Competitive eSport has undergone an impressive (international) development in recent years. This sport has become professional much faster than other sports.
Growing audience numbers worldwide, increasing marketing expenses and advertising revenues, as well as increasing sales of broadcasting rights, speak for the development of this new popular sport.
The market research agency Newzoo predicted that the number of spectators of Esport worldwide would grow from 335 million to 454 million by 2019.
Competitive gaming is expected to become the second most popular sport in the U.S. in 2021, after the National Football League (NFL). In Germany, too, the consulting firm PwC expects an annual growth of 23.6 percent in ticket sales of live e-sports events between 2019 and 2023 (source: “Digital Trend Outlook 2019: ESport”).
Until a few years ago, only a die-hard fan community watched eSport via a stream on their home computer. Nowadays, however, international eSport events attract fans and visitors at fairs, festivals and in large stadiums.
Unlike watching matches from home, the live experience in a stadium provides a different kind of interaction. The professionally organized tournaments offer the mostly young, technically enthusiastic audiences more than just sports: they experience a spectacular show and meet like-minded people.
eSports combine two types of events: live streaming with professional commentary and the live experience at venues.
Just like any other major event, what seems so easy to the spectators, requires a lot of preparation. One of the most important ingredients of a successful eSport event is of course the technical setup. After all, what happens on the screens of the professionals must be visible on the large projection screens at the location and also streamed worldwide.
Highspeed internet is a necessity at all locations. In addition, the technicians and live operators also have a significant role: they must be able to capture the game in such a way that the audience can feel the excitement at all times. The spectators must feel part of the game.
The company responsible for the operational execution of the live production and broadcasting also plays a very important role. The company must support the eSportevent conceptually in the best possible way to improve the live experience and the global marketing of the game.
Back in February, satis&fy was in London taking care of the technical set up for a three-day international eSports event at the “Copper Box”. Björn Kowalzig, a project manager at satis&fy explains what happened backstage and what is important for the organizers: “The challenge was to make the tournament look good for both the live online audience and the spectators in the stands”. Therefore, our focus was mainly on the lighting of the stage, the audience sections, the studios and the commentator desks. We used SolaFrames 3000 from High-End-Systems which were specially sourced by our lighting designer. This is currently the brightest LED spotlight on the market.
To make the images of the game clearly visible to everyone, satis&fy used various LED walls with a very low pixel pitch of 3.2 millimetres. This allowed the local audience to experience the thrill of the virtual game. “It is important that the public can easily follow what is happening during the game,” explains the project manager. On the LED walls, a switch was made between content supplied by the customer and live images.
Good sound is important, because good speech intelligibility is essential. “During the game, in addition to the usual game sounds, the intercom conversations of the teams are also heard. This gives the spectators the impression that they are in the middle of the action,” says Kowalzig. This was achieved with the L-Acoustics KARA line array set. It is also important that the sound from the auditorium and from the stream feed in the production station are coordinated with great care.
For the event in London, we prepared various tables in our own workshop for both the game teams and the analysts. Each table is adapted to the personal wishes of the teams, analysts and commentators. The tables are stable, robust, scratch-resistant, waterproof and equipped with extra cable channels. The front and side finishing of the tables was made with LED panels on which video content was visible in different colours.
In addition to technology and equipment, the professional organization of backstage logistics also plays an important role. Especially for tournaments and during the competition, a partner who takes care of the logistics (transport and storage) surrounding eSports matches is needed.
The satis&fy inventory team have housed a total volume of a 40′ sea container in the company’s storage. They also made sure that maintenance rooms were available for updating the game servers.
The next event would take place in Paris. However, all live events were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After his stay in London, Björn Kowalzig now understands the hype around bringing together online gaming and live production in a much better way: “The atmosphere in the hall was exciting and the fans were enthusiastically cheering their teams on. It was a special experience to create an event around it, because normally I am involved in the production of B-to-B or public events. When planning and implementing an eSports event, the individual components are combined in a different way.