As has become the norm in Counter-Strike Global Offensive, the ECS Season 2 Finals that were held in Anaheim left us with more to talk about than in-game performances. The fan favourite casting duo James “JZFB” Bardolph and Dan “ddk” Kapadia not only provided the fans and viewers of the event with some quality inter-match entertainment, but rather ECS set the bar much higher for other events going into the future.
My first big Counter-Strike event was MLG Columbus 2016. It was nothing short of immaculate and I will never forget the memories that event created for me. One thing that has stood out in those memories are the amazing player profiles that were put together by MLG. Much like the videos that were played at ECS, they were released on YouTube months before the actual event; however, the atmosphere in the arena made them fresh and new again. What I haven’t seen much of since then is content being produced by the tournament organizers themselves to be played between matches – until the ECS Season 2 finals gave me a reminder.
This industry survives on a few different pillars outside of the game – one of them being content. Ask the retired members of the various OpTic Gaming teams who are now living quite comfortably thanks to the content they have continued to create for eSports fans. The content that James and Dan were a part of in partnership with ECS left us a few things to consider, and further I believe that this sort of content in-between matches is a step in the right direction for the industry.
Part of what makes eSports so exciting for newcomers is that almost anyone can get into it – whether that be playing, watching, learning, etc. While it’s true that sometimes the communities of different games can be less than inviting, content like this eases new viewers in a little bit with comedic relief. Because eSports and internet memes go hand in hand, the content that ECS produced meshed very well into the event for both fans present in Anaheim and fans watching across the world at home.
As well, it is important to consider that ECS could have just as easily made the call to play exclusively advertisements during the time where they slotted in entertaining content. Tournament organizers can put together flashy intros and awesome graphical work all they want, but ECS has went beyond the matches and attempted to retain some of the engagement that they had with their viewership beyond the match. Playing more advertisements would be more lucrative and require fewer resources, but ECS truly put the fans first by playing out the YouTube videos that they created on ECS’ channel.
ECS has left their fellow tournament organizers somewhat of a challenge moving forward. Now that the fans have been shown some consideration, other events will have to match or exceed the level of inter-match entertainment that ECS provided. It need not be exclusively video content either, as there are plenty of other ways to keep fans engaged and entertained when the fragging stops and next-match setup begins. It is now up to other tournament organizers to take the torch from ECS and continue to raise the bar as eSports continues to grow.