketing the market this year. And people were worried about LoL… How did you see the arrival of the BRs, and did it impact your audiences?
Noi: Everyone thought LOL was making fewer views… But that’s completely false. Our audiences in 2018 are rising, in 2019 are rising as well, or at least remain stable! But they don’t go down. People think in peaks of viewers… Except that you have to look at the recurrence, the number of matches, the number of unique visitors… Today for less match, you have more audience per slot. So we were never afraid. LOL is a stable game, very well installed in esport.
Moreover, the audience of the BRs is not the same as that of the MOBA. So all it can do to me is give us new people to interest! And I’m very happy that there are a lot of streamers that stimulate and bring this audience back to esport! We at O’Gaming are very bad at this because we’ve been here for a long time. We’re kind of the dinosaurs and we don’t know how to address this young audience! For example, Solary, they have an audience that we don’t reach. And we shouldn’t think that because it’s also a WebTV, we’re competitors. No. We work together!
And the funny thing is that when we started we thought we were popularizing esport to try to make it accessible to everyone. Today we are considered as the most hardcore branch of video games! That means it kept growing since we’ve been here. And it will probably continue to do so until the general public is also used to the discipline.
But to sum up, we couldn’t have dreamed better than what we were bringing the BRs because it allows us to potentially capture a new audience! Then it’s up to us to be good and make sure to attract these people to our content.
Kyklos: You, who has been an entrepreneur in esport for a few years and who has experience in the field, do you think it is still as complicated to start a business in the sport in France today as it was before?
Noi: Anyway, when you launch a start-up it’s not easy. You don’t count your hours. You buy yourself a slingshot. It’s complicated in any environment. It took us at O’Gaming six years to find profitability. Priority was given to paying suppliers, service providers and employees. And then we would look at the bottom of the crates to see if there was anything left for us.
If your guys see you giving it all so they can live, they’ll do the same for you. It is important that everyone looks at the same direction!
And it is also necessary to know how to differentiate between passion, friendship and work. When you put all your eggs in the same basket, it’s more complicated to manage too! And you also have to be able to diversify! When you focus on a game that’s been struggling for some time, and you only have this one, well, it’s bound to be more complicated! We at OG have diversified the thing! Even if LoL represents a large percentage of the activity.
Kyklos: Interesting. And to stay a little bit in this business part, what do you think of esport trainings offered by schools?
Noi: I’m working on it a little bit. The way we present the professions of esport, I am necessarily affected. For me the best way to be useful in the market is not only to know the game. It is necessary to succeed in bringing skills from the outside world into esport. That’s what will allow us to move forward too. It is easier to take a lawyer and teach him how it works here, instead of taking an esports enthusiast and teach him the profession of lawyer. We must not do things the other way around.
Until recently, I had someone I knew who asked me to talk to a friend who wanted to drop everything for stream and go on Youtube. NO! NO! Continue your studies and stream on the side. And you’ll see that the day a company wants to recruit you, it won’t be because you’re a streamer! But it will give you an extra experience!
The esport is a new profession, which takes the skills of other environments. You shouldn’t close a door and only want esport. It’s an environment in which seats are expensive!
On the other hand, if you do a classic course and behind it, you want to do an esport course, then okay! You already have generalist skills, and you want to know more about the environment. An sports training must be complementary to your basic training.
Kyklos: Very interesting! It’s nice to see someone in the business having a clear-cut but explained opinion on the topic! To conclude, who’s your favorite in LEC this year?
Noi: G2 will blow everything up. That’s for sure. They have the best players. I am so looking forward to being at MSI this year.
Kyklos: And we’ll see you at the Worlds Cast in Paris?
Noi: With great pleasure!
Kyklos: Thank you Noi, see you soon!
Noi: Thank you too!