Controversy has dogged ESL-ESEA’s big, $250,000 invitational in Dubai since its announcement one month ago. And now the event is actually here, that hasn’t changed.
Technical problems and complaints over changes to the schedule have affected the start of the event in Dubai. As the eight-team invitational got underway, fans worldwide were surprised by the use of online casters, while local spectators at the venue had no way to watch the event.
Originally supposed to start at 7pm local time, the event’s scheduled was later changed to start six hours earlier due to the inclusion of more teams and longer match formats. These changes were made after ESL was criticized by fans and players for not initially inviting TSM and for having best-of-one matches for the group stages.
The earlier games were moved indoors due to the midday heat—currently at over 100 degrees fahrenheit. Spectators who turned up at the new start time were turned away, with the staging area not yet finished and no screens showing the event.
ESL said that though it could move the players inside at this point, there were now no facilities for the on-site casters: including Leigh “Deman” Smith, Anders Blume and Lauren “Pansy” Scott. So instead, the earlier games were cast online by Daniel ‘dabo0’ Boo & Niels Christian ‘NaToSaphiX’ Sillassen.
In a post on Reddit, ESL’s Anna Rozwandowicz blamed the lack of viewing area and unexpected casters on the changes to the format.
On top of all that, ESL has also been battling technical problems which led to over an hour of delays to the event getting underway.