Viktor Wanli explains Team Kinguin’s short-lived rebrand to Black Devils
Team Kinguin no longer exists. Once well-known as the esports arm of digital marketplace Kinguin, the organisation went under a rebrand in January of this year – though it didn’t last long before another major change came. Black Devils was originally what Team Kinguin became, but it was soon met with questions surrounding the naming and people were quick to point out that some may find it offensive.
On February 19th, another new set of branding was debuted to the world in place of Black Devils: devils.one. This identity is a lot less controversial on the surface, leaving no room for people to attribute it to anything that could potentially offend. The rocky reception to Black Devils wasn’t expected by the team behind the organisation and they’re convincing in the fact that they never sought to hurt or upset anybody.
During a visit to Kinguin’s Esports Performance Center in Warsaw, Poland, we sat down with Viktor Wanli, Founder and CEO of Kinguin to learn about the ordeal.
Esports Insider: Why did you decide to rebrand Team Kinguin to devils.one?
Viktor Wanli: In business terms, we have achieved such maturity of the business team to such a level that they were already actually to go into the next step.
Years ago, I tried to have an organisation which was supported by Kinguin but it wasn’t a success. I couldn’t get the people from Kinguin to be engaged enough in [Nihilum Gaming] and I didn’t have sufficient resources to enable an organisation to be operated on a high level from the very start. That was a big lesson.
We did a rebrand to Team Kinguin, we engaged lots of company resources on the project and then it proved to be much more successful because, simply, the people felt more engaged in the brand they’ve been working for so many years. Gradually, the team has matured in terms of its structure, its talent, its independence from Kinguin, and so on.
“I looked very intensively into the heritage and history of Poland”
Finally, we managed to make a very important hire in Maciej Sawicki, the head of the organisation. He brought on lots of talent from a team he used to work with and they were a good mix with our existing talent and it brought it us another professional level. Right now you may say, commercially-speaking, devils.one is the most successful organisation we have in Poland in both sports and esports.
ESI: What’s the story behind the Black Devils branding you temporarily adopted?
VW: The idea behind Black Devil’s was very simple. I looked very intensively into the heritage and history of Poland to see whether we can find a dynamic name for the organization that also relates to some history of the proud Polish nation. I found out that in the second World War, there was just one actually armoured division of the Polish army and it had a nickname of the ‘black devils.’
We were quite surprised by the reception. Of course, we had to take it into context the realities which will face from a non-English speaking country. It was a miscalculation. However, to be honest, the final action which really forced us into rethinking this very seriously was basically being banned from posting from the Black Devils account on Facebook. The platform would actually liquidate any comments from the account.
ESI: How did you get to the identity of devils.one after you decided to leave Black Devils behind?
VW: The guys in charge of the management of the team really stepped up to the case and they declared that they would have a solution to the issue. I let them work very creatively on topic and they came with several propositions on how to deal with the issue including a completely new name of the team. Through a joint discussion, we decided that we want to stick to the ‘devils’ as a keyword – we had already produced lots of messaging and defined values around it.
One of the propositions was to have the organisation named as ‘devils.one’; keeping the ‘devils’ but adding on to that while keeping the base values and the branding work we had already done so far.