The Pros and Cons of ECS Season 2 Finals

Another weekend of Counter-Strike has passed and it seems we have another winner as Astralis managed to keep their composure this time around in a rematch finals against OpTic Gaming. Last week at ELEAGUE they fell short to them, but this time they were able to keep their eyes on the prize and defeated them in a strong fashion.

ECS Season 2 proved to be a successful event, there is no doubt about that. Nonetheless, every event has its pros and cons and that is what we will be exploring today. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the event myself, but I will attempt to explore the pros and cons based on what I was able to examine from home and a few other perspectives. In no particular order, here are the pros and cons of ECS Season 2 Finals.

Pro: Interesting Stream Content Before & After Games

ECS did a great job preparing engaging content before and after games for ‘filler’ entertainment. From the James vs Dan challenges to the n0thing Rap Video, these fillers were quite entertaining and managed to buy time as they got set up between games. They even prepared a funny little overlay called the “ECS Rank Cam” where they would zoom up close on fans and randomly assign them a rank, for the memes. They also did a pretty good job with their team introduction video reels right before matches. Separate clips were even put together as teams advanced further into the tournament. An example of the rank detector is here:

I’d like to give a shout out to David Guvå who was the man behind the video and editing of the team intro reels and the entertaining clips featuring players. The James and Dan video series was created by an outsourced company called Outplay Studio Ltd. The aforementioned content brought solid entertainment value to the fans watching live and on Twitch. ECS, as such, has set a standard for between match entertainment.

Con: Audio Issues Throughout Event

Working for an esports event organization myself, I can understand that technical issues are always a nuisance when they arise and they can still arise often regardless of how many rehearsals are done. Nonetheless, the audio issues that were a factor for the stream throughout the entire event including the finals were quite frustrating for viewers. Not only were there issues, but there also seemed to be a lack of focus by whoever was in charge of audio levels. Things were muted when they shouldn’t have been and mics were left hot after analysts were no longer on air. Usually, these kinks are worked out after the first day of an event. Unfortunately, in this case, they weren’t fixed after the first day and the stream quality suffered from it dearly. Below are a couple examples of some of the audio issues:

The analysts go off air after a quick game 1 win by Astralis and their mics are left hot. You can hear some comments from them that were not meant to be on-air.

In the clip above, smix is interviewing Dupreeh after his teams’ big win and for almost half his first answer we can’t make out what he is saying. This is at the very end of the event where problems like this should not be happening.

In this clip, Sean Gares is trying to share some insight with the audience but there is no sound. Few people will ever know what was said here.

Pro & Con: There were delays, but they sacrificed to catch up.

Delays are probably the most expected thing from any CS:GO event at this point. It seems that set ups that are not stationary, such as ELEAGUE with their studio environment, are always susceptible to having technical delays. Any event that is not done at a studio that has a consistent setup will have to have their crew arrive days in advance of the event start date to prepare the stage and equipment for rehearsals. Unfortunately, this would cost more for organizations as they will have to dish out extra cash to pay for crew accommodations and wages for quite a few days before the event even begins. They will also have to pay for the booking of the venue for a longer period of time. There are tons of extra costs that come into play at this point and it can often be a tough situation for an organization to be in. Sometimes, venues may not even be available in advance and crews will have to work around the clock just to get set up in time.

The average fan can assume that esports events are easy to run and that issues like this are easy to prevent, but in reality this is not the case. Organizations that have been running big events for years now are still running into new problems. Esports is still a baby compared to traditional sports and these event organizations are still going through learning processes.

Now, although there were delays, ECS managed to sacrifice certain aspects of the show attempting to catch up to their original schedule. They skipped over analyst segments and postponed video content early in the event to get the games rolling as soon as teams were ready to go. This showed that they were really trying to stick to their schedule and were sincerely trying to make up for their time loss.

Con: OpTic vs Astralis Group Stage Pistol Round

For those that have no idea what happened in the BO1 between OpTic Gaming and Astralis on the first day of ECS Anaheim, let me break it down for you and show you the facts.

Above is OpTic Hitch talking about what happened during the game in his recent vlog.

Here is what I got from the HLTV Interview with Device:

Interviewer: “The first half of the match seemed pretty tight, what was happening, it seemed like no one could get two rounds in a row?”

Device: “It was so much chaos, I was a bit sad and frustrated with how the whole thing with the pause went. Because OpTic were really unlucky, after winning the first pistol round, apparently we were not live, I’m not sure if that was shown at all, but they won a pistol round at first. The match was restarted and we wanted to give the round to them but it wasn’t possible unfortunately. Then we had the server crash at 3-3 in a round where they had a first kill.

Obviously both things killed their momentum and it’s really frustrating, I can’t imagine how it felt for them. I’d say that’s probably the reason why there was so much chaos and it was so close. Because everyone was out of the game – into the game, all the time.”

Regardless of the situation, the admins and production should be communicating to stay on the same page and the focus on competitive integrity should be kept. ECS could have simply gotten the casters to apologize on stream and explain that the pistol round was completed already and unfortunately the stream was mistakenly not started yet or didn’t show it.

Pro: Fan Ideas/Merchandise Pushes

It’s important to reiterate that I was not at the event in Anaheim, but from what I could see it appeared that ECS did a great job with their live fans. I would assume that they had a booth somewhere in the venue where fans could go and create their own signs, as it seemed pretty much everybody had a self-made sign in the crowd. It was also apparent that many fans were wearing ECS merchandise, which I would also assume they were selling during the event. From my perspective, I feel that ECS did a good job with these two aspects and on stream they were able to show fans reactions and showcase the signs and merchandise intelligently. This only helps their brand and also was good for their sponsor Corsair Gaming, as they had their logo on the signs. Fans at the venue seemed to be having a positive and exciting experience, which is what ECS provided.

Con: Twitch chat was poorly moderated

If there is one thing that turns people off in Twitch chat it is spamming of offensive/racist remarks. Moderation on the FaceIt twitch channel during ECS was non-existent. Troublemakers continuously spammed racist comments and offensive phrases throughout the entire weekend.

One of our writers, Joe Grech aka UnfunMid, is a moderator on the FaceIt Twitch channel and he had this to say when I asked him about the situation:

“That doesn’t surprise me. I was pretty busy over the weekend and the stream wasn’t really EU friendly…Most FACEIT mods are EU.”

He explained to me that most of the mods that know what they are doing on big esports event chats are volunteers who simply enjoy doing it while watching the streams. With knowledge that most of their mods are from Europe, ECS should have prepared a team of moderators to make up for the fact that their volunteer mods would likely not be around for the whole event.

In an article about the importance of Twitch chat during esports events, Joe explains that tournament hosts need to crack down on having proper moderation teams in place to keep Twitch chat under control. Unfortunately, Twitch moderators are unpaid, and simply do it because they enjoy it. Experienced moderators like Joe, however, should be getting compensation for their work because they have a proven track record of being able to handle large chats and promote a positive chat experience. This is something that ECS and other organizations should look into. They should be hiring a moderation team and paying them accordingly for their work during big events.

Pro: New faces in Talent

One thing that I did appreciate very much was ECS incorporating some new faces, at least for me, in terms of talent, notably Sean Gares, Smix, and Lurppis.

Sean was only brought on the analyst desk for the second semi-finals between Astralis and SK Gaming, but it was quite nice being able to hear analysis from one of the most knowledgeable players in North America.

I was surprised when I hadn’t heard of smix, as she was one of the most impressive interviewers I’ve seen in esports. Her voice is crystal clear, she knows how to express herself with the right amount of enthusiasm, and she appears to know what she is asking about with excellent rhetoric skills. Good on ECS to hire such a talented interviewer.

Lurppis is known by most in the CS:GO community, notably on Twitter, but I have not seen him show face at many events. In my opinion, he did an excellent job on the analyst desk and brought a fresh perspective to the viewer.

ECS Season 2 Finals was a solid event nonetheless

As a community, we should be criticizing these organizations constructively so that they may improve for the better of esports in the future. Despite the above cons, I do believe that ECS was able to put on a solid event that most enjoyed and I look forward to seeing the improvement of their events in the years to come.