Interview: British Vainglory pro Palmatoro
Alessandro "Palmatoro" Palmarini is a 17-year-old Vainglory player for London-based esports giant Fnatic.
As someone who's taken a gap year to focus on his esports career, we ask him he balances esports with studying, and what he thinks of the growing Vainglory scene...
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your background, and how you got into Vainglory/esports.
My name is Alessandro Palmarini and my in-game name is Palmatoro. I'm 17 years old and from Scotland. I first came across Vainglory about two and a half years ago when I saw it on the Apple Keynote.
I had exams and my parents had taken away my PS4. All I had was my iPad so I downloaded Vainglory and instantly fell in love with it. Even though I played a lot of PS4 games I had no idea about eSports and competitive gaming. It wasn't until I had reached high tiers in Vainglory just by playing for fun that I was introduced to tournaments and eSports as a whole.
When I knew I had the potential to win money and compete in tournaments for Vainglory, my attitude towards the game changed a lot. Initially I was just playing casually and for fun, but then I wanted to improve my skills and practice all the time.
The first time I knew it was something I would eventually want to do professionally and full time was after winning the first European Championship in Poland (Winter 2015). It involved the top eight teams and my team had only came ninth in the qualifiers which meant we had just missed out. However one of the teams dropped out and it gave us the chance to compete and go on to win it as the underdogs.
Congratulations on joining Fnatic.
What's it like being part of such an established organisation, how does it feel
to have joined them and what's your time been like with Fnatic so far?
Although we've only been with Fnatic for a few months we have really appreciated all their knowledge and support. Our manager Careion, who Fnatic provided, looks after our team and is super useful and helpful.
Myself and one of my other teammates are finishing school this year and it's often very hard to train and study at the same time. Our team is doing okay, but it could be better. Fnatic is aware of our plans and have supported us.
What are your thoughts on the current
state of Vainglory esports?
Vainglory esports has changed a lot in the last year. The Spring Championships for example will be the first Unified Championships bringing together North American and European teams.
It's a new tournament structure that offers a higher level of competition. Personally, I'm really excited about how far Vainglory has come and that we're seeing more and more fans and viewers than ever before.
What do you think of Vainglory 8 and the fact that big organisations like Fnatic are embracing the game?
It's great to see how the game has developed and how many more teams have joined.
It really makes all the hard work worthwhile when big organisations like Fnatic come on board and recognise your game alongside all the other esports titles out there.
As someone from Scotland, what are your
thoughts on the UK esports scene at the moment? What can be done to help
I'm more focused on Vainglory as opposed to the esports scene in general but there seems to be a lot more homegrown talent for Vainglory in terms of players and casters which is great. And we're doing more and more with the community in the UK.
We just had a community event at the Fnatic Bunkr so people can meet up and play together. I'm not sure if you see the same for other games but it would be great to see more people getting involved with esports in general.
The majority of people wouldn't know that esports exists or how to get involved. I certainly didn't until Vainglory. It would be great to change that and to see more opportunities to get together and play whichever game they're interested in.
You are 17 years old and are taking a
gap year to go pro. We've seen several players take a break for a year to focus
on esports. What is the importance of this and what was the thinking behind the
gap year, what are your goals for the year?
I have a rare opportunity that I know a lot of other people would love to do. I really just want to make the most of it and take it as far as I can. By taking a year off from school before university I will have a lot less distractions and more time to work and train with my team.
As our whole team will be playing full time during this year we have big goals on winning the Summer Unified Championship, and have the team synergy needed to take on the top few teams at Worlds.
British Vainglory player Mrkcool became
one of the youngest esports pros last year when he played in the Vainglory
Winter Championship at just 13 years old. Do you think mobile esports like
Vainglory are friendlier to younger players and easier for them to get noticed?
I think it's super friendly, for younger kids especially, as they are controlling everything directly with their fingers (for example they are touching the exact place the hero will move to), rather than through a keyboard or controller.
And I really believe any good player in Vainglory will be noticed as there are so many pro players playing in ranked queue everyday. So if you are good enough to get to the top tiers you will be noticed by the top teams.
What advice would you give to other
aspiring esports professionals looking to make a name in the scene?
Keep working hard and having fun.
Don't get too mad or wound up after losses - just focus on what you can do better and you'll get whatever it is you want to achieve.
What are your biggest achievements so far?
Winning three European championships back-to-back.
What are your long-term aims and
ambitions in esports?
For now it's simply just to become the best possible player I can be and helping to build the synergy and structure in our team to eventually become the best team in the world.