He’s competed in local Dota 2 tournaments for 10 years and had the privilege of attending some notable international ones, like the Shanghai Major, as a stats man and caster. We are, of course, talking about local Dota 2 knowledge fountain, Anthony ‘scant’ Hodgson. We’ve tapped into said knowledge fountain to get his thoughts on what we need to do to get LAN tournaments right in South Africa.
Anyone who watched the Shanghai Major will know that it did not go well. At points it felt more like watching bad reality TV than a premier eSports event. Actually, that might not be a terrible idea. An eSports reality show anyone? We’ll just file that away under “Million rand ideas” for now and focus on how local tournament organisers can avoid making the errors of Shanghai. And what scant thinks we can do to improve the quality of eSports events in South Africa. Firstly:
“Absolutely everything should be tested well in advance. And then tested again, and again, and again. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a South African LAN which didn’t have problems which could have been avoided if more time was put into testing equipment, internet, etc. beforehand.”
You can never do enough testing. How many times have we seen events starting late, streams being unreliable or the audio not working? What you’re not seeing while this is happening are the people behind the scenes panicking, trying desperately to work out what is wrong. It’s an awful situation to be in. For everyone. Players are trying to stay focused, fans just want to enjoy the game and the production team want to keep their jobs, unlike the production team in Shanghai.
So don’t just test to make sure everything works and then call it a day. Test against all possible scenarios. Get creative. You’ll wish you had if something goes wrong. Technical issues aside, what are the most important things for local tournament organisers to focus on if they want to make sure their events are successful?
“I feel like there’s probably two major groups you want to keep happy – the players and the audience. So you need people involved in organisation dedicated to both.
If you keep the players comfortable they will want to return to your event. One of the big things in this regard on the international scene is practice areas – players want to be able to practice in their own areas on their off days or in between matches. In South Africa we hardly have much time off at events, and most LANs don’t even have great areas for the actual matches, so in this respect we’re far behind.”
The Telkom DGL at rAge in Cape Town was the best tournament we’ve ever had in South Africa. You’ll remember from one of our previous articles that both James ‘zerOchaNce’ Wijnberg and Warrick ‘fr0st’ Noble were very impressed with the set up. If you were at the event you will also remember that the area for the matches was superb. zerOchance and fr0st both agreed that the booths were of a world class standard.
But to scant’s point, it was over in a flash. There were no down days. Matches were back to back and before you knew it the whole thing was over. Maybe we need to consider if there is merit to drawing tournaments out a bit and prolonging the experience for everyone. We know that comes with its own issues, paying more to rent the location and equipment, but at the same time if the experience is better for everyone involved, the investment might be worth it.
“In terms of keeping viewers happy, this is about running a smooth production without delays or problems. You need an experienced production team – the director, technical staff, interviewers, commentators and such all need to know their positions well. Of course our viewer base is still small, but we’re starting to have some of our stuff on TV even, and to keep viewers interested you really need to be selling a professional product.”
In South Africa we always seem to have some sort of technical difficulties that let us down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t deliver the professional product scant wants from us. It just means we need to plan better beforehand. If we are always having issues, then plan for them and come up with solutions.
What do you do if the stream goes down? Make sure players know they will be interviewed before or after games so they can prepare. Give the hosts content to talk about long in advance so they can talk naturally about it, not awkwardly try read/remember it. If there are going to be extended gaps between games, make sure you have content to fill them. Like an eSports reality TV for instance.
“Ultimately both these points are about hiring a team of people who are professionals and know how to do their job well for an event. Of course in order to do this ideally you just need a bigger budget, to make these kinds of positions competitive. So again, money is quite a driving factor in improving events, and not just for prize money.”
Money always seems to be an issue for local eSports, but it’s getting better. Obligatory reference to the R1million prize money Telkom is giving away in 2016. But add to that the ever present MSI, Razer and SteelSeries sponsorships. Vodacom who recently hosted Gamer’s Fest. The list is getting longer.
To help you out we’re working on a guide to getting money for your team or tournament. Until then, here’s a famous, not really, Good Luck Have Fun checklist:
- Test everything thoroughly.
- Now that you’re done testing, keep testing.
- Make sure the players are happy.
- Make sure the fans are happy.
- Don’t be cheap, hire a good production team.
- You guessed it. Test everything some more.
- Test it. Test it real good.