Pentanet.GG’s arrival into the Oceanic Pro League surprised everyone — including the organization’s general manager Pete Curulli. But, the Perth-based ISP is ready to build their own home in professional gaming, and a new hub for esports in Australia.
Almost every day, I ride the train on the Joondalup Line past Perth Arena, a 15,000 capacity stadium. I’ve dreamed on more than one occasion that one day we could bring MSI, or an CS:GO minor, and host it on the same court that the Wildcats have won 4 titles in the last five years on.
Pentanet is looking to realise dreams like that, and build a new hub for esports in Australia. The OPL’s newest team isn’t a massive name yet, but a Perth startup, built out of an ISP hosted solely in WA, led by a Perth boy through and through.
General Manager Pete Curulli has been working with Pentanet for almost a year, gearing up an organization ready to take the next step in growing esports not just in Perth, but Australia.
“We’ve been working with Pentanet for eight months, planning a strategy for esports in Australia, but in particular Perth,” he said.
“It’s taken a fair bit of time, working hard on the processes behind it, going hard in building networks and structures ?— but it’s not a minor play, we want to be around for decades.”
A decades-long investment into esports doesn’t just mean picking up a pro team though. While the acquisition of the Bombers’ OPL slot came after a few weeks of negotiation, Pentanet and Curulli are looking towards the next generation.
“The top end of Pentanet ?— they’re gamers. I’m a gamer, but we’ve never had anything we could build out of in Perth,” he said. “There’s a bunch of smaller opportunities yes, but nobody has gone to the trouble of bringing good organizational strategy and passion for esports together. We never had those growing up, and we want to develop them for the next generation.”
Curulli has been involved in other Perth-based esports ventures in the past looking to help build a new culture in the industry. He was a part of Flaktest Gaming, a high school esports league based out of WA covering games like League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch.
It’s been his passion to try and grow the scene here in Perth and empower everyone, rather than rebuild it from the ground up and wipe out the competition.
“There’s plenty of great esports happening in Perth, from universities to high schools, and other organizations,” said Curulli. “Ground Zero is an all time favourite of mine, and Perth is their home base. We want to build on that, rather than tear each other down.
“We want Perth to be self-sufficient and supportive of its own benefits to esports. We aren’t building out just an OPL opportunity, but a full ecosystem and industry in WA. We want these pathways to grow young and for old.
“We have to support the individual as they grow through the system, but that individual also has to take on the roles and responsibilities around them and understand that esports is about collaboration and teamwork.”
— Pentanet.GG (@PentanetGG) December 9, 2019
One of these pathways is through the OPL. It’s their first venture into professional esports as a company, and came a lot sooner than they were expecting. However, with the perfect step into the industry right in front of them, Pentanet seized it with both hands.
“We always wanted to look at the OPL to add genuine opportunity and create a professional pathway for Perth esports players wanting to go pro,” he said. “When the Bombers opportunity came up, we thought this was a good a time as any, and took it.”
The OPL, or any professional league, is the final step in a four-tiered pyramid that Curulli dreams of building. Pentanet doesn’t just want to bring players up from grassroots to pro, but an entire ecosystem of casters, support staff, coaches and more.
“We want to build a program from grassroots through to elite, starting in schools and universities before hitting the pro leagues,” he said. “We want talent nurtured through our system to go on and have long careers not just as pros, but holistically in esports as a whole.
“It’s not about who plays the best game or what happens in-game, but teaching wider skills and respect as professional athletes and support staff in a cutting-edge industry.”
“I want to see someone who was born in Perth, bred in Perth, developed a passion in gaming at a young age, ran through our programs through school into university, moving through tiers of industry from grassroots to semi-pro and elite, and seeing them hold a World Championship title above their head, knowing that they spent time in our ecosystem. That to me is the dream.”
Curulli also believes that Perth is the perfect place to build such an industry. Perth’s western hub into Europe and Asia has a lot of opportunity to bring the world’s best players to Australia.
“There’s a lot more to it than just saying come here and play in Perth,” he said. “There’s opportunities for tourism, new tech developments, employment and more.
“Attracting talent from SEA to Perth is a big plus in general, not just for esports. It shows off Perth in a different light, and puts us on the map as a genuine player in the tech world.”
As for what Pentanet.GG have in the works, Curulli had two words ?— “stay tuned.”
“Everyone thinks we’ve appeared out of nowhere and bought an OPL slot, but it’s been a long time coming and strategically planned. We need to go at our own pace and not rush it, so we can carefully craft and nurture an ideal ecosystem.
“There’s a lot of great stuff on the way, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone when the time is right.”