How to prepare for a tournament in a new discipline? The WePlay! VALORANT Invitational story
Lead Esports Manager Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev and General Producer Maksym Bilonogov talk about tournament planning
From July 13 to 19, 2020, WePlay Esports joined Riot Games to host the first tournament in a new discipline – VALORANT. The event marked the start of the official VALORANT IGNITION SERIES. The developer and publisher behind the new shooter also created the sensational esport, League of Legends.
For this tournament, the team chose a futuristic cityscape:
Lead Esports Manager Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev and General Producer Maksym Bilonogov explain how they prepared for the tournament and share their expressions on it.
Lead Esports Manager at WePlay Esports Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev
It’s been over two weeks since WePlay! VALORANT Invitational ended. How do you feel about the event?
Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev: Learning a new game and organizing its tournament is like trying a new hobby; you feel excited and nervous at the same time. I`m glad that we hosted the VALORANT competition and I think it’s a new path for the company.
Are there any differences in preparing for VALORANT compared to tournaments in other disciplines? Were there any challenges?
Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev: The tournament structure is the same. We announce a prize pool, invite teams, approve event format and dates, set matches, hold the finals, etc.
But if we’re talking about organizational aspects, there are differences. For example, one can organize a CS: GO tournament without discussing details with a game publisher. It doesn't work like that with VALORANT. We carried out WePlay! VALORANT Invitational in partnership with Riot Games while strictly adhering to their standards.
Since the game is new, developers haven’t implemented all of their ideas. For example, one can’t choose a server for both teams when creating a lobby (organizing a match) in VALORANT, at least for now. The thing is, the closer a participant is to a server they are playing on, the smaller the latency (ping) between key presses and in-game actions. Sometimes players organized a match based on their location to ensure teams were on an equal footing.
At the same time, it was easier to prepare for VALORANT since it's a new discipline. There aren’t many tournaments and teams yet.
Did the event meet your expectations in terms of viewership numbers, peak viewership records, etc.?
Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev: I didn’t have huge expectations about the event because it was our debut. In general, I was satisfied with the tournament outcome.
According to statistics from the independent analytical agency Esports Charts, the tournament peaked at 54,021 viewers. The total number of hours watched amounted to 689,945.
How successful do you think the game will become as an esport?
Eugene “Hitras” Shepelev: This is a game from the renowned developer that created League of Legends, which is probably the world’s most successful esports discipline. VALORANT is already popular, so there are high chances of it finding its niche among shooters.
General Producer at WePlay Esports Maksym Bilonogov
What are your impressions of the tournament?
Maksym Bilonogov: I feel great about it. It’s been an interesting experience of working with a new discipline for me and the team.
Did studio team members use new storytelling techniques during the broadcast?
Maksym Bilonogov: We were meticulously preparing for the stream as it was the first tournament in a new discipline. The production team had to figure out how to use the observer client (an official VALORANT tool) and find the best angles to show all the action on the maps. We had to make sure viewers understood all that was going on during a match and kept their attention firmly on each game.
We also used our best practices of broadcasting shooters, particularly, pick & bans and maps.
Additionally, we adapted our AR Set Extension solution for the tournament.
What was your inspiration for the studio decor?
Maksym Bilonogov: We were inspired by the fact that the game takes place in a dystopian future. We thought that references from the movies Ready Player One and Back to the Future would work great for our studio design. A blend of both would create an awesome studio vibe.
The makeup and outfit choices were also inspired by the event theme, right?
Maksym Bilonogov: Of course, our plan was to align the hosts’ look with the studio design.
Do you plan on hosting VALORANT tournaments in the future?
Maksym Bilonogov: We are always ready to collaborate with Riot Games and are looking forward to working on upcoming VALORANT events.