In case anyone’s been hiding under a rock for the last couple of months, the Evetech Champion’s League is this weekend. We sat down with Nathanael “BurningRed” Slabbert to get the scoop on what we can expect.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most ambitious eSports projects to hit South African shores in recent times. They aren’t just putting together a big-money event to help grow the scene, which it also is, they are undertaking an effort to take local broadcasting to the next level.
The focus, apart from showcasing the best local Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams in action, is putting on a fantastic show for the viewers with top-quality production, casting and, of course, next-level gaming.
But, a bit like those who thought No Man’s Sky was going to be the best game ever made, we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning.
“[The Evetech Champion’s League] was first created and put together by Evetech, as an idea. They then came to us, nAvTV, and we formally put it together.
They invited myself and Miles [Regenass] over to go through a couple of ideas. They told us what they wanted to do. There was a bit of a discussion with regards to what title we were going to go with first, but ultimately they wanted CS:GO and we agreed with them for it to be the pilot title.
Evetech has gone into a partnership with nAvTV on this, so it’s a 50/50 engagement. nAvTV brings in the experience to manage the tournaments and get the teams involved, while Evetech’s focus is on the partnership side of things. They’ve got very good relationships with a lot of the partners, because they sell their products. I’m talking about the likes of MSI, SteelSeries, Crucial and Ballistix, all the guys that are sponsoring the event.”
So how is this tournament going to be different from any other LAN? Well for starters, Evetech have constructed a state-of-the-art studio, purpose built from the ground up to provide a world-class broadcast experience from every perspective.
One of the great things behind this whole project is that it’s not just for the Champion’s League, they have some pretty big plans going forward and some big promises to live up to.
“The studio is designed to accommodate a more sleek, professional look from a broadcasting point of view. Something that could potentially be televised in the future. Very similar, but not as extravagant as the E-League.
If you look at a lot of the events that have taken place in the past, not just from our side, but in South Africa in general, you can immediately see that it was very amatuer. In the sense that the lighting wasn’t correct, the broadcasters don’t look correct, the right equipment isn’t being used. Guys are using small webcams, there’s not sufficient lighting to make the broadcasters look professional.
The main focus here was to build a studio that will provide the right setting for an international-level event.”
Local CS:GO has been getting a lot of love lately with Orena’s ESWC qualifiers, the ESEA platform expanding to include a South African qualifier at their LAN event later this year and the recently concluded World Electronic Sports Games in Dubai where Bravado won a couple of trips to China.
The communities of other games in this country may have started to feel like Earl Woods Jnr. If you don’t know who that is, good. That’s the point. He’s Tiger Woods’ brother by the way.
However, there is good news, because the Champion’s League won’t just be about CS:GO.
“It will host other big competitions for titles like Dota. Going forward there’s League of Legends, there’s Quake, there’s Call of Duty – all the varying titles. It’s not just a specific title. It becomes a location for esports, and that is the actual role of the studio.”
What’s really got our attention about this event is the inward focus on quality from a production perspective. The success of the initial Champion’s League will be judged, at least from nAvTV and Evetech’s perspective, almost exclusively on how good of a show they put on.
“For us to make it a success, we must ensure the level of production and the scheduling are on par, because one of the biggest problems in the South African industry with regards to games is that sticking to times has always been very difficult.
Even in certain cases on the international scene as well. Being able to put this tournament together, run according to schedule with every single match all the way through, and have a very good on par production with that is what is going to define it being successful.
We want to set the new benchmark for eSports in South Africa. That’s one of the main goals for us.”
For those of you, like us, who are bound by the special laws of local internet, you may be slightly underwhelmed by all the talk of high production value because all pixels look pretty similar in low quality on Twitch. Medium if your internet is having a good day.
Well, because quality of broadcast and, let’s be honest, showing off a bit, is kind of the point of this event, local problems streaming through Twitch have also been taken into account.
“We won’t be using Twich for this one. We’ll only be using YouTube Gaming through the ECL’s channel.
YouTube is a very fast growing platform for streaming locally. A lot of people, including myself, struggle to watch Twitch in South Africa. It’s just one of those things. You may be able to watch it on medium quality, but anything above that without a super fast line isn’t really an option.
YouTube offers a very good streaming and viewing experience for people in South Africa, because this is primarily a South African tournament, so those are the people we are going to cater for.”
While they are expecting a fair international viewership, the complete implosion of the skins betting industry makes it tough to get overseas eyeballs on the show. But instead of high numbers, nAvTV just hopes the right people are watching.
“What we do hope for, is for certain entities to watch what is happening inside South Africa, such as tournament providers, big sponsors and companies like Valve.
We want them to look at the event and see, ‘Hey, South Africa is becoming a really good developing country for eSports and we should invest more into that market.’”
This is the point where we would usually call you to action with a rousing, or at least humourous, speech to convince you to switch your computer monitors over this weekend. Just this once, we’re going to let BurningRed do it.
“We’re hoping everyone that reads the articles you guys post tunes in. We’re hoping for all South African eSports fans to join in and watch the event because we feel very, very strongly about proving a new standard and providing a new benchmark for eSports in South Africa.
I’m not saying we are going to have exactly TV show quality at ECL, but we are going to be very close to it. I can tell you that.”
Now that’s some confidence we can get behind. And quite a promise. We thoroughly hope they succeed.
The action kicks off at 15:00 on Friday with Energy eSports taking on Xperts@Total.chaos, followed by Aperture Gaming versus Damage Control at 18:00. Catch it all live on the ECL’s official Youtube channel. If you follow their channel you’ll also stand a chance to win some rad goodies from the guys at Evetech this weekend.