Entity Reveals Hardships it Faced While Setting Up a Bootcamp Amidst the Russia-Ukraine War
In our "Men of Culture” podcast, AFK Gaming had an engaging conversation with Entity Gaming's co-owners Varun Bhavnani and Neerav Rukhana. The organization’s Dota 2 team is currently based in Europe and participates in Division I of the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) Western Europe league alongside top contenders like Team Liquid, Tundra Esports, and OG. In the podcast, the co-owners talked about their decision to turn to Europe and Dota 2 to continue their esports journey. They also talked about the challenges they faced and how they set up a bootcamp in Poland amidst the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Entity Gaming on investing in the European Dota 2 scene
Varun Bhavnani and Neerav Rukhana talked extensively about investing resources in Entity Gaming’s Dota 2 team which is based in Europe. While they acknowledged investing in European esports was a ballsy move, Neerav stated that it was a dream of theirs to play in The International (TI). He explained that they reached out to various Dota 2 personalities in Europe to gauge the scene and quickly realized that it would be an expensive venture for Entity Gaming. Neerav added, “If we manage to make it in the most competitive region in the world, that’s the definition of success.”
The organization first reached out to Creepwave, a team that had Dzmitry “Fishman” Palishchuk and Ammar “ATF” Al-Assaf. Neerav said three days before signing the contract, they learned that ATF was going to join OG along with Bozhidar "bzm" Bogdanov. Though they were disappointed with the move, Neerav said it gave Entity confidence that it was looking in the right direction.
Following this, Entity Gaming started in Division II and worked its way through to Division I with sheer hunger and dedication. However, the organization has had its share of challenges amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Setting Up a Bootcamp Amidst Sanctions & Travel Bans
Varun and Neerav said they were in Katowice, Poland to finalize the Dota 2 lineup and to eye the Counter-Strike environment. They said their main goals were to understand the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene and to finalize a bootcamp for the Dota 2 team. “At the crux of all of that, the conflict [Russia-Ukraine war] happened,” said Varun.
Neerav added, “That was a big question mark for us. Whether we continue to set up the bootcamp or not. Even through all of that, we were like, ‘Let’s just set up in Poland. We need to have a bootcamp for sure because that’s something we wanted to provide now that we’re a Division I team.”
Neerav said that Entity finally set up a bootcamp in Poland and added, “Right after we set up, you got the whole s***storm of sanctions, travel bans, surging airfares.” He explained that a flight from Warsaw to Berlin cost around $1000-1500 USD. “It has been insanely expensive for us. I remember once in the blink of an eye spent four grand ($4000 USD for one ticket) on a domestic ticket,” Neerav added.
Apart from the fact that domestic flights were expensive, the co-owners talked about other major issues including visa troubles. Neerav said there were times when Entity players were awfully close to being late to events and how they found it difficult to make transactions from India amidst the sanctions. However, Neerav and Varun stated that Entity luckily navigated through this difficult phase.
Neerav said, “Lucky for us, we had players who were really understanding of the situation. They were really mindful of the situation. If this had been in India, if there was a delay or something, there would have been a social media post about it [delay in payment].”
Varun also added that the relationship between Entity as an organization and the players has matured over time and they are proud of the team. “We are proud of our boys. Whatever they are achieving, be it on the good days and the bad days, we stand by them. This team is definitely going to make a lot of noise. Trust me.”
Varun and Neerav also explained how they had to travel with refugees getting out of conflict zones and how the whole geo-political situation was a major reality check for them.