“We are showing that you can fill up a stadium with fans. If we can do it in a one-floor venue like this, then we can easily fill up a big one with the right amount of marketing.”

After two days of non-stop CS2 action, team FLUFFY AIMERS won Launders LAN! By climbing to the top, FLUFFY AIMERS earned the lion's share of the $10,000 CAD prize pool. The Rivalry tournament itself took place in Ontario. However, competitors flew in from around the world. We sat down with CS2 legend Mohan "Launders" Govindasamy himself plus event attendees to get their thoughts on the CS2 esports scene and more!

Launders LAN attendees (Image via Amy Chen)
Launders LAN attendees (Image via Amy Chen)

The impact of Launders LAN on CS2 esports

Named after the CS2 player and commentator himself, Launders LAN took place at The Warehouse in Ontario. The venue boasted huge screens, broadcast talent, food, drinks, and dedicated areas for photography thanks to Rivalry. In an interview with esports.gg, Launders revealed how live events such as this one fulfills the community's growing demand for gaming tournaments in Toronto, especially given the scarcity of venues that have been exacerbated by lockdowns.

"I think that is starting to blossom, which is nice," Launders said. "The rest of the esports scene in Toronto is like — it's fans with nowhere to go. So until we did these events with Rivalry, there were no other LAN tournaments for basically the last four years. Most of the LAN venues shut down in the last four years as well because it's just a hard business. It's especially tough when there were lockdowns. It was really hard to do live events, essentially. So no surprise they shut down, but it does mean that now there's both a lot of people who want to go to events, but not many event spaces. So The Warehouse here is one of the very few places that seems like a very promising place to put more future events."

CS2 event attendees Leo Jia and Travis Shao (Image via Amy Chen)
CS2 event attendees Leo Jia and Travis Shao (Image via Amy Chen)

Attendees Travis Shao and Leo Jia agreed, with the former noting how he wanted more CS2 LANs in Toronto and there's a need for a solid community to support competitive players. Meanwhile, Jia cited the Launders LAN as his first LAN event before expressing excitement about a potential esports arena in the city.

"I heard that Toronto was building an esports arena, but it got delayed," Jia said. "So if that ever gets built, I'm pretty sure the community would get much bigger. I do hope they finish it soon. Once that stadium gets built, then hopefully, the community can just like skyrocket from there."

CS2 competitors at Launders LAN (Image via Amy Chen)
CS2 competitors at Launders LAN (Image via Amy Chen)

An increasing demand for esports tournaments

While the CS2 tournament featured 32 teams in total, the turnout was about 500 people on the first day, according to Launders. He added that it was the most spectators he's even ever seen at a LAN.

"So we know that works," he continued. "Our goal is to have a Major come to Toronto. That is the end goal. It sounds like a pipe dream, but I think we both can actually see it. We haven't had a Canadian Major. We are showing that you can fill up a stadium with fans. If we can do it in a one-floor venue like this, then we can easily fill up a big one with the right amount of marketing."

"People are willing to come in as well," Launders added. "From like Syracuse, Virginia, Florida, California. Somebody came in from California just to show me a hat and watch the event. People are hungry for it."

Player Go0dby3 at Launders LAN (Image via Amy Chen)
Player Go0dby3 at Launders LAN (Image via Amy Chen)

As an example, Ghasif "Go0dby3" Syed was one of the competitors who flew in from the states. In a conversation with esports.gg, he also revealed how Launders LAN gave him the opportunity to meet two of his teammates in person for the first time ever.

"I flew here from Boston, Massachusetts," Go0dby3 said, adding that his team plays under the MCS flag and know each other through ESL FACEIT Group's (EFG) ESEA League. "All of us have played with each other in the past, but not all five together."

Go0dby3 then talked about how he's been actively participating in LAN events each month, traveling to various locations such as Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Ohio. He also achieved notable placements, winning in Philadelphia and Ohio and making a strong semi-final run in New Jersey.

"I like to tell people who are contemplating going to these LANS — if you're local, it's kind of a no brainer. Just try to go, meet some people, get some friends together. It'll be worth it," Go0dby3 said.

Launders at the venue (Image via Amy Chen)
Launders at the venue (Image via Amy Chen)

Launders shared his thoughts about this outcome. "Somebody's putting themselves up $1,500 to pay for a flight and a hotel, and then they're buying tickets and they're coming alone to these events," he said. "We want to cure loneliness, y'know? Like I want people to meet each other in person. I want pro players to come out of these. My dream is to have one, 12, 20 players come out of this LAN and to eventually lead into events like Majors where I won't be surprised if someone pays $1,500 to fly their way out by themselves."

Launders and Rivalry: Made by CS2 fans, for CS2 fans

Launders then explained how his partnership with Rivalry is ideal, highlighting his Canadian roots and Toronto base as complements to Rivalry's local presence and Ontario license — especially given Counter-Strike's large betting scene. This aligns with Rivalry CEO Steven Salz's strategy of pursuing unique and creative partnerships that engage both partners and audiences.

"They looked at my YouTube and some of my Twitter and things like that," Launders explained. "And the personality and brands fit together. They like absurd humor, they like to do things in a funny way. I like to do that, too. And they kind of get me. And I think their style and branding and stuff is like right on, like the same exact way how I view branding should be."

Photography area and Launders' BOXR merchandise (Image via Amy Chen)
Photography area and Launders' BOXR merchandise (Image via Amy Chen)

"So it was like, 'Okay. We can try to aim to do a few big events a year. And then in between do like betting predictions for tournaments or like small videos where I talk about Rivalry for Twitter and social media posts,'" Launders continued. This planning resulted in collaborating with Rivalry creative director Alexander Norling. Together, they created on-brand content for subscription-based newsletters, Twitter posts, and more.

Launders also advised local figures to host watch parties to boost attendance. This is because their presence can draw crowds who then return for the community aspect of it all. For example, he uses his own influence to promote events and ensure larger turnouts. He hopes that other cities can do something similar with gatherings to kickstart local engagement.

The commentator then reflected on the decline of DreamHack, noting its importance in networking across the esports industry. He's passionate about the return of festivals like DreamHack since they enrich the esports scene through diverse interactions and live experiences.

"Even though they don't get the most viewership, the in-person experience and being able to mix with all your friends and other games and have tons of booths and stuff like that — I think that's the future for esports in North America," he said.

That's all for now. Stick around on esports.gg for more news, interviews, and updates!

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