Meet D13, the Mongolian team who relocated to Europe
Enkhmanlai "world" Batbayar — a man who appears to do everything at D13 as the owner, coach, manager, and main investor — went on a seemingly innocent vacation a few weeks ago. Now his whole team has relocated to Turkey to compete in Europe.
"I went to Turkey for vacation in late July, and I saw this internet café. There was a guy who was playing CS:GO with 40 ping, so I asked what server he was playing on, and he said Germany," world began to explain. "At that moment, I realized we could move here, because we don't need visas to enter Turkey. I discussed it with my teammates, and they all happily agreed to come here."
In a spur-of-the-moment decision, the entire team arrived at the Istanbul airport 10 days later, ready to leave everything behind for at least a year to chase their shared dream of playing at the biggest tournaments CS:GO has to offer.
D13 had already been trying to take part in European competitions, but it had been understandably difficult to make it work from Mongolia, in a region where chances to play against the world's top teams come few and far between these days. Playing on a ping of well over 100, they still managed to make it through ESEA Open in early 2021 and have been competing in Main for the past couple of seasons, but to advance the ranks further and become a legitimate force in Europe the Mongolian side simply had to move closer for latency reasons alone.
"I still can't believe I'm here in Turkey," the second-youngest member of the team, 18-year-old Enkhbat "xerolte" Munkhtogtokh, said the day after he and the rest of the squad arrived. "I've never even been overseas, so I was pretty excited to bootcamp in Turkey. It was like a dream, and it happened so fast, we made our decisions in like a week. We only came yesterday and our bootcamp apartment was almost all ready, it was a surprise for all of us."
world managed to make it happen not only in an impossibly short timeframe and in what was an entirely impulsive move, but also with next to no financial support from anyone else. The owner is paying the vast majority of all expenses out of his own pocket with money he earns via a small online store business back home, which he now operates remotely on his own in addition to his responsibilities in the organization.
But even though so much rests on him, the 32-year-old doesn't seem to mind juggling several different roles. He is driven by his and his team's love for the game and the goal of establishing D13 among European competition. "We love this game. I love this game and my team. I know my organization is little, but my players have good potential and talent. I want us to learn from European teams," world said. "We are still nothing, but we will work hard. If you try hard, nothing is impossible."
world's plan is for the team to stay in Europe for at least the next year, no matter what happens. If he is able to secure additional funds for the organization and sort out visas, the team could be making another move to Latvia towards the end of 2021, but if not, Turkey will remain the Mongolians' home in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, it's all about seizing every opportunity D13 can find and absorbing all the invaluable experience they can while they are there.
"Honestly, I want to participate in at least one top-tier tournament to play with the big boys," xerolte shared when talking about the goals he has set for himself. "Playing with 130+ ping to Europe from Mongolia has been hard, but it's much more manageable in Turkey. I'm super happy now. I'm ready for a challenge to play against any European teams."
It might take a while before D13 make a name for themselves, but the fact that they are the only Asian team currently competing in Europe could already make them stand out from the crowd of teams tournament organizers choose from. While far from successful, the Mongolian squad have shown the ability to hang with some of the best teams in the region in the past, and they have an interesting group of players.
The AWPer, 22-year-old Tuvshintugs "Annihilation" Nyamdorj, in particular is a player to watch out for, as he has been one of D13's standout members ever since he joined at the beginning of 2020 and is the one the team will rely on in their European quest following the loss of their star rifler Tengis "sk0R" Batjargal in June. The rest of the lineup consists of a good combination of experience and youth, with the two long-time members and the oldest of the bunch, Telmen "shinobi" Batzorig and in-game leader Munkhtamir "tamir" Ganbaatar, complemented by a couple of young rifles in 18-year-old xerolte and 16-year-old Yalalt "yAmi" Oyunbileg.
It's unlikely that the Mongolian side will hit the ground running considering their lack of experience, but there is no denying that every time Asian teams get to compete in Europe they bring a certain flair and have an air of unpredictability around them, which should certainly make them an intriguing squad to follow. Only time will tell just how well they will be able to do and if we're going to look back at this move a year from now and praise the decision.