Steven R. December 25, 2019
WePlay! Esports is about to hold the first big Dota 2 tournament of the year 2020, and the esports organizer has been around in Dota 2 for a very long time now.
The organizer hosted some of the largest online leagues of the game’s formative years and helped teams like Natus Vincere and Alliance build their legacies. WePlay! still does so today, giving teams like OG and Ninjas in Pyjamas the chance to stay active between majors.
Despite that history, it was still something of a surprise for some fans to see WePlay!’s name appear attached to a Minor. WIN.gg caught up with WePlay! Esports General Producer Max Belonogov to discuss the event, the company’s history, and what fans can expect from the WePlay! Bukovel Minor.
WePlay! Esports has generally organized online leagues, but with the Bukovel Minor and Forge of Masters Season 1 and 2 Finals, we’ve seen you be more active in LAN events. Is this something to expect from WePlay! going forward?
Belonogov: Yes, we will be doing more LAN events moving forward. It’s a natural way of growth for a company. At first, you test your approach in a studio format, without the teams playing on-site. Then you take what you’ve learned and apply it on LAN.
We’ve had enough events recently to build up experience and confidence, especially with the LAN finals of Forge of Masters. The approach to our recent online and LAN tournaments is a reason why Valve is giving us the privilege to host this minor.
In the future, we intend to organize more LAN events with unique, creative concepts.
How is WePlay! going to put their own stamp on an event they host? We see different organizers do it in different ways, like RFRSH with the BLAST Pro Series’ unique presentation. What is WePlay!’s approach?
Of course, we observe what other tournament operators do and the BLAST events are on our radars as well. The thing that separates WePlay! Esports is our core creative approach where competition is just a part of the show. Our goal is not only to stream the tournament games, but also to create an experience.
Every aspect of the broadcast, such as the talent costumes, studio setup, music, SFM videos, and comedy skits are aligned within a specific storyline, meant to generate specific emotions. This is what we call esportainment and what we’ve been testing for more than a year now.
We’ve started to see Dota 2 tournament organizers hosting events at destination locations like the MDL Disneyland Paris Major and now WePlay! Esports with a ski resort, rather than at a more traditional arena or auditorium. What’s the reason behind that?
Esports is at a stage when you want to attract the audience with more than just the players and the matches. The MDL Disneyland Paris Major organizers gave the viewers an exciting twist by bringing the event to an unusual location. On the other hand, the organizers could find more ways to engage the viewers in Disney World.
When we were preparing to pitch our minor to Valve, we thought first about the event concept and what emotions we wanted to harness. And then we decided where the perfect place to host it would be.
Bukovel is going to be natively integrated into the show we are creating. The ski resort will be our real-life Christmas village with an atmosphere of magic and where people can enjoy winter in all its glory.
Are there any challenges that come from hosting an event in this sorts of location?
There are obvious logistical challenges, but we were fully prepared to face them since we chose the location.
The biggest challenge with WePlay! Bukovel Minor we are facing is a lack of time. You always want to have more content and keep improving what you already have. Some ideas must be shelved so that others are realized in the best possible way. You don’t have the time to do everything at once.
Which game is easier to put together a broadcast for, Dota 2 or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? Why?
From the standpoint of production, I’d say CSGO is a tougher game to show. This title has many in-game events such as CT wins, T wins, bomb plants, bomb defusals, explosions, knife kills, Molotov kills, etc., and for every one of them, we create specific sound and light effects and graphics. With Dota 2, this task is a little bit easier.
Some technical aspects also make Dota 2 more comfortable to work with. For example, you need to set up a custom server to host CSGO matches. In terms of observing, I find Dota 2 less challenging as well.
The allocation of team slots by region has resulted in a great list of teams. Which teams are you most excited about hosting?
Yes, we are delighted with the team lineup for the WePlay! Bukovel Minor. I usually don’t think about what teams I’m more excited to host, I’m just looking forward to the storylines that will be created throughout the event.
Since almost everyone has a decent chance to win, I’m glad we will have fantastic matches along with the show.