Panathinaikos is a big multisport club, one of the biggest in Greece. Why did club management decide to go into eSport? What’s in it for the club?
Elias Apostolopoulos, head of Panathinaikos PC-gaming department, has answered my questions.
– Panathinaikos is an athletic club, founded in 1908, with titles in 26 different sports with a strong athletic structure. We decided to go into eSport because it’s innovative and progressive, and Panathinaikos is exactly such a club – innovative and progressive. We think that it’s a great move for our club. The main idea behind going into eSport was to raise the Greek scene and bring other clubs with us, and create a strong and healthy community.
- I have to ask you about Ad Finem. Did their huge success at The Boston Major affect Panathinaikos’ bosses desire to go into eSport? They are the runners-up of a huge tournament and now one of the biggest teams in the world.
There is no doubt that at the moment Ad Finem is the greatest eSport club in Greece and their Dota 2 squad is one of the best in the world. However, We have been having the idea of going into eSport for about 3 years already. The success of Ad Finem is a great story, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with our decision to create an eSport branch.
- I talked to Marios Papasarantos, and he mentioned that he reached to some big football clubs in Greece couple of years ago in attempt to find a sponsor, but they were not interested in eSport. Was Panathinaikos one of them?
– I’m not sure about this, but as far as I know, he didn’t come to Panathinaikos.
- Let’s talk about your players. Do you have any active squads, which are ready to go like tomorrow?
– At the moment we are researching for players for every possible position. Our approach is one at a time. Main priority for us is LoL, then Fifa and Hearthstone. We are taking this serious, and trying to separate pro and semi-pro teams.
- So you are going to have semi-pro squads as well?
– Yes, we want to encourage them to be better, to push forward to their limits in an attempt to become pro. We will support semi-pro players.
- Can you give me any inside information about the players who are already in your team?
– I can tell you that one of the most famous Hearthstone players in Greece – Logan is under heavy consideration to become a coach for our HS squad. We try to pick up the best Greek players in every part of the team. At this point of time we are focused only on Greek players, but later on we may consider inviting players from other countries.
- As a Dota 2 fan, I have to ask you: what about a Dota 2 squad? When will you have it?
– Dota 2 is one of the biggest eSport, no doubt about that. I talked to Marios (Papasarantos), and I hope that he can help us in creating our Dota 2 squad, but as I said, one at a time.
- All right, let’s talk about running this project. As it’s mentioned in your official statement, Panathinaikos’ eSport branch will be managed by Mr. Andreas Derdemezis, IliasApostolopoulos and Michael Viliotis. How the responsibilities will be shared between them?
– Andreas Derdemezis is the head of Cowboy TV alongside with Ilias Michalarias form Panathinaikos A.C ,they are the board, offcourse with the support of the Panathinaikos A.C president , Dimitris Baltakos. Michael Viliotis is responsible for console games, and I’m for PC games, and we have some great managers for every team. That’s pretty much it.
- NBA 2K is displayed as one of the games that your club is going into, alongside with Fifa. It’s pretty understandable why a big multisport club wants to have its own squads in sport simulators, but why did you chose NBA 2K over NBA Live by EA Sports?
– Because we have a really strong 2K gaming community in Greece. We decided to work towards the existing community rather than creating a new one. But NBA2K is also a future plan.
- Ok, Fifa, Hearthstone and NBA 2K is great, but tell me more about big competitive team games. Do you already know who is going to play in your LoL squad?
– We have a lot of ideas in that regard, we talk to a lot of players, we are scouting and trying to bring the best LoLplayers to our club. In about 20 days we will have a big announcement, all I can tell you right now is that we consider literally every Greek player out there.
- How do you see the scene grow? Do you think other big clubs in Greece will follow this direction?
– We hear that PAOK is very interested in eSport, it’s not long until they will have their own eSport squads. Can’t tell you about other clubs though. Talking about the scene growing, the pilot season of THE LEAGUE(https://www.facebook.com) (part of EGaming event (https://www.facebook.com/egamingre)]in Greece had massive success with more than 5000 visitors on its playoffs, and it keeps expanding in several games.
- Do you have any plans of creating your own league with other clubs like PAOK?
– I think it might happen in future, when more clubs are involved.