eXanimo Riga, go big or go home!
Driving to eXanimo in Riga I drove straight to the address known to me. Of course they had moved location😊 Apart from yet another piece of evidence I’m not the best navigator in the world, it’s important to mention because Janis, the owner, made the decision Simon from GG-WP Tallinn has yet to make: go big or go home.
eXanimo means ‘from heart and soul’ and expresses the love for gaming. Janis is a long time pro CS:GO player (started with CS Source) and has organized a lot of LAN’s in his life as well as online tournaments. This experience brought him to open up an esportsclub.
eXanimo first started off as a club in a location outside of the city center, set up by EU funds. There were no pc’s, only 150 m2 of space, graffiti on the wall, chairs, a bar and wifi, that’s it. There was room for 40 pc set ups and he held LAN tournaments every week where gamers had to bring their own pc’s. Because there was only limited space, people had to buy a ticket to participate. The place was full every week and the enthusiasm of the people that were there made him decide to open a club downtown without entrance fee, so more people could come. He thinks the popularity of esportsbars or -clubs lies in the fact that, as a gamer, you make so many friends online that it’s great you get the chance to meet them in real life. Gaming together with friends or people you’ve just met is a whole different experience than gaming at home. The shared joy you feel makes all the difference.
Janis (and his friends) had to fight a lot of negativity from people who couldn’t see this club happening as well as it being a success. He says it’s really important to go for it anyway in spite of that. If you feel it’s a good thing in all your bones, just do it, no matter how many setbacks you get. It’s your passion that will make things happen.
The downtown goeXanimo club is neat! It’s the opposite of goeXanimo 1.0 with all new chairs and first class equipment this time. It comes across as a designer bar for gamers and that’s really cool. As any bar or café, during weekdays it’s slower than in weekends when the place is packed. They still organize tournaments in this club too (that are streamed online by the way), local as well as international, have weekly events and have their own teams in CS:GO and LoL. The club is a try out to find out what’s most successful and what the needs of the gamers who come here are. The outcome will result in a different club in the future.
I’ve spent 2 days at goeXanimo and it’s a very relaxed club where you can get great sandwiches (at least when Janis makes them). Janis is a great host and the gamers that come here are either quiet and play a game or come with a group of friends and have fun while playing a game. If you’re not into gaming, but some of the people you’re with are, that’s no problem at all. The club has a bar (food and drinks) and an area that has no pc’s, but is more like a diner set up, 2 couches and a table in the middle. It’s easy to just sit and relax there with your non gaming crew. The music is good and the vibe is alive, you will have a good time either way!
Janis and I both smoke, so we had a lot of conversations outside. People passing the bar (that’s only been there for a couple of months) that didn’t know we were part of it, all had positive things to say. Also nice, because it’s situated right in Riga center, it’s a good place to meet fellow gamers while you’re doing a city trip and get a taste of the old city center at the same time. In other words, just go an visit goeXanimo in Riga!
To watch the interview with Janus: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/155276242
To watch the signing of the flag: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/155331233