Esports develops rapidly, gaining new viewers, players, teams, organizations are tournaments every month. All of this couldn’t exist without sponsors, who invested millions into the industry to help esports become bigger and better. That is why the news that ESL signed a contract with Facebook didn’t surprise us. In the same time we were frightened by potential problems since online broadcast toolkit of the world’s largest social network is much lesser compare to Twitch.
The broadcast began with a half an hour delay on the first day, the sound and video quality was extremely bad, lags appeared even with fast internet connection. Professional players Peter ‘ppd’ Dager and Henrik “AdmiralBulldog” Ahnberg started their own stream to comment the tournament on Twitch thus collected a huge amount of viewers — 18.000 and 25.000 at the peak. At the same time official broadcast on Facebook had 5.000 people online in best conditions.
Reddit was in fire and the first impression was spoiled. The entire Dota 2 section on Twitch was full of streams with amateur commentators of ESL One Genting 2018. Esports Charts included them into our statistics and according to our database the amount of viewers didn’t fall compare to the last year, what is strange in such situation.
ESL was the most seriously affected by this problem as an organizer of this competition. Every tournament’s organizer expects a huge attention from community to satisfy the demands of investors and sponsors. ESL began to ban third-party Twitch channels for using tournaments live broadcasting materials, sponsor’s advertisement, illegal rebroadcasting — many streamers suffered subsequently. Valve released a blog in a short time after this and make it clear: only Valve can decide who broke the rules and who should be punished.
Facebook did everything possible to solve all the problems, but it was too late. Official english-language broadcasts from ESL on Facebook had only 69.000 viewers at the peak versus 189.000 at last year’s tournament. Along with unofficial broadcasts, the English-language peak was 90.000 people — still insignificant against ESL One Genting 2017.
The situation was saved by non-english-language broadcasts. Russian broadcasting collected 96.000 viewers at the peak — 15.000 more compare to the last year. It is a suprising fact since Natus Vincere and Virtus.Pro didnt play well at the tournament. In the same time Digital Chaos with famous Roman “Resolution” Fominok won ESL One Genting 2017. The amount of Chinese viewers also increased since Chinese team Newbee played great and won the tournament.
ESL One Genting 2018 clearly demonstrated all the vulnerabilities and negative aspects of the modern broadcasting right system in Dota 2. The conflict between ESL and the community indicates fatal esports prospects — without huge viewer’s activity there will be no huge investments and sponsorships. At the same time Valve made it clear that they are on the side of the community. The future is uncertain.