Search for gaming house tours on YouTube, and you’ll find dozens of videos of pro gamers showing off their sweet cribs. Though this might seem normal now, team houses have only been around in the Western esports scene for about 6 years. It all started back in 2011, when TSM decided to move in together with a simple goal in mind: to replicate the Korean practice environments that have been tried and proven since the Starcraft days.
Naturally, TSM was also the first to deal with the powder keg that houses like this can produce. The recipe for disaster is pretty simple: take a group of young men, some living on their own for the first time ever, with a group of friends, no supervision or rules, and it’s easy to see how things can go off the rails.
Take something as simple as eating. In 2017, orgs often showcase delicious, nutritious team meals that would impress Gordon Ramsay. In 2012, TheOddOne was dining exclusively on Arizona Iced Tea and junk food. The result was a health condition that included fever, skin peeling, and pain. It was pretty much pro-player scurvy.
Teams also had more than just diet to worry about. Spaces that were too small could bring exhausted players into close quarters, making it easy for tensions to rise into passive-aggressive cold wars. Differing and unhealthy sleep schedules led to unproductive practice, and the cleanliness of the space was also a constant issue.
Despite these challenges, gaming houses were never abandoned, because the advantages are so clear: you can get everyone together within minutes, scrim all day, at any hour, and on top of that, constantly build synergy both in and out of game as a team. So instead of giving up on the concept, orgs decided to evolve.