Video games are finally being looked at not as the toys they were marketed as early on, but as a viable form of entertainment. In that regard, they’re finally being taken seriously in other aspects as well, such as esports. Whereas esports are not new, sports channels and platforms have started the initial embrace of video games being a real sport and treating players as athletes.
It was a matter of time before esports wound up sensationalized and put in front of the average joe to watch. Turner Broadcasting, the fine folks out of Atlanta, GA that bring us Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and TruTV, finally dipped their pinky toe into the video game world.
Since early 2016, ELEAGUE, Turner Broadcasting’s official esports league, has been taking the reins for network esports. They started with Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, working their way to a short stint with Overwatch last year. This led to a Street Fighter V Invitational and the International DOTA 2 Championships, which was also hosted from their studio in Atlanta, GA, as well. Setting themselves up for more, CS:GO Premier is now in its third season, with a growing audience and tons of new tech advancements.
The CS:GO Premier 2017 kicked off September 8th with four teams competing that evening, live. Festivities started at 6:00 PM, EST, and had two teams face off, then the other two. The first match had fan favorite FaZe Clan go against the Renegades, slaughtering them at 16-9. The second match up had European team Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) against G2 Esports, with Na’Vi taking the win at 16-10. These matches were broadcast via Twitch, YouTube, and ELEAGUE.com.
At 10 PM, EST, they kicked it up a notch. Bringing in a studio audience, the rest of the show is shot live on the previous channels, and brought to more eyes using Turner’s own cable television TBS station. This is where the masses can enjoy the games as well, tuning in on syndication. This part had the winners of the previous two match-ups, FaZe Clan and Na’Vi, battle it out for an epic showdown for a chance at the playoff spot in the Quarterfinals. FaZe Clan absolutely devastated Na'Vi with a near complete shut out at 16-6.
Turner has taken to utilizing some special technology in their attempt to make esports more wide-stream. Innovation will make it stand out and the use of bio-metrics in the players is a good start. Eye-tracking tech developed by Tobii was introduced for this third season, which shows exactly where players eyes move as they play to help home viewers understand the intensity and would-be pros have proper research on what to look for as a player. Partnering with Dell Gaming/ Alienware, the systems that players are competing on are top-notch and designed for aggressive play.
Their advanced analytics with Dojo Madness’ Shadow.GG platform, offers viewers more data to take in, including heatmaps, smokemaps, and pathmaps. Tactical and statistical replays are shown during the event using this same tech. These bits of tech help those watching really understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player. Virtual reality finally plays a part in esports with ELEAGUE’s partnership with SLIVER.tv. Matches are shot in 360 degree cinematic VR and allows viewers to really see what the player see. This tech is supported by nearly every VR option out there, including Google Cardboard.
Each Friday will put four teams against each other the same way for four weeks, with additional matches the following Saturday. This will lead up to the playoffs, starting October 10th. This leads to the Grand Finals on Friday, October 13th, 2017 at 10PM, EST. The best two of all of the teams will face off in a finish to an awesome season.
Afterwards, ELEAGUE will move on to their next game: Injustice 2. Pulling the top 16 players from the four biggest Injustice 2 tournaments, ELEAGUE’s Injustice 2 World Championships will take place on October 21st. Facing off for $250,000, the baddest players will prove their worth in a super-clash of DC characters.
With the rise of esports among gamers comes a rise to esports in the mainstream. ELEAGUE is taking it to the next level to give viewers a prime experience to the best of their abilities. What’s next for esports? A multiplayer indie games league? Olympic center stage? If treated like real sports, esports has several avenues that can be gone to.