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Ocelote: The Position We Are In Now Wasn't Handed to Us

A staple name in Spanish League of Legends -- and League of Legends worldwide -- is Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago. Owner of G2 Esports, Ocelote has perspective on the game that no other owner can claim, and an incredible squad to back that up.

Ocelote's career is widely defined by his mid lane play for SK Gaming from 2010-2013, but it was his time with Gamers2 that solidified which direction he wanted to take after his career as a professional player came to an end. He became an entrepreneur, a pioneer of esports in both Spain and Europe in general, and alongside his staff he redefined what it takes to be a top organization in League of Legends.

We had the opportunity to speak with Ocelote heading into the Finals to get his perspective on what life was like in the beautiful country of Spain, his skyrocket into the spotlight as a top player, and the keys to founding and running an organization as prolific in accolades as G2 Esports.

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How Was Growing Up in Spain?

Ocelote: Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I was extremely lucky to be raised by a caring family that gave me the opportunity to build the unusual career path I chose to follow.

Before I found esports, I was always intrigued by competition and entertainment. I would take football matches very seriously in the afternoon, and have my friends laughing in tears in the evening. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, for the support of my family, and for my childhood spent in Spain.

What was the Professional League of Legends Scene like in Spain When Your Career Started in 2010?

Ocelote: Not very large. Even though I would use the fact that I was a professional player as an ice-breaker when flirting (it somehow worked!), Spain’s competitive landscape in League of Legends was almost nonexistent.

I am very proud of what the Spanish esports industry has accomplished in a short period of time. I know for a fact that Spain wouldn’t be in the dominant position it is today in League of Legends if it wasn’t for the great initiatives the Spanish community took, and continues to take today.

Spain has some of the most energetic, warm and loving people on earth and although I no longer have the luxury of living there, I work daily to help the scene grow so more players have the same access to the opportunities that I was given.

Spain has some of the most energetic, warm and loving people on earth.

Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago

You Became One of the Biggest Names in European League of Legends. What Do You Credit for Your Success?

Ocelote: I would credit this to my ambition and self reflection, but more importantly to having incredible mentors and partners and working with an all-star team.

I’ve always been highly ambitious, which has given me the kick I need in moments of weakness. My ambition keeps pushing me forward towards my dreams and allows me to stay hungry despite going through strong periods of success and failures.

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I’m also incredibly open to feedback and I put a great deal of importance on self-reflection. I’ve been incredibly lucky to find mentors like Jens Hilgers, an investor in G2 who gives me invaluable feedback when it comes to building a strong business. It is also important to note that G2 would not be where it is today without the phenomenal team behind it. I like to think of myself as a visionary, but when it comes down to it, none of our success would have been possible without this team that executes our shared vision.

You Made a Huge Transition From Player to Founder/Owner of G2. How Did That Happen?

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Ocelote: After nine years of esports competition, my will to compete as a professional player was coming to an end. Before this moment, I dreamt of League of Legends games, I played teamfights in my mind, I was taking showers thinking about creative build paths… I lived and breathed LoL day and night.

At a certain point, my dreams shifted to becoming an entrepreneur and business leader. All of a sudden, I wasn’t thinking about my own victories, but about my players’ victories. I wasn’t thinking about training myself, but about putting together beautiful training facilities where my players could enjoy a more effective practice. My whole scope and motivation shifted completely, but at the same time if felt like a natural evolution.

After some time, I decided to bootstrap my esports organization with what I learned as a player, and created G2.

When Did You Know You Wanted to Found a Team of Your Own?

Ocelote: I believe that teams exist to entertain the community, and at the time, I felt that was missing from the current teams in the ecosystem.

They all missed the mark. It is not enough to “just” follow your teams with a camera, subsequently creating reactive content that’s dependant on players having a good day. I dreamt of scripted content,  movies, and reality TV shows. I believe esports is the perfect combination of sport and entertainment, and I wanted to share my vision with the world.

My dream turned into reality when we created the most watched show on MTV Spain during 2016 called “Gamers”. It was a hit and I had a blast doing it. It was different, fun, unique, and slightly edgy.

The way I see myself, our players, and G2 Esports as a whole is the same way I see a gladiator: Coming to an arena to give his best for the sake of entertainment. We are that gladiator.

G2 has Perennially Been at the Top of the Table. What Are the Keys to Building Rosters that can Sustain Such High Levels of Play?

I look for players that not only have exceptional skill in-game, but who are charismatic, dedicated team players, and a good fit across the board.

Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago

Ocelote: When you are looking at the top 1% of pros, data can only tell you so much. We invest significantly in talent scouting. Not only are we searching for stars at the games, we are looking for a specific mindset and that star quality that numbers and statistics can’t tell you. I believe being a former pro myself really helps with this - I look for players that not only have exceptional skill in-game, but who are charismatic, dedicated team players, and a good fit across the board. Once we find these players, it is our mission to give them all the tools to succeed.

In the 2018 EU LCS Spring Split, G2 Struggled More than Usual, Even Though They Made It to the Finals. What Was that Like for the Squad?

Ocelote: Teams learn faster every day. The skill difference between Team #1 and Team #10 is far smaller than it was years ago. As a result of this fact, ladders are tighter as time goes by, and remaining at the top becomes a much more difficult challenge.

What Did You Learn About Your Current Roster?

Ocelote: If a decent player joins a group of people with ambitious-enough goals, the decent player may become a star player. The funny thing about positive peer pressure is that everybody demands high standards from the whole group, which subsequently increases the skill ceiling by default.

You’ve Turned G2 Esports Into One of the Biggest -- If Not the Biggest -- Teams in Europe. How Did You Build Up a Successful Endeavor So Quickly?

Ocelote: One thing I can tell for sure is the following: Wherever we got in this short amount of time, hasn’t happened without pain and failures. As with everything else, it was a combination of factors rather than a single thing that made it happen. What is really important to remember, that before you see the final product, you have to put in a significant amount of work. People look at G2 and its incredibly fast growth, and think there’s a “secret ingredient” to it all. There isn’t. The position we are in now wasn’t handed to us - the same way it wasn’t handed to any other successful organization in the LCS.

People look at G2 and its incredibly fast growth, and think there’s a “secret ingredient” to it all. There isn’t.

Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez Santiago

It comes at a price of sometimes having to completely discard weeks of work on content pieces we were initially very excited about but that didn’t match our image, coming in too late or simply of not good enough quality for our fans and us. In general, I think that leading a company to the place G2 is today is nothing but a byproduct of clear vision, proper structure, hard work and having the right team in place.

You’ve Been Known for Your Passion for the Game– Why was League of Legends Special for You?

Ocelote: League of Legends will always have a special place in my heart. With running an esports club, it’s very difficult to dedicate all of my time and energy towards one specific title. That aside, League of Legends is still a very important part of my life and I still consider myself to be very much part of the awesome community. Whenever I can, I travel to the LCS studio to cheer for our team. I was in Copenhagen this year and I will travel to Madrid. Nothing brings me more joy than sharing the arena experience with our roaring fans!

I still live and breathe the game and enjoy it as a player, owner, and as a fan. League of legends has been my greatest, most important teacher to date.

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