The plan was for the Dallas Empire’s work space to be in an open area of Envy Gaming’s headquarters, a third-floor, open-concept level located at Victory Plaza in downtown Dallas, right next to American Airlines Center.
Ian “Crimsix” Porter, the winningest Call of Duty player in the esport’s history, had some reservations.
“I was like ‘dude, you can’t put a Call of Duty team in an open area,’” Porter recalled telling Envy Chief Gaming Officer Mike Rufail. “‘You are going to be able to hear us shouting from all over the office.’”
Rufail obliged Porter’s request. While that wasn’t the all-defining decision in the Empire’s run to a Call of Duty League world championship, it’s what came to mind when Porter was asked about Envy’s dedication to its players and teams.
Last year could’ve been a tough one for Envy. It didn’t get to use its office building often due to the global pandemic. Players, rookies and veterans across six different esports titles were confined to their homes instead of the true collaboration effort they were used to.
While 2020 was tumultuous for many, it was a year of championships and empire-building for esports powerhouse org Envy Gaming. While the biggest hurdle could’ve been a deadly virus, the most noticeable scratches were in team results.
Some teams brought trophies home to Envy’s headquarters, but others collapsed in dramatic fashion.
Envy’s teams still accomplished a lot in a calendar year — esports benefited from the ability to compete remotely. This year is already kicking off as the Empire start the Call of Duty League preseason Saturday before the regular season starts Feb. 11. The org’s Overwatch League squad, the Dallas Fuel, which had a disastrous close to their third season, follow with a new roster and April start date. The Fuel also are scheduled for preseason competition this weekend.
But before that, take a look back at Envy’s year. It wasn’t all roses, and not every team was able to win a world title, but most of Rufail’s squads were always in the mix.
Crimsix and the Empire were the ultimate accomplishment.
“Winning the inaugural championship with Call of Duty League was really nice and something you can’t beat when you are number one in the history books,” Rufail said. “We won the first league title, so I think that was the highlight of our year.”
State of Envy
Envy survived as a business, first and foremost. The Empire wouldn’t have won a championship if Rufail and company weren’t able to stay afloat and keep the business running.
Still a small start-up business, Envy qualified for a PPP loan back in April, and Rufail said he used the $1 million to take care of his employees. While adjustments were made all around the Envy staff, the team didn’t have to make overall cuts.
It was actually the opposite.
“We actually grew our staff during the…
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