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One of our CSGO Benelux teams, would go abroad for the first time in our – still very short – history. After half a year of playing and improving, our CSGO team is one of the top 3 teams in the Benelux and the best Benelux team at Frag-o-Matic 16.1. They achieved - as you might remember - a third place, being defeated in the semi-finals by the French team Inetgamers. In the finals Inetgamers ended as second-best, after battling against the German team Druckwelle ESports, the winner of the tournament.

Logo LanExperience France

The LanEX tournament was focused on CSGO only and 32 teams showed up, most of them belonging to the vast sub-top of France. Teams from all parts of France were present, together with 1 German, 4 Belgium and 1 Dutch team: SDG. The price money (E 4,300) and the gear made this one of the heavier and interesting tournaments in the Masters Series in France. 

Some info on the French system might be useful, to understand what SDG was competing against. The national umbrella organization Lanalliance has 9 members: the biggest LAN organizations of France. Lanalliance organizes 3 (yearly revolving) championships. In each competition you can win points (besides prices and gear):

  • The Master Series, a series of app. 10-12 LAN’s per year where the top and sub top of the French teams play,
  • The General Series, where a bunch of a bot smaller and/or a bit less well organized LAN organizations have their competition,
  • Finally there are the Open Series organized by other, often newly started organizations.

At the end of the season the teams with the best results (most points) are invited to come to the Grand Final, where they fight for the title Champion of France.

So, facing such a huge, well organized and interesting competition in France, we became quite curious about the French E-sports scene and decided to request for an interview with the organization LanExperience. We talked with the president of LanExperience, Alexandre “Pyro” Haution,  a 24 year old sympathetic and at the same time very serious man. As our (ab)use of the French language is not really friendly for Frenchmen, we were grateful to have the valuable help of Michael “Evilmarmotte” Boom, who translated all in English and French.

The interview

We sit down with a coffee in the canteen of the Centre Socio Culturel and shook hands with Alex and Michael. 

Q: What about the history of LanExperience?

Alex face expresses enthusiasm. “It started all in 2001 with the founding of the association “Club Informatique” (School of IT). We had licenses for some well-known software at this small club, and we were teaching people off all ages about hardware and software. It was quite a success and at a certain moment, I think it was in 2003, 4 or 5 members wanted to start a LAN.  They organized it, we had that weekend about 20 players and our first LAN was a fact. As we experienced that year, it was a bit difficult to combine teaching with organizing a LAN, so we decided to found a new association: LanExperience - or as we more often say: LanEX - was born. We remained acting local in the years 2003 till 2007, being a stable organization. We focused on the youngsters in Assevent & our region.”

LanEX Eduction Room

And then Michael tells how Alex entered the organization: “That all changed in 2007, when Alex joined LanEX. At a big event, a ‘Salon Informatique’ in Maubeuge, some LanEX members met Alex. This salon was organized by a regional University and Alex was in this organization one of the specialists regarding local area networks and servers. As from that moment Alex made it possible together with the other members to let LanEX grow during the years 2007 – 2009 and LanEX became able to organize bigger and bigger tournaments. Since 2011 LanEX’ crew grew from app 10 to 30 crew members. By the way: LanEx focused on the title Counterstrike, which title was also during these years a worldwide growing interesting OPS (One Person Shooter)”

Which brings us to the next question: Did you play CS yourself, Alex?

Alex replies: “Yes, I was quite a fanatic CS 1.6 player, my nickname was ‘Pyro’. But since the end of the zero’s the yearly organizing of 2 LAN parties takes so much time, that I only have time to play for fun. And I still love to play! “ In 2011 Alex became President of LanEx and from that moment, on the aim is to have international teams also on this tournament. That’s a dream of Alex.  

Q: Why here in Assevent, why not in Paris?

With a big smile Alex replies: “I am born here and I do believe in the possibilities of this small but great village. I would love to show the world that we, in Assevent, can achieve the same as other, bigger cities.

LanEX Assevent

We have the knowledge, we have the people, we have the drive and we believe in E sports. So the question might also be: why not? The growth of our organization, as well with crew members, price money and number of teams show what we are capable of.“ And Alex explains further: “LanEx #19 is a Master tournament of the Videogame CSGO. We are member of the French national umbrella organization Lanalliance and LanEx #19 is one of the best paid high-level Master tournaments in France this year. When you look at the teams we can hardly predict who will win. I think there are almost 15 sub-top teams, from everywhere in France present at our LAN, meaning many of them have the quality to win. There are quite a lot of points to gain here, so there’s a lot at stake for the French teams.”

Q: And how do you see the future of LanEx, Alex?

Now Alex gets serious. “It is my dream to make this a big international tournament, where many teams from abroad visit us and are proud to play. That would make me proud too,” he smiles. “It really feels as being my baby. I have helped to let it grow, now I want to bring it to maturity! And of course there is still a lot we want to improve, like finding more sponsors & more English speaking admins, or growing to maybe even 1,500 players, like the Gamers Assembly of Futurolan, near Poitier in the southern part of France. And for the moment some small problems remain, as we have little or no influence on them. For example the internet bandwidth is only 4Mb. As the landlord of this Center decides on expanding it, we can only ask him politely to do so.”

Peter, Director Benelux of the Dutch CS:GO team, joins the interview. 

LanEX Interview with SDG

Q: Is it not difficult Alex, to combine your job, your family life and LanEX? 

“Absolutely. But thanks to our dedicated team of volunteers, we manage to organize 2 LANS a year. We have a core-group of active volunteers, who support the management of our association, and also a steady group of volunteers standby, with each their specialisms and qualities. And my private life? Luckily my girlfriend is the CFO of LanEX, so we are both quite busy with it.” This answers leads to some laughs and some teasing joking about the advantages of your wife being in charge of the money at the organization, when you need to spend money.”

Q: Is it difficult to start a LAN organization in France?

“No, it is very simple. If you intend to be a non-profit organization you can found an association for almost every project you can imagine. Of course there are many rules for security, safety, fire prevention, first aid, etc., but as the building is not ours but from our landlord it is him and his people, who are responsible for this all. We discuss many topics with him, but they have experience with many events of all kinds during the year in the center, so we can rely fully on their ability to handle that.

It is more a problem of limited growth. This building can contain up to 500 people. When we grow further we can add the small hall where the gamers slept this year to the space for where they play. There are a lot of hotels in the neighborhood, very cheap ones as well as some more luxury. And many teams are already used to sleep in hotels when they come to our event.”

Q: What is important, what makes the LanEX event unique? 

“I think it is the excellent ambience” Alex replies, “it is the family feeling we have here. Even as we have a lot of big names playing here, we think that gaming on a professional level also must be fun.” We – SDG - can only admit that we experience a relaxed atmosphere, with a lot of noisy enthusiastic gamers.

One last question Alex: is there a something you would like to share with our audience?

“Absolutely, I think it is our duty to help gamers, these youngsters, on their way to maturity. Like in the real world, they have to develop themselves, learn English for example. They need to learn how to act as a team and how to act as individual in a team. They need to learn values like respect, zero tolerance for violence or cursing, and that communication is a two way road. Let me tell you about my experience visiting other associations.  I visited quite a few and noticed a lack of communication between them. You can imagine you will achieve a lot more when you communicate and cooperate. Also I like to show older generations that gaming is not that "evil" as they - often - think. The prejudice of gamers being non-social, non-communicative nerds, playing violent games and being addicted to that is far away from the reality.“

LanEX Backstage

That being stated & noted, we finished the interview with a visit backstage, where we were quite impressed by the compact setup, the double backup structure and the relaxed professionalism the crew and admins show. We shook hands again and thanked our host Alex and temporarily translator Michael for the look inside the French scene. 

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