It is fair to say that the CS:GO scene is experiencing somewhat of a boom right now. ELeague is bringing Valve’s shooter to TV, the majors have $1 million on the line and the World Esports Association is trying to regulate it all. But another key player in this boom has been FACEIT, the company that provides the technical backbone for many of the top competitions, and of course ECS, the massive competition in collaboration with Twitch.
Over the past months, the best teams in North America and Europe have battled it out to secure a place at the ECS LAN finals at the Wembley SSE Arena in London. Astralis, Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas and G2 qualified from Europe and Cloud9, Liquid, Team SoloMid and Luminosity made it from America. The finals promise to be one of the best CS:GO events the UK has ever seen, and in order to find out why they chose Wembley arena, as well as get a more detailed look at the competition itself Slingshot’s Mike Stubbsy spoke to Alessandro Avallone, co-founder & CGO at FACEIT.
Has everything gone to plan with the tournament so far, has there been any major problems you have run into or has everything gone smoothly?
There was the unfortunate forfeit from NaVi, and we are sorry that a few teams missed the qualifiers, but we are looking forward to having them join the league in Season 2. Otherwise, the league has been running smoothly and exceeded our expectations from every standpoint, including viewership. We have organized a number of live events with partners, such as Dreamhack and ELeague, for the CS:GO Road to Vegas Championship at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year. We have an amazing team at FACEIT who know exactly what needs to be done to create a tournament of this scale. We can’t wait to bring FACEIT and the ECS to a big stage like the SSE Arena in Wembley.
Why create the ECS league in the first place when both the ESL Pro League and ELeague have similar models?
We started producing content for CS:GO just after the game was released, before other organizers, and we have the largest CS:GO competitive platform globally. We felt that it would have been considered odd if we had not announced a large scale league, considering our relationship with the community pro scene.
In 2015, we organized the most watched CS:GO league in the world and received huge positive feedback from teams and players. For this reason, we decided to substantially increase our investment to create something unique and groundbreaking, and so, the ECS was born.
Do you think there is room for all these similar competitions? Or will someone lose out?
We work very closely with ELeague and are excited to see CS:GO on TV. That’s just one thing we’re working on though, and it’s a different product compared to ECS. Having several competitions is good as it pushes everyone to improve and ensure better events for the community, players and teams participating. We respect the ecosystem and we understand that every event has its own atmosphere. We want teams and players to compete and experience that. Teams love to compete, and they love to get rewarded for all their hard work, so more chances to play is always a good thing, the trick is managing timing and making sure there are no major clashes. A player can only ever be in one place at a time, after all. There is no need for exclusivity, just better organization and the best products will emerge naturally.
What makes the ECS unique compared to these other top competitions?
We have always worked closely with teams and players to retrieve their feedback, provide them with the most comfortable playing environment and get them involved in the running of the competition. Examples of this are open dialogues regarding rules, map pools, as well as creating a tournament schedule to respect their other obligations towards other organizers.
With ECS, we have tried to take a next step, with all teams getting official participation in the decision making process and a share of the financial benefits.
Why did you decide to give teams co-ownership, and has that worked out as you initially hoped?
The ECS was designed with the goal of helping eSports grow beyond its current state, while respecting the core values of the current ecosystem and the eSports community. The ECS league was conceived, designed and established by adapting concepts common in traditional sports to eSports, including team co-ownership, protection of players and promotion of all parties involved to increase the value of a common product and brand. We want to have all parties involved focused on creating long term value and ensuring that the benefits are shared by everyone, whether they be players, teams or the organizer.
What, exactly, do the teams get out of this arrangement of co-ownership?
All teams will be offered equity, and they will be able to contribute to and improve the framework of the league by having representation on the governing committee, along with the players. A percentage of the revenues will also be distributed to the teams and players. The total earnings for all participants will start at $3.5 million USD a year, which will grow over time.
Which side of the League is proving more popular, EU or NA?
In terms of the wider history of competitive CS:GO, it’s generally a pretty strong game in both EU and NA. For us, the European scene is still more popular, but our NA leagues are growing really fast.
Why have you chosen London as the city for the final, and why Wembley Arena?
There are a number of great cities that we considered, but for the moment London suits our needs, and the needs of our community best right now. Wembley is an iconic location, and the SSE Arena has seen some great events held there, from musicians, to other esports events.
The SSE Arena, Wembley, works well from a spectator point of view as we want to ensure that everyone making the effort of actually purchasing a ticket has the best experience possible. Also, the venue offers a lot of technical advantages. Not only do we have to take our spectators into consideration but we also have to make sure everything runs seamlessly for those watching at home.
Are you expecting to sell out the entire arena, and how affordable will tickets be?
It is very important for us to provide a high quality experience for everyone, the current layout of the arena provides the best viewing experience for all of our visitors. If we sell out in the next weeks however the design of the arena will allow us to increase the number of seats without much trouble.
Single tickets will start at £12.99 ($14.75 US), while stack tickets will start at £58 ($65.85). We also have a very limited number of VIP tickets on sale, which will cost £275 ($312).
What awesome things can we expect at the finals?
The final teams are locked in and it looks like the line up will be exceptional – Astralis, Fnatic, NiP and G2 from the EU and Cloud9, Liquid, TSM and Luminosity from NA. On top of that we have some great little surprises planned for the crowd and we are working closely with terrestrial television companies across Europe to broadcast the final matches live to as many fans as possible.
Cover photo: Screenshot