Red Bull eSports
ELEAGUE shares the high tech tips and tricks that will enhance their future broadcasts.
In just over a year, Turner’s ELEAGUE has become a household name in tournament esports production. Having produced and shown numerous Counter-Strike: Global Offensive events, including a Major, and one of the most successful Street Fighter V tournaments in history, ELEAGUE has already achieved acclaimed top-tier status as a producer of streamed and cable television content.
And from the looks of it, they aren’t ready to rest on their laurels.
A Change From Traditional Esports Broadcasting
When Turner’s new season of CS:GO Premier 2017 hit PC monitors and televisions last Friday night, viewers witnessed some of the most cutting edge viewing enhancement technology that had never been seen before as a trio.
Turner and IMG partnered with three different companies whose technology expanded viewer experiences by mixing viewable on screen advanced data, such as player heat and pathmaps, with the ability to watch matches in a fully immersive 360-degree VR environment using newly updated 3D virtual reality technology.
The visionary that brought this technology together is Robert Occhialini, Vice President of Esports Products and Technology at Turner Sports. He has spent months on the project.
“With traditional sports, the challenge with incorporating advanced analytics is data capture – so I was super intrigued to apply them to a sport that is built on data,” Occhialini said. “We like offering the ‘build-a-bear’ type of esports experience with respect to having ultimate viewer choice, but we also realize that many people like to lean back and enjoy the broadcast. What we have [with our 2D production being available inside the 3D rendering] is the sweet spot, the combination of those two.”
Occhialini is referring to one of the most exciting technologies audiences across various platforms utilized this past week. Sliver.tv, the 3D, virtual reality platform allowed audiences to view ELEAGUE’s live coverage of matches in 360-degree cinematic virtual reality. Fans were able to go inside the game, having an almost unlimited view. Being immersed into the actual game maps, viewers were able to follow their favorite players and embed themselves in the middle of battles being fought in real time. All the action was available in a first-person virtual reality view.
“We’re very proud of ELEAGUE’s 2D production. One of the great things about the SLIVER.tv experience is that you get all of the immersive VR experience but you still have the ability to enjoy our production,” Occhialini would continue. “It made SLIVER.tv a fantastic fit for ELEAGUE. Their platform ubiquity – not just being available via one VR headset – is really remarkable.”
In conjunction with the 3D experience, one of the most interesting additions to Turner’s esports broadcast production was that of state-of-the-art eye tracking technology which made its debut. The technology being leveraged showed the eye-movements of up to two players at a time as audiences watched some of the world’s best CS:GO pros being tracked by micro projectors and sensors.
Tobii (company) who developed the eye-tracking technology for Dell’s Alienware PCs allowed biometric data to be analyzed and used creating an immediate gaze overlay highlighting precisely where a player is looking throughout their matches. This granted players, casters, and fans the ability to see where the players’ eyes go on the screen during high-stress situations and how quickly they were able to recognize different scenarios.
The third prong of the advanced viewing trident was that ELEAGUE used Dojo Madness’ Shadow.gg platform. Shadow.gg was a huge hit, “…offering viewers advanced data visuals including heatmaps, smokemaps and pathmaps, along with tactical and statistical replay views. Shadow.GG provided ELEAGUE’s analysts and viewers with a data-based method to identify teams’ strategic tendencies, strengths and weaknesses.”
Occhialini, who comes from a traditional sports background with NBA, searched for companies that could deliver the type of data Dojo Madness provides and to help answer a question he believes that most esports fans are gravitating towards.
“A lot of the time in esports today, analysts or fans ask only ‘who won?’ There isn’t a lot of ‘why did they win?’”, Occhialini noted. “We see this as the beginning of getting into the ‘why’ teams won.”
These three pieces of technology were not only crucial in helping fans answer those questions, but also the organizations behind the teams as analyzing statistical data becomes more prevalent.
ELEAGUE has continued to move forward in their esports broadcasting schedule after seeing successful audience numbers during Season 2 of CS:GO where they averaged just under 300,000 viewers per episode–solely on TBS. The ELEAGUE Major set the all-time record on Twitch.tv when they were purported to have over 1 million viewers.