Since the venue and its size for our finals last weekend has been a big topic for a while, I decided to share some information regarding our process to choose and venue and which factors go into it. This is supposed to give everyone a little more perspective on the inner workings of a tournament of that size.
In general, when we run a tournament, we have a more or less fixed budget allocated to it. There are certain predictions regarding the numbers we can achieve and there are partners who support the tournament and have an expectation of what they want to achieve. Based on that budget and the partners’ expectations we then create a plan for the season.
Locations & eSports
Now there is a main difference compared to concerts for example. There are lots of locations which can easily host a concert, but very few locations catered specifically to esports. That means if you want to run an esports event somewhere, you will have to take care of a lot of things make it work at that location. Not all locations have proper Internet connections for example. With a bigger hall, you will need a much bigger screen and longer cables. With our ESL tournaments, we did that for a long time in Germany with the Intel Friday Night Games, where we had about 10 every year. Eventually, they kept costing too much and we had to retire this type of event.
Dedicated eSports Studios
For that reason, we decided to invest a large sum to build dedicated eSports studios (in Germany and Poland for example). They are catered to our specific needs, provide space for a small audience and are easily available to us. They also have stable network setups and good Internet connections. These studios allow us to host good-looking events with an adequate atmosphere and audience while keeping the costs within budget. Because we did not have space for on location viewers in our Polish studio yet, we basically took the studio setup and placed it in the hotel, with an audience area in addition to that.
Bigger Locations & Scaling
Now some might say that we could just host the event in a bigger location, and the additional audience would compensate for the added costs. The issue here is that esports events generally don’t scale very well in that regard. Many events offer free entry or are at least quite cheap. Even if you charged 20 Euro for an event, which is a lot, and sold 300 tickets, that would still only be 6000 Euro - and would not come close to covering the additional cost for location rent and equipment compared to a studio event.
So even after all that, how is it possible for us to host events such as IEM Katowice, where a stadium provided seats for 10,000 fans at no entry cost? In the end, it comes down to the partners we work with. Intel have invested in esports for years and it has become a core part of their global marketing efforts. With the Intel Extreme Masters, they want to go to the biggest events. Katowice was part of that strategy.
So while EMS One gets more established and sponsors start looking at it differently, other opportunities might open up for a venue. For the near future, we still believe that we can improve the production quality a lot without just adding additional spectators at the venue. There are lots of things we did not do as well production wise as we would have wanted to. That will be our main focus for the summer season. For the rest, I hope I have been able to give a better insight into why certain things happen the way they do.