Already in Denmark at a camping side just across the border, view on Hamburg’s present for Copenhagen, curtains closed to keep the sun out, Evi on a long rope sitting in the middle of the path, waiting for dogs and people to play with, but nobody’s coming so far. Most important of all though: electricity and wifi so I can finally write about all the good people in Hamburg and thank Esports with Friends!
Hamburg’s Esport with Friends had the most difficult task of all, being the first esportsbar to open the roadtrip, and they did such a wonderful job! Christopher Lege, being the anchor of Esports with Friends, is a very busy man, having a fulltime job at Youpooly.com (a great innovative company that creates platforms to fund your event). Chris’ boss, Bosse Kullenberg, allowed him company time to put together the awesome gift for Copenhagen. Thank you Bosse for doing that! From the moment I arrived (1 hour late) Hamburg has been nothing but friendly and welcoming in a very relaxed way. Esports with Friends is a group of, well, friends, who come together weekly to play an esports quiz and live stream their games. There’re 10 teams involved, including one online team. If you want to join online (without cheating on google), just get in touch through their Facebook. You need to be at least two persons and can be from anywhere in the world. Although it’s a friend event, it’s serious business, questions are not easy at all, competition is heavy and honor is being defended. The quiz is streamed on their Facebook:
Besides the quiz, they sometimes feature special events that are announced on their Facebook as well.
The group of friends is fun. One by one they drop in, drink a little, talk about their week, lots of laughter going on and then it’s game time. People split up in their teams, friendship is suspended for the coming 1,5 hours, sighing and struggling over the questions and then it’s time to hand in the answers (two rounds) and announce the winner. The winners and the quizmaster of the day drink a traditional shot and after that, friendships are back on. All this hosted by Natascha, the absolute great bartender from The Ukraine. If you’re ever in Hamburg on a Wednesday night and need a warm welcoming place to go to, visit Esports with Friends at the XTiP Sportsbar, Osterstraße 50, 20259 Hamburg, Germany. They will welcome you with open arms!
I asked Chris why, since he has a lot of other stuff going on in his life, he’s passionate about his community. What stands out is his love for gaming and his will to connect people. Hamburg didn’t have an esports bar and he missed that, a central place for people to walk in and meet. Thinking, with so many gamers in one town, it would be easy to set this up, he was mistaken. The gap between gamers and non gamers is still huge, the nerdy image still present. Finally he found his place close to home; a family friend with a sports betting bar gave him a space Monday through Thursday and Esports with Friends was on. There’re many things going on esports wise in Hamburg, but sadly, as seen in The Netherlands, it’s all on voluntary basis and there comes a time people need to choose between paid work and passion. Expertise gets lost and that’s a real shame! I wonder if, during this roadtrip, we can find out why there’s still a disconnection between traditional businesses and esports. Business life wants to join, they just don’t know how and with all the splintered esports groups and -clubs and expertise leaving, something needs to change. It’s people like Christopher who go the extra mile and never give up that can make a difference.
Christopher wrote a small document on how to start an esports community and to never give up! You can read it at the end of this article.
Having spent two nights at Chris’ apartment (thank you Jeanine!), it was time to move on. Really wanted to explore beautiful Hamburg some more and go to st. Petern Ordin, a beach at the west coast where you can park your car and camp, however, Paypal still not returning my money forced me to skip that. So up to Denmark Evi and I drove and now we’re camping in a fjord, which is cool. A fjord is a word I used to read in Viking stories and now I’m actually at one. Equipment wise, I will need to find a garage to fix my cigarette lighter plug to be able to stream. In the mean time I will take some vids of where I’m at and upload them. My phone doesn’t do adobe flash for some reason, but uploading will be just fine for now. With Esports with Friends, the European Esportscafé Roadtrip has officially started. It will take me to unknown places, friendly people, unexpected situations and give me and all who have joined a warm esports family! In spite of things not working out perfectly where my technical stuff is concerned, I know all will be well over time and this will be an awesome adventure!
Christopher’s advise to set up a place to come together:
Bring your esports community together
We are big esports fans. But watching streams alone where you cannot argue with friends over a good game of Counter-Strike is not what esport is about. Esport is similar to soccer or football where you meet your friends every week to watch a game. But where can you watch esport with your friends?
You might ask yourself the same questions. Where can I watch? How can I setup an event where friends and people who are interested can come together? What do I need to start something like that?
We are a Hamburg-based organization called “eSports with Friends”. We started with the exact same questions. We like to share our experiences so others can start their own community hub in their city. Because esports is not only the big arena but it is about the communities and the local events where enthusiasts can go and meet like-minded people.
The start is the hardest step. Before you set out to open your own bar or café you need to check if people are interested in esports in your local area. We found it is a good idea to search for a bar where you can host your viewing parties or tournaments. The easiest thing is to find a bar which is always open when you want to host your events. If the owner needs to open up the location just for the event you might get in trouble when not so many people show up as planned, because bar owners tend to stop opening up for your events when there is one event where not so many people came.
Congrats you found a location. What is important now is to host regular events. Because you want to gather your community. Also, you want to have some kind of retention mechanism in place why people should come back and visit your events again. This does not mean you should have other viewing events for the big tournaments or your own tournaments which are not regular. We setup our regular event every Wednesday with live-streaming of current events and live-gaming and a pubquiz. We play Mario-Kart or Tetris or something like that as live-gaming. Approximately one and a half hour of every Wednesday evening is dedicated to our pubquiz. We have 2 rounds with 6 questions and cool prize for the winner. Our retention mechanism despite the event itself is a pubquiz league. At the end of a specific period the winning team gets a fair prize and the league resets.
Because we are also at the beginning of our adventure those two things were the most important things we found that you need to start any esports movement.