The startup that trains serious Fortnite players

You know esports has joined the mainstream when colleges start offering scholarships to virtual athletes.

The University of Miami, the University of Missouri, and the University of Texas at Dallas all offer scholarships of about $10,000 to promising players of video games such as Fortnite, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends.

There is even a professional association: the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Among the 100 schools in North America that offer esports, scholarships have grown by about 480% in the past year.

But where can serious competitors train? Israeli startup has the answer for the hugely popular Fortnite gamers, which has around 80 million monthly users and over 350 million player accounts.

For a monthly subscription of $9.90, budding and expert players alike can watch regular training videos and participate in weekly interactive sessions.

The average subscriber trains about nine hours a week at Novus, logging in at least once a day.

Novos’ algorithms customize what the player needs to work on next. All data comes from the player’s interaction with the computer, as opposed to real-world sports training techniques, such as PlayerMaker, which has developed a physical sensor worn in the player’s shoes to track performance.

“Most players are basically clueless about what to do, they just play,” explains Or Brega, CEO of Novos. “When you compare it to any other sport, it doesn’t make sense.”

kind of geek

Prega should know: He’s been playing games for as long as he can remember. Briga grew up in Karmiel, northern Israel’s Galilee, where “other than the three-day dance festival every year, there’s nothing else going on. I fell in love with games. I grew up like a bit of a geek,” he told Israel 21c.

After serving in the IDF, Briga moved to Hong Kong for two years to work for El Al Security. During his spare time, he became part of an amateur esports team called “The Aliens…because we were all. It was a great experience, and we knew it was only a matter of time before you got to the West.”

Briga returned to Israel to study law at Reichsmann University (formerly IDC) in Herzliya. While on the Zell Entrepreneurship, he met Shay Arnon, who would become his founding partner at Novos.

Founders Novus OR Brega, left, and Shay Arnon. Image courtesy of Novus

“We were both passionate about games and knew we wanted to do something to help the players improve. We didn’t know how at the time,” says Brega.

Slowly, what would become Novus began to take shape.

deliberate practice

“We use a ‘deliberate practice’ methodology where we take an activity and break it down into small parts,” Brigga told ISRAEL21c.

Take dunking, for example.

In the real world, “Most people will take the ball and try to sink it. We ask, ‘How do you jump?'”

If Novus was training real players on a physical court, “we would have the players jump in and out of the box, to improve their muscle memory. Next, they grab the ball with one hand and they jump. The third step would be to catch the ball and jump in and out of the box. Only then would they start dipping the ball Already “.

Novos does the same with games. “You need to build a muscle memory about the mechanics of the game, how to use the keyboard and mouse. It’s not something you do once but a process. That’s why people love Lionel Messi. [the Argentinian soccer champ] Go to regular training.”

A typical day for training at Novus’ starts with a warm-up. Then we move on to the main event, like ‘clicking’ – a skill in which you can move the mouse very quickly in one direction to another. There is a technique and we show the players how to do it right. Only then do we send the players to Fortnite with a specific map of where they can practice what they just learned.”

While the videos are hosted by gaming experts, nothing on Novos is truly live streamed. “It was very important to be as scalable as possible,” Brega says.

Fame and glory

The Novos interactive feature “takes a specific situation, shows a minute-long video, and then asks the player, ‘What are you going to do? “They should take into account all the criteria that will help in making the decision: who the team members are, what the area and rotation are. Then you get a brief explanation of why what you did was right or wrong.”

What motivates players to spend $10 a month to develop their game? “After talking to thousands of players,” Briga says, “there are three reasons that are creeping up on the top.

  • the win. Players love criticism and being on a professional team.
  • Fame and glory. This is what motivates gamers to broadcast their gaming prowess on platforms like Twitch for others to watch.
  • social acceptance. For geeks like Brega, this was the key. “The players today are so great. It’s like being a footballer.”

big job

Online games are big business. The first Fortnite World Cup was held in New York in 2019 and received a prize of $30 million; The biggest winner received $3.5 million. He was only 16 years old at the time.

Preja says he was just not so lucky. “He is a really talented player. It is all about the skills at the end of the day.”

Novos is aimed at the amateur market, as the pros already have “game classes, where all the players will live in a house,” Briga explains. “The second floor is where they stay, and the first floor is where they train. They have a chef cooking their meals, a fitness trainer and an analyst to go through the data. They do physical exercises and mindfulness; they learn breathing exercise and how it all affects gaming performance.”

In other words, professionals have moved beyond the video training platform.

Despite the similarities and burgeoning scholarship, esports is still very different from real-life sports.

“In football, nobody owns this sport,” Brega notes. “In esports, the game publisher owns the game itself.” And video games “are constantly evolving and changing. After three to four months, the publisher will release a new season or chapter.”

Even the rules may change. “So, we need to create new training plans all the time,” which isn’t that easy because “publishers keep these changes secret!” However, Brega says, “We can usually respond within a day with new material.”

Earlier this year, Novos organized an in-person gaming tournament among high-tech companies in Israel, co-sponsored by Geektime. Nearly 200 companies entered the tournament at the NOM Gaming Lounge in Tel Aviv.

A team from Palo Alto Networks won first place in the gaming tournament run by Novis in Tel Aviv. Image provided by Novis

Users all over the world

In the six months since Novos launched in Tel Aviv, the company has amassed players from all over the world, including from Japan, Korea and the Philippines, as well as from its North American and European base.

The language of instruction is English. 17 Novus employees work in Singapore, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and Israel.

Novus employees (and a dog) in Tel Aviv. Image courtesy of Novus

Briga doesn’t say exactly how many users the company has (Calcalist reported in 2021 that the company has trained 50,000 players) although Briga does allow that number today is likely “over 100,000”.

In April, Novus raised $6 million on a tour led by MizMaa Ventures. The company previously raised $750,000 in 2019.

As is usual these days, we asked Briga if Covid-19 has changed the way the company operates.

He admits that “Covid helped”. “Now we have a new type of player who hasn’t played before. They may have been football or basketball players, and they weren’t able to play their sport during the pandemic. All of their friends have been playing Fortnite and now they have this gap for a year. So, they have been looking for ways to train.” .

As for the name Novus, it sounded good to Briga. The suffix “gg” stands for “a little island in the middle of nowhere,” says Brigga. But for players, it means ‘good game.’ Players send ‘gg’ to each other if it’s a good game, or if there’s nothing left for the player to do, they send ‘gg’ in chat to surrender.”

Don’t give in to your gaming frustrations. To learn more about how to train with the best, click here

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