South Korea is a leading power in esports and in a brand new, 10-storey building in Seoul’s expensive Gangnam district, dozens of T1’s professional and budding gamers train, following a routine similar to mainstream sports. The routine is intense: around 10 hours a day with coaches and trainers, strategising and polishing their skills for the next match.
T1 was founded by South Korean telecommunications giant SK Telecom in 2004, which combined it two years ago in an international joint venture with Comcast Spectacor, a subsidiary of the US entertainment giant Comcast, which also owns the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team.
A Nike-sponsored gym, support staff including nutritionists and English language classes are all part of the set-up at T1, one of the world’s top esports organisations, where around 70 gamers are looking to emulate its highest-profile member, League of Legends giant Faker.
Nike, BMW and Red Bull are among T1’s sponsors and last year’s League of Legends World Championships were backed by prestigious brands such as Louis Vuitton and Mercedes-Benz.
T1 are three-times League of Legends world champions, and according to esportsearnings.com, are the world number one for overall prize money, with around $7,1 million.