Writer: Felix菜刀刃 of 17173
In this writeup, I’ll only talk about the actual competition at the finals, those that are here for gossip can turn away now.
A few days ago I was able to visit the Mercedes-Benz Center as a representative of a media organization. In name, I was there to report but in reality, I learned and saw more than anything. From the newsroom, to the various nooks and crannies of the venue, to the outer stands, backstage and player/team rest areas, media areas, I saw it all. More importantly, I was put up in 4 and a half star level accommodations, and with it came foreign waitstaff for breakfast, direct rides to and from the venue, and unlimited fruit and salad in the media room. So, okay, I guess you could consider my words below to be ‘soft’ for a reason, but I swear that all of it is the truth.
This is my response to that trending “7 best” piece written by a fan about G-League earlier this week (Dotaland note: this is referring to a satire piece written by a fan that criticized everything at the G-League — will summarize the criticisms in italics for each point)
First let’s talk ticket pricing. 100 RMB to go watch G-League, worth it or not? The fan piece compared G-League with StarsWar, WCG, and while this is certainly a legitimate angle from which to look at things, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to look at it. First off, the venue for G-League is none other than the Mercedes-Benz Center. To be able to attend an event at a world-class facility such as this one, no matter if the event is a concert, or a sporting match, or a performance, 100 RMB is the absolute bottom line, or close to it. Secondly, the total investment towards G-League has topped 1 million RMB, and unlike other competitions, G-League does not have Grandpa Samsung, or Papa Tencent — ticket sales are a precious income stream. Third, live attendance at G-League was around 70%, so the argument that the tickets had been incorrectly priced seems to lose its strength based on that figure alone. Ticket pricing is one of those things where each person has their own limit, so let’s just recognize that and move on.
Service (no service at all, bad food, extortion pricing, long lines, everyone went hungry, made worse by the fact that spectators were not allowed to come back in if they went out to get food, and were not allowed to bring food in on their own in the first place)
The fan piece sarcastically pointed out the lack of food and refreshments, this is something that I also felt similarly on. I experienced a 15 RMB combo, which consisted of a piece of pure bread, and a cup of heavily watered down cola, what a rip off. For me, luckily I got to eat and drink as I pleased in the media room in back. Clever fans in the stands would have all snuck their own food in, but those that were too honest would only leave the night feeling famished. On this problem, even if Gamefy wanted to do soemthing, they’d face difficulties. For one, a venue like this wouldn’t ever allow events to freely hand out food and drink and thus affect the venue’s own food and drink business, and for another, it’s not as if Gamefy has the resources and manpower to feed some ten thousand spectators. If you think about it, this kind of thing is pretty common at all events of this size, and the real issue that caused this to be magnified was the fact that the finals competition took too much time, and I’ll address this next.
Competition schedule (long, tedious scheduling from 9am to past 10pm)
Four best-of-5s in a single day has never happened before, as the fan piece claims? In actuality, it happened at TI2. At TI2, for three days straight it was competition from 10 in the morning to 11 at night, for a total of 8 best-of-3s, 14 best-of-1s, and 1 best-of-5. All in all I counted 40 matches, averaging out to 13 matches a day. G-League was four best-of-5s, for a total of 16 matches, and in addition, I’m sure we all realize the difference in time required for an average match in SC2 or Warcraft3, compared with Dota2. So, like this, if the fan piece suggests that those who went to G-League should win an iron-man award, they should only get second place, as the fans in America for TI2 deserve first place. The scheduling was one of TI2’s few weaknesses, and we hear that this next time Valve will make improvements on it. In the same vein, BBKing has promised on weibo that G-League will compress their scheduling in the future as well.
Commentators (poor sound quality, poor hype and excitement, shallow)
This one I mostly agree with the fan piece. The sound quality in the venue had some problems, in some positions (such as where I was sitting), things were hard to hear because of echoing (I paid attention in middle school physics, ha). In most other places it was alright. Another issue was that at certain times, the commentators would be drowned out by the live crowd. Apart from raising the audio level, the commentary was also lacking in excitement and hype compared to Western and Korean counterparts, this has been a long-standing problem in Chinese commentators. As someone who has occasionally made cameos as a commentator, however, I understand that without 100% commitment and talent, it’s very difficult to do, so I won’t say more.
Interaction (weak, forced, lack of interaction and viewing of actual players and teams)
First of all, compared to WCG, the lack of interaction and close-ups with teams and players is something that comes down more to the venue itself. If you’re attending an NBA match, unless you’re at the players’ tunnel or you have courtside seating, you’d also lack any chance to get to see players up close. This is the same with G-League; with the situation at G-League, it would’ve been quite a disaster to attempt to allow ten thousand fans to go up and approach players for autographs. Here I want to make a small suggestion, perhaps we can arrange in the future a day before or after the event itself for player-fan interaction — for example a signing session, to allow room for interaction between players and fans? This could be something to consider in the future.
VIPs (live audience didn’t appreciate the singers, awkward)
It must be noted, our VIP performers were really very gracious. Their final performance was delayed by an hour, yet they still came out and performed all their songs very professionally. Maybe it was because I was in the lower stage and closer to the performance, but it seemed to be pretty good atmosphere down there. I could see outer stage spectators having trouble getting into it though. It has to be said though, Gamefy displayed some bold vision in combining big name performers with a finals event like they did. Additionally, the choices were fitting and suitable, and their styles seemed to match the kind of mentality that ‘esports’ displays — one of independence and chasing one’s own dreams, and the two worked together excellently. Overall, this try at a new thing was quite successful, and other competitions could learn from this.
Promotion (unrealistic, false advertising, exaggerated)
Not much to say about this one — the claim of “ten thousand” wasn’t off at all, no exaggeration there. My own estimate is that at the peak, attendance was around 15000, of course this might not be accurate. But those fans that I spoke with at the event all felt that it was over ten thousand. Considering max capacity of the venue was 18000, and the report was that it awas 70% attendance, these numbers all line up. As for forum fans claiming that only a few hundred people showed up: the inner stage alone held over a thousand people. I believe that the other at least 9000 people weren’t all planted there by Gamefy, nor were they holographic premonitions.
In the past I’d written pieces criticizing ACE League. Even though it wasn’t directed at the organizers, GTV, thinking back on it now I realize that that wasn’t the nicest of things to do, so here I extend an apology to those affected. The other thing was Gamefy’s daily show criticizing WCG. Nonetheless, no matter if it’s ACE or WCG, or G-League, everyone is working hard to advance esports in China, so let’s think from each other’s points of view.
If I were to give G-League a score out of ten, from a competition organizer’s perspective, I give it a full 10. The reason being, for an event like this, execution is much harder than it seems on paper. G-League not only brought to reality an unprecedented level of production, they also went beyond and managed things I had never even thought of before. There’s a slang saying that “if your steps are too big then you risk failure”, and G-League’s accomplishments here have been amazing, so I hope we can all give them more time with the weaknesses.
I don’t know if you all have this feeling, the one where you’re full of hope and energy and ready to chase your dreams, only to find that those around you have succeeded in doing so first. When I stepped into the Mercedes-Benz Center and looked up to see everything on the giant LED screens in the air, that was the feeling I had. It was joyous, envy, and a sense of loss. (Dotaland note: the writer of this, Felix, works with 17173 and G-1 League)
Competition organizers don’t need consolation, nor do they need sympathy, but they cannot lack the support of fans. Players and fans are our true deities, our god.