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The Logistics of an eSports Tournament 48

An anonymous reader writes: Wargaming's hugely popular World of Tanks game sees its biggest tournament of the year, The Grand Finals, taking place this weekend. In an interview published today, the developer's eSports director, Mohamed Fadl, reveals just what goes into preparing a tournament for both thousands of spectators at the venue, and millions more streaming online.

"The infrastructure behind such an event is the most challenging task," he reveals. "Ten highly qualified IT managers, 28 on-air casters and around 50 additional TV staff will be doing their best...A TV level production setup, 170 computers, a total of 1.3GB/s bandwidth and 16 cameras plus 14 player cameras." And all for just 12 teams playing one strategy game.
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The Logistics of an eSports Tournament

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  • Sound like...real tanks may be easier to manage.

  • "Strategy game" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @09:53AM (#49519687)

    It's a real-time third-and-first-person shooter with a modest attempt at realistic physics simulation for projectile ballistics, impact damage modeling, friction coefficients for different environments and even the individual tanks' mechanical differences (transmission efficiency, ground pressure, etc.).

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:10AM (#49519815) Homepage
    Sponsoring an esports event is one thing, but actually facilitating it is another thing entirely. You also need enough doritos and mountain dew to give the furnature diabetes.
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @10:46AM (#49520127) Homepage

    So, the "biggest eSports" tournament isn't even as big or logistically complicated as a lightly attended baseball game here in my mid-sized market town?

    Color me unimpressed.

    Seriously, as far as "big" events goes, the "World Of Tanks Grand Finals" doesn't even make the needle twitch off the zero peg. And not even the "on a computer" aspect is very interesting here in 2015.

    • But...but...but... Look at all those numbers! eSports is the FUTURE! What people really want to watch is a bunch of face cams to see the players really squint at the screen!
      • But...but...but... Look at all those numbers! eSports is the FUTURE! What people really want to watch is a bunch of face cams to see the players really squint at the screen!

        Because baseball had thousands of spectators right when people started playing.

      • by timftbf ( 48204 )

        For me, it's neither more nor less boring than "real" sport, in that I have absolutely zero interest in watching either.

    • Probably the biggest eSports tournament was the 2014 LoL World Championship. It hosted 45,000 people in the stadium, and streamed to over 27 million people.

      eSports have been growing steadily, even if WoT tournaments are just now catching up.

      • Probably the biggest eSports tournament was the 2014 LoL World Championship. It hosted 45,000 people in the stadium, and streamed to over 27 million people.

        That still puts it in the lowest tiers of sporting events.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ok, just like the robot wars (I like those, personally) that they tried to televise and failed miserably due to lack of viewership, the gamers are going to suffer the same fate. The mass appeal of watching someone play video games is just not there. It only appeals to other hardcore gamers and those that want to be hardcore gamers. That crowd is just not big enough to sustain something like this in the mainstream. Sure, you can have your local, regional and national level tournaments and they can be success

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the League of Legends World Championship (season 3)
      "Over 32 million fans watched SK Telecom T1 earn the Summoner's Cup in front of a sold-out Staples Center. At peak, more than 8.5 million fans were watching at the same time."

      and season 4:
      "During the final showdown between Samsung White and Royal Club, the peak concurrent viewers (the highest number of fans watching at once) was 11.2 million - a climb from 8.7 million in 2013. Overall total unique viewer count for the finals came in at 27 million, from

      • What makes those numbers (sadly) somewhat less valuable is the time the tournaments ran during.

        S3 world championship was hosted in California, USA, meaning it ran on Pacific Standard Time. It was generally accessible to NA viewers (morning to early afternoon), moderately accessible to EU viewers (late afternoon to night), and not accessible at all to most of asia (middle of the night).

        S4 was instead hosted in Asia. It was generally accessible to asians (early afternoon to evening), not really accessible to

    • LoL and Starcraft have been doing esports for many many years now. LoL in particular has been growing quite a bit even as SC2 tapers off in enthusiasm.

      Heck, check the page for LoL eSports' Spring 2015 playoffs. Playoff games are getting 250,000 viewers.

      • 250,000 viewers for non-finals matches, close to 500,000 for the NA finals (sadly, the EU finals are too early in the day for many NA viewers to watch live) and this is the "split" (half-season, basically) that "doesn't matter".

        The Mid-Season Invitational tournament coming up soon should draw a few million viewers though.

    • the dream of "millions more streaming online" is just a dream

      It's reality, not a dream, and has been for a while. It's hard to find numbers to put this into perspective but I found some info from IEM San Jose (december 2014) [esportsmax.com] and DOTA2 [engadget.com]. IEM had 4 milion live viewers during a two day event. DOTA2 reached 2 million simultaneous viewers with a total of 20 million viewers. While NCAA is bigger than both events combined the numbers are not that far off either. NCAA is an old organisation with a 50 year television history that has a lot of resources to promote it's events

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm 38 years old. I've been gaming since as long as I can remember. From arcade games, home computers, consoles, and handhelds. I'm still a gamer today. But I can't imagine anything as boring as watching other people play a videogame. I'd rather watch golf and I don't even play.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      There can be some interest in watching if you are interested in certain strategies and those strategies are displayed in that way. That, however, is highly dependent on the game and how it is played.

      If it is just a bunch of players who are better at micromanagement than the other players are while using some bland tactics, then yeah, there's nothing to see. That's why watching RTS bores the crap out of me. It's a bunch of people who are better at micro than others.

      FPS team games can be more interesting,

      • Strong this.

        I watch League of Legends professional play fairly regularly.

        I'm personally Platinum-ranked in League of Legends myself. This means I'm (barely) in the top 10% of LoL players.

        The pros know SO MUCH more than I do, the way they develop and execute strategies, the little tricks they use to get the most out of their champions, it's all on a whole other level from what I know/do. So I watch them to learn from them. For those who play League, I mean things like using flash during Gragas bodyslam or Vi

        • Strong this.

          I watch League of Legends professional play fairly regularly.

          I'm personally Platinum-ranked in League of Legends myself. This means I'm (barely) in the top 10% of LoL players.

          The pros know SO MUCH more than I do, the way they develop and execute strategies, the little tricks they use to get the most out of their champions, it's all on a whole other level from what I know/do. So I watch them to learn from them. For those who play League, I mean things like using flash during Gragas bodyslam or Vi vaultbreaker to instant-hit the spell before your enemy can dodge, stuff like that. Before I watched LCS I didn't know you could flash mid-spell without interrupting the spell. I became a better player because I adapted what I watched into my own repertoire.

          I don't honestly care very much who wins, although some teams are known for more innovation than others, so I tend to root for them >_>

          We have a 5v5 LoL tournament coming up in my town next month and am looking forward to checking it out. Not gonna play, tho. Haven't even tried to play LoL. Now if it had RPGs and mini-guns, I might give it a shot. ;)

    • I'm 38 years old. I've been gaming since as long as I can remember. From arcade games, home computers, consoles, and handhelds. I'm still a gamer today. But I can't imagine anything as boring as watching other people play a videogame. I'd rather watch golf and I don't even play.

      About 10 years ahead of you in age, but still enjoy gaming. Just built a real nice rig to play BF4 and other FPS games and am currently playing more games than ever since. I still enjoy watching other folks play, especially the FPS genre. Follow a few gamers on Twitch and watch some of the matches via Twitch's main page occasionally. Granted there are some games like LoL and the *craft ilk that I don't understand, but still fun to watch those players do things that I don't have to eyesight nor the refle

    • I didn't think it was that big either, but this is what the article says:

      A total of 4.3 million viewers tuned it to last year’s Grand Finals with a peak of 120,000 concurrent viewers. We’re expecting to top those numbers as we can see already a tremendous interest and engagement with our WoT community around this year’s Grand Finals.

  • by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2015 @11:40AM (#49520761) Homepage

    I attend Fragapalooza [facebook.com] on a yearly basis and they manage ~200 folks, I've volunteered a few times myself for setup / teardown and over the years some things have become apparent:

    1. Power
    Having stable power distribution is your top priority, no matter how much you've solved other problems when power goes down it's going to kill everything. Worse yet if you have rolling power issues that's going to put a real kink in your tournament scheduling. The main thing to consider when it comes to power distribution is what kind of hardware is going to show up, if you are using tournament machines where every build is identical then it shouldn't be a problem, if people are bringing their own machines you're going to have to sort out wildly fluctuating power configurations.

    2. LAN
    Your LAN setup needs to be flawless, monitored and set up to find and eliminate problems. That one person who shows up with DHCP turned on is going to be a cancer, the faster you can find problems like that and solve them the better. You'll also need people to keep an eye out for hacking, tournament play, it happens

    3. WAN
    Problem 1: You're hosting a LAN style event with a required WAN connection, you can do everything in your power to ensure that you've got the bandwidth to handle X number of simultaneous players as well as whatever the players who aren't in the tournament are playing, even if you handle this perfectly online-only games are a bitch to run tournaments for because if the servers you are connecting to go down your event is over or will drag on way too long. Even checking for potential maintenance windows to ensure there's not going to be downtime during your tournament hours is something important that's easily overlooked.

    Other stuff you're going to need to consider is gate security and floor security, not just for things like theft but also for ... conflagrations between players. When people get mad you need to be able to deal with them quickly otherwise things start to escalate, it's bad for your event, it's bad for your attendees.

    Anyway, all this stuff probably seems obvious but it's hard to achieve AND maintain

    • Mod parent insightful.

      Another issue to watch for is air conditioning, especially if the LAN is in a smaller room. You basically have a small data center running and all those machines generate a lot of heat. A bunch here locally ran a small LAN party (40-50 players) in one of our large conference rooms at my place of work in the dead of winter. They had to throw open the external doors and deploy fans until facilities management could turn on the A/C for that room (and it was a cold-ass day that day).

      • Temperature control is absolutely a huge thing, though sometimes you get locked into a venue

        For about 5 years we were using the Mayfield Trade Center and the AC kept overloading and dying, that was utter hell, not just for the people but for the hardware too. Trouble is Edmonton can get up to the 30-40ÂC range in the summer (85-100 F) so you have the power load from the event AND the power load from the AC, it turned out the Mayfield had those systems connected together and it was a big ol' mess.

  • The logistics of a league organized by a video game's publisher are one thing. The logistics of an independent league would be something else entirely. Let's compare with physical sports:

    • What happens once the sequel is out and the game's publisher no longer wants to sponsor a league for the older game? After gridiron football largely displaced the older association football (soccer) code in one country, MLS was established to play soccer alongside NFL's gridiron football.
    • What happens when a substantial numb
  • QuakeCon's Bring Your Own Computer area can reach 2500+. 170 is nothing.

Polymer physicists are into chains.

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