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Insight on opening a LANshop and Vietnam's eSports scene

RGN on 2011-05-09


Being an e-Sport gamer for a long time, Mr.Vu Thanh Cong understands every requirement and needs of a professional cyber gamer. His LAN shop, Cyzone have the basic settings of 5 PCs in a row, each with sufficient space and a comfortable zone.

To talk about eSport’s point of interest in Hanoi; Cyzone is unknown to none. And to those that have visited this place, they will know about this passionate man, known as Cyzone’s owner, who will help players with enthusiasm, to the extend that, occasionally, he himself will take part as player in matches between his clients, be it Counter Strike or DotA. Today, let us share a moment with Mr. Vu Thanh Cong, the mastermind behind the greatest “eSport empire” in Vietnam.


RGN exclusive interview:


RGN: Greetings Mr. Vu Thanh Cong, could you share with us the reason why you decided to open Cyzone?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

To be fair, it’s a long story. I was a member of the Counter Strike community from its very beginning; and with Mr. “Uzi” Phuong (another important member with great contribution to the Counter Strike community in Viet Nam), we created a small cybergame, namely “Volcano”, with hope that it will grow to be the professional environment for gamers with the same passion. But Volcano was struck by financial difficulties; and its service was inevitably ended. A place for Counter Strike gamers in Hanoi was lost; thus Mr.”Uzi” and I had to consider another measures.

And it was an ordinary day-out when we; “Uzi”, “Kit” (a Chinese character who also contributed a lot to the development of Counter Strike community in Vietnam), and “Khoai” Son (a veteran gamer of the community in Hanoi) all had the same vision about a eSport cybergame center for gamers. Back then, there were nothing created specifically for eSport, thus, lots of research on foreign cybergame centers’ structure design was done for better inspection. Eventually, in early 2009, Cyzone was officially open for business.

Cyzone was opened, first, to help eSport truly rise in Hanoi. It is our original purpose. However, it’s also for business purpose. If Cyzone had been non-profit like Volcano, it would have fallen into the same pit of financial problems; this issue is one that wanted by none. Furthermore, it would created a market, for example; when eSport grows, the need to use professional gaming gears will increase, thus creates a market for gaming gear manufacturers.


RGN: We happen to know that, you’re also an entrepreneur in gaming gear business in Vietnam. Could you tell us more about it?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

Back when I was an active player in eSports community, I have come to realize the potential of Counter Strike community, so I started expand to selling professional gaming gears. Although the community had yet to grow, thus the profit were not that great; but it was my intention to provide the best condition for everyone to fully reach their potential.


RGN: It must be tough on you, to run both businesses.

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

In the earlier phase of its service, Cyzone ran smoothly; however, there are still many issues. Most notably, is that the prices of almost everything were increased, from the facility fee to the staffs’ salary.

To make matters worse, the original investment is mostly loan, thus I have to pay the periodic interest. At the first glance, Cyzone may seem to be running great, but in the recent month, things have changed. Plus, the recent technical upgrade’s price is no small amount, stacking up the more financial problems.

Cyzone used to gain profit from holding events; however, since the interference of the Information Bureau, the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO game) market in Vietnam has been negatively affected. Publishers are almost forbidden to hold events to advertise their games, generally affected Cyzone in the same negative way. Cyzone was built specifically for eSport gamers, thus, casual gamers that are mostly interested in MMO games appears less and less as the day goes by, as they feel distinctive among the eSport gamers. Recently opened cyber games lanshop put up a certain business competition as well.


RGN: Facing soo much difficulties, what measures did you take to counter all this?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

In fact, beside Counter Strike players, the amount of DotA players that frequently come to Cyzone as a place to play is quite a lot; so I want to develop this community as well. As a result, I have offered a price of <3.500 vnd/h> to Counter Strike and DotA team if they would like to train at Cyzone. Personally I think this is a reasonable price, on par with, or even lower than the average price. Hopefully, this will support the evolution of DotA in Cyzone.

Not only that, but I also support DotA competitive scene through the Cyzone Monthly Tournament system. Instead of focusing in quantity like before, I raised the prize and limited the amount of entry to increase the quality of the tournament. Along with considering participants’ feedback; the time at which the tournament in held has been adjusted, result in more attentions.


RGN: Is there anything that you would like to make about eSport in Vietnam?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

The DotA movement in Vietnam is unstable, strong at some period, but falls into silence at others. Generally, most of the activities are held by the players themselves, those that are enthusiastic and passionate but lack political and financial power. Perhaps, to those that possess such luxuries, eSport is of no profit or simply failed to meet certain business requirements. This is the biggest hindrance to Vietnam e-Sports community.

Instability proves to be another factor to cause hesitation to sponsors who want to invest in this particular area. For example; a DotA team compete at a tournament with five members, however, they compete at another with different members; while sponsors always demand stability to have the firmest grasp of the situation. Most DotA teams in Vietnam are unaware of such matter. There used to be some great sponsors like Microsoft or Razer who want to sponsor for certain gamers, and when they come to me for advices, I find it hard to select the appropriate ones simply because of said problem.


RGN: Being a eSport gamer before, do you have any advices for your juniors?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

For gamers who want to have professional career, the only thing they can do for now is to improve their skill. By what means? By training hard with better opponents. At the moment, we have yet the power to compete with nations that have powerful gaming industry such as Korea or China; so it’s hard for gamers to have salary simply for training, they will have to manage by themselves. Training at well-known LAN shops with proper equipments will partly help them at that.

Participating in online and offline competitions is another way to greatly increase skills and will in matches.

At Cyzone, I see that there are matches with bet for fun. Although it’s just some small prize to bet, it keeps the participants go on and on.

To be fair, in my opinion there is not a team or player that can be considered “professional”, because, professionalism is the harmony between behaviors in normal life as well, not just in game. Currently, the environment in Vietnam does not provide sufficient conditions to be developed to professional level. To reach that aim, there’s still much to do. Rome wasn’t built in one night.


RGN: Could you reveal some of the upcoming plans of Cyzone?

Mr. Vu Thanh Cong:

At the moment, I’m sponsoring two DotA team, which are <Cyzone.DotA and Cyzone.Like> with an offered price of <1.000 vnd/h>. If it’s possible, I would like to make the same offer to the other teams as well, helping them pursue the road of professional e-Sport gamer.

In addition, I will try to find sponsor for tournaments, as well as other teams in Vietnam. Though I can’t say much about the future, it will be my most prioritized long-term aim. I hope to contribute to the development of eSport in Vietnam.


RGN: Thank you for your time Mr. Vu Thanh Cong, we wish you all the best in your businesses.


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