Home » Pete: “If the UK scene loses ESL Prem we are fucked”

Pete: “If the UK scene loses ESL Prem we are fucked”

The Endpoint owner spoke to UKCSGO before ESL's announcement regarding the National Championship circuit.

by GrimyRannarr

As we have come to the end of CS:GO, Endpoint have left such a great legacy in UKCS. In recent history, they haven’t had the utmost success, but with a new budding team, they are looking to rise back to the top regionally, and also secure themselves as one of Europe’s giants.

Behind all of this is Pete Thompson, the Co-Owner of Endpoint. Pete catches up with UKCSGO at ESL Premiership Autumn about Endpoint and its new roster, UKIC and their plans for the future, the issues with ESL removing the National Championship circuit and more.

What are your expectations from an organisational perspective for this event?

So for this event, we have a stand in the expo too, for us that is a way to active with partners. In terms of Insomnia itself, we wouldn’t really play Insomnia because it is not worth it for the costs for us, and for what you get out of it. From a competitive side we are just here for ESL Prem, from an organisation standpoint we have a stand, do activations with partners, we have CS2 on our stand which is cool, Rocket League, spin the wheel, build a PC, all the fun things. 

It is weird because throughout the years you get people coming up to say, “I remember your stand from this event 5 years ago.” That is really cool to us, doing in-person activations is really good for your fans to get to know who you are instead of just an online presence. That is what we are looking to get out of this event.

Notoriously Endpoint have made their international name through their Pro League appearances. How important was it for you guys to make those appearances, and how impactful would it be to return?

Pro League is massive, especially the viewership. We track all our viewership, this gives you a massive boost. In the month we were in Pro League last time, we hit 90 million minutes watched just from the games we played, this is great for sponsors. We track our matches exactly, the viewership you get from something like Pro League is very high, especially from an advertisement point of view or anything like that. Obviously playing on the biggest stage is our goal too, so that is key.

In the Last Pro League we played in we came fourth out of six in our group which was dubbed ‘The Group of Death’. We beat Fnatic and EG, and it shows we can get these results, but it is a shame with the franchise model that you get kicked straight back out, however, that might be changing in 2025, so everything is up for grabs. We want to be in Pro League, of course we do, the players want to be there, and we want to make that major we have never made but that is a different story.

Pete watching ESL Premiership Finals

With ESL Prem now being dissolved, and that pathway to ESL Pro League gone, how does this affect Endpoint?

In between your last Pro League appearance and now, you have had a change in identity. You normally pick up talents looking to prove themselves, but instead, you went for more proven players. What was the reason for the potential change of identity in the last year and going for a different route?

If I remember correctly we had quite a few changes, we always look at the up-and-coming players alongside the more experienced players, and just see what fits best for the team. At the time, the team and the coach felt that those players were for the best, yes Adam and I as owners have a say in who the players are, but MiGHTYMAX, the coach, and the players themselves realistically know more about Counter-Strike than we do. I played it semi-professionally as a kid, but they know the meta and we don’t, we hire them for the fact they know more than us. Realistically if they say to us this is the player we want, we obviously interview them to see if they are the right player for Endpoint as a whole from a physiological point of view, otherwise, we back their decision. 

Kjaerbye for him was more of an experienced person coming in, even though he was there for a short period of time, he taught the guys a lot. Max and Kia [surreal] learnt a lot from him and so did others, he had a positive impact even though he wasn’t there for a long time. Fessor probably was an up-and-coming player I would say even though he was on Astralis Talent, he still wasn’t that well known in the scene apart from his stream. He was definitely a gamble in that sense. mhL again was a very experienced AWPer, we got him for a similar price to other people. 

We have been looking at AZUWU since he was 4k elo on Faceit

We always want to get the top UK players if we can, but we felt over the last few years there hasn’t been someone coming through the ranks that has been worth picking up or it didn’t match up the contracts at the time, someone like CYPHER or volt. AZUWU became available and happy days let’s go for it, we have been looking at him for four years, and now we think he is ready to play. We have been looking at him since he was 4k Elo on FACEIT, we think he is a great person, a nontoxic player from the UK who is coming up fast and playing a lot of CS and is actually clearly good. We now think it is a time to give him a chance. It is clear he is proving himself already it is clear to say, he is a beast.

Azuwu playing at ESL Premiership Finals

You mention a lack of UK players rising up over the last few years, in the last year we have seen a massive influx of UK players breaking through, do you think there is a reason for that?

I think there was that gap where VALORANT came out and we lost that Tier 2 Counter-Strike, it all got destroyed with everyone going to VALORANT. I actually think we had the Tier 1 UK players still around in CS, and then the Tier 3 UK players and below. I said at the time when those Tier 2 players left, it would just be a couple of years till those Tier 3 players start coming in and growing. VALORANT just left that big void where you have people like ec1s, kpiz and people ready to be there in a year or two time leaving the CS scene. It just had to take time, it is now great seeing people coming through.

VALORANT just left that big void where you have ec1s, kpiz and people ready to be there in a year or two time leaving the CS scene.

The problem we have right now is that yes these players look good on paper, but a lot of players are just really inexperienced in the communication side of things and understanding the game still to make that jump to where Tier 2 is. I think that is always the problem we have had. We have these players who look good statistically and we play with them, but some of our players don’t think they are quite ready in terms of the knowledge of the game, I don’t think AZUWU is really there either yet, but the players are willing to teach him and they think it is worth it. That game knowledge just has to be at a certain level already, otherwise, it can just be bad. 

I think from an outside perspective, people go “why don’t you pick up this person, and this person, and this person.” A lot of them are not ready yet. These players will get there though, I think that is why we need better ways to teach those players in some way, that is maybe on us to do.

Staying on that topic of communication, pre-VALORANT we had a lot more LANs in the UK, do you think the lack of consistent LANS takes away experience for players to improve and get to the level you would need?

Taking iSeries for example, I think they need to change a lot of things. I used to play at i20’s in Counter-Strike Source, and the prize money was bigger than it is now. That is a joke when you think about how much esports has grown over the years. From 15-20 years when I was playing. I am not saying it is all on the prize money, iSeries cannot really justify the high prize pool because no one turns up. At the same time, the events just haven’t been running well enough from a competitive standpoint. The events, and I hate to say it and I don’t want to badmouth anyone, but the events just need to be run better. 

Yes, these LANs would help, but Endpoint ourselves and the UKIC want to run more LANs next year, you will be seeing it soon, we are going to try to run a lot more LANs at our offices, and we hope that sort of thing helps. We have a new thing being announced in a few months coming out, which will help the growth of players in a structure, and allow for opportunities to play on LAN. I hope that will help, but in regards to Insomnia, they just need to run the events better. This doesn’t necessarily mean prize money, but BYOC tickets for how expensive they are, the prize money should be better.

This segues into the BCSA, the newly created association. Do you find their presence necessary, and how much impact do you think they might have in helping this run better?

To be fair to them, I think they have done quite a good job so far since they started. In terms of when announcements come out which aren’t right, they seem to have done a good job to get changes made. Even the RES qualifier for BLAST managed to get the date changed for that so people can play that as well as ESL Prem. They have managed to get a few things changed here in regards to prize money and rules of everything and funding. The first schedule that was announced for Prem was 2 x BO3 and a BO5 in one day. Fair play to them for getting these things changed, if they weren’t there the orgs would have complained, but they have done a good job at changing that. More to them for that.

What would be your vision for something like ESL Premiership and iSeries, where can you see it going?

I have said for years what ESL Prem should do, and we got so close to getting it over the line when ESL UK was a thing. When they were doing three a year with LAN finals and 20k prize money, I told them ‘It is not about the prize money, the prize money should be less. You should have 10k prize money or even less, it doesn’t matter. For us, it is all about the qualifier spot, not about the money. Award less prize money, but give a stipend to organisations to help with social engagement, they have to do ‘x’ amount of tweets whatever it is to get their stipend.” 

This would help get organisations into the scene because you need the orgs to pay the salaries. And even if it is small salaries, this grows a player into being a professional. if you have a salary of this drop-off with having no salaried players at all, then Endpoint and ITB who are paying good salaries, and then one or two paying small, it is really hard to become a pro in the UK because the UK has such a high cost of living, if you move out of your parents house you need a job essentially. Whereas in Denmark you get paid to go to school so you can play Counter-Strike for as long as you want really, it is different in the UK. You need organisations to be able to get a stipend from people like that and go through it, that is where I would love to see ESL Prem go. 

A lot of people bash ESL Prem, they really shouldn’t. If the UK scene loses ESL Prem we are fucked. It annoys me when people bash them online, there needs to be constructive criticism not just saying it is shit.

I think LAN finals are good, I like the idea of it being at Insomnia, it has just been executed wrong. I think the idea of doing it at Insomnia is great, getting us on LAN with a proper stage and everything, is amazing. This is what orgs need, they need to be able to get media of this to show to sponsors, “look we are in arenas with stages, all the branding”. Their hearts are in the right place, just need to do a few different things. A lot of people bash ESL Prem, they really shouldn’t. If the UK scene loses ESL Prem we are fucked. It annoys me when people bash them online, there needs to be constructive criticism not just saying it is shit. A lot of people on UKCS just bash things instead of giving constructive criticism, behind the scenes as well. They just go directly onto Twitter and say “this is terribly run and it is bad.”

There has been a boycott of some sort for this event, do you think this is poor from the players? Their minds and hearts are in the right place, but what they are doing is overall super negative. What is your thought process about this?

I mean for the last few you see the prize money for Insomnia just goes to VALORANT now because they get more teams as well I think. I think that is because CS numbers just keep dropping. If CS numbers just keep dropping, and people not coming, they are not going to change anything. 

The way to go is to talk to the CEO, talk to them to try and get stuff to change. That being said it is tough, if the events are being run badly and there are 10-hour delays all the time, it is not even a boycott… why would you even want to come? I am not sure, to be honest, I think people should try to work stuff out, they have tried from what I gather. I don’t think a boycott is a bad idea personally, I just don’t think it will make a difference which is a shame.

Looking at UKIC and your tournaments. They have been online for over a year, but now you guys have announced a LAN event in December. Do you think if that goes well you will set a precedent alongside EPIC.LAN if it goes well?

Maybe, I mean the LAN events we want to run are very similar to the Beyond The Summit chill events. Everyone gets their bootcamp rooms. We have four bootcamp rooms, we have a whole kitchen area and a whole chill area. We are hoping to get casters in and have the pros sit with the casters to chat with them, that fun vibe. That is what we are going for. For us, we have accommodation as well, maybe not for everyone. We want to run events where yes the prize money is quite small, but orgs don’t have to pay for travel or accommodation, everything is paid for. They have a good time, they can do media in our media studio, we can do it properly. 

The LAN events we want to run are very similar to the Beyond The Summit chill events.

We are running one LAN yes, but next year we are changing our format. You will find out about this in a few weeks to a month, we are finalising it at the moment. We want to run four LANs next year, not as big as the one we are running in December, but they are going to be good, I hope you will like it, and it should be good for the scene from more of a grassroots level. 

I hope we run it well, we have run every event we have done in the last two years smoothly, but this will be our first LAN so there might be tech issues, who knows? We have a LAN server and are actually trying to run a Quake LAN in November, and that can be a good test for the CS LAN. 

UKIC announce first LAN competition at Endpoint HQ

Putting it crudely. Why? Endpoint has helped UKCS for so many years and has potentially been one of the reasons we are where we are as a scene. Why do you guys continuously do things without getting much thanks?

I love Counter-Strike. 

I played 1.5/1.6, CS Source competitively. For me it is a passion, I do it because I love it and love Counter-Strike. It is difficult, Endpoint as a branch is splitting up its businesses. We got Endpoint Esports and UKIC for events and grassroots stuff. These grassroots events, Endpoint won’t play in them, the RES qualifier is different, it is not our event, just running it for RES, and it is running well. Last year they just binned off the event. We said last time Endpoint won’t play and they just binned off the UK qualifier which is great [laughs], that is why we ran it this time. You won’t see Endpoint play the UKIC events, it is just going to be grassroots upwards. we do it because we love it, hopefully, that turns into a business at some point. We do lose money on UKIC every month, but at the same time, it does have some really good marketing power. 

For us, we do it because we love it. We are not looking for any thanks, we don’t need that. However, it does piss me off when people say, “an org shouldn’t be running events”, because if they know me or Adam or anyone in Endpoint, do you really think we are really going to risk our reputation in esports to con some fucking stupid thing and do a wrong ruling, we are not idiots. I would rather put a harsh ruling on our team to make it look like we are not deploying some sort of favouritism in any way, it is just stupid. Regardless, we have the facilities and want to make use of them to help the scene. UKCS is special.

You spoke about the facilities, you recently launched “Pracc Rooms”. Endpoint is about to do a two-week bootcamp, how important is that for you guys as an organisation and for the team and your players to have a Tier 2 team that is consistently bootcamping?

We always have done bootcamps, we had bootcamping houses at one stage. For the Gfinity Elite Series, we had a bootcamp house in London, one in Sheffield for Rocket League and then we had one in Barnsley for a while. We wanted to get rid of that house structure and put them into offices and apartments, separating living and playing. We have scaled up and up. 

We started off just doing it for our team, then let’s make it into a business model that is actually sustainable. Yes, we don’t get money when our team comes, but we rent it out to other teams when they come. We have been going for four months and had a really good start. The running costs are obscene, way higher than we thought they would be. We are trying to keep the bootcamps cost-effective for orgs, to come rent them, it is not that expensive, and we have accommodation as well which is pretty cheap in Sheffield compared to London. If you would make a comparison of bootcamping in London compared to Sheffield, you would spend a quarter of what you would spend in Sheffield. It is obscene, if you go to hotel prices in London right now, they are ridiculous. 

We want to try to keep it cost-effective for orgs, if they ever want to do media and bootcamps, which they need to do if they want to grow as an org, we are trying to keep it cost-effective, instead of having to get your own facility and spend 10s of thousands a month on it. For us it is being sustainable and not being as reliant on sponsorship, we have now four businesses that are trying to do that. We have Endpoint, we got UKIC, we got Pracrooms.gg and a dev project on the way which is coming soon, nothing to do with esports but it will all link together, having four businesses that make us sustainable.

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