Aug 14 2014 - 5:09 pm

Destiny I proves crowdfunding can work for esports

In 2010, StarCraft 2 was poised to bring esports to the masses
William Turton
Dot Esports

In 2010, StarCraft 2 was poised to bring esports to the masses. The previous iteration of the game, StarCraft: Brood War, had been broadcasted on national television to millions of viewers in Korea. But after a surge in popularity in the two years that immediately followed its release, the sequel has since sputtered. Its professional scene is wilting.

As of July 2014, Blizzard’s World Championship Series averages a paltry 10,000 viewers per broadcast. The game and the esports scene around it still lives on, but on a significantly smaller scale compared to esports giants League of Legends or Dota 2, whose streams regularly bring in over 100,000 viewers.

With dwindling viewership, turning a profit on a StarCraft 2 tournament seems next to impossible.

Enter former pro and community figure Steven “Destiny” Bonnell.

On July 3, Bonnell launched an IndieGoGo campaign for a tournament he called Destiny I. He laid out every expense the tournament would need, including prices for commentators, prize pool and web design. In exchange for financial support, Bonnell offered perks: He'd hug you for $10, or promote your Twitch stream for $100, or even give StarCraft 2 lessons for $200. His initial goal was $5,500, and Bonnell was always confident he'd hit it.

“I have a pretty good reputation in the community and this was the first crowd-funded tournament I'd ever attempted," he said. "So I figured I'd be able to raise money for the first one pretty easily.”

On July 21, the fundraiser ended. He'd raised $5,909.

“Rather than stand by and watch as fans drop off from the game as the amount of quality content being produced decreased, I'd rather step in and produce some high quality content of my own.” Bonnell told me.

As soon as the tournament hit its goals, Bonnell embarked on a month of preparation. Collaboration alongside an artist, a translator, a web designer and sponsors proved to be a difficult logistical task.

“The most difficult part, funnily enough, was probably deciding on a date that worked for all of the players," Bonnell said.

He used pages of hand-written notes to map out the tournament.

According to his plans, each day of the tournament would feature a different commentator alongside Bonnell. Some of the biggest professional players and commentators soon committed to casting the tournament, including Geoff “Incontrol” Robinson, Yolan “ToD” Merlo and Chad “Minigun” Jones.

Preparing the tournament was so exhausting Bonnell almost walked away. The days leading up to it, Bonnell said, were some of the "darkest" days of his life. He slept on average two hours a night. On Saturday, Aug. 9,  the day before the final, a series of unfortunate events unfolded. The tournament admin had missed a day of work, leaving Bonnell to work with two Korean players with limited English. Meanwhile, Bonnell’s internet service provider throttled his upstream bandwidth, making it next to impossible to stream. Community figure and popular YouTuber John “TotalBiscuit” Bain stepped in to help broadcast and commentate the tournament that day.

Even with that help, the combination of personal issues and a grueling tournament schedule left Bonnell fatigued.

I'm sure I could have came back later and had the games played off stream or something, but being overly emotional, extremely tired, starved from a terrible eating schedule, and now stressed due to lag problems, I was in a terrible state of mind.

But it all worked out. The viewers showed up. Destiny I was the third most popular StarCraft 2 event on Twitch this month, with a peak viewership of 27,604 viewers.

Following the final, Bonnell took another step that most tournament organizers avoid. A full financial report was released detailing every expense of the tournament and where the backer’s money went.  

His take? $1,800. Some would argue this is a modest amount for the work that went into the tournament.

Bonnell said he'll probably keep the crowd-funding model going. Destiny II may focus on North America and Europe, he said, rather than focusing on all three regions. "This isn't to spite KeSPA," he said, referring to the organization that oversees esports in Korea. "But it would allow me to push my tournament back four hours or so."

For that tournament, he may fundraising goal to $10,000. Small tournaments like these show that there is still a market for StarCraft 2. And when the tournament organizer rewards backers with transparency reports and allows them to have a role in the decision making process, the fans will always come back.

Photo via Destiny I

Jan 18 2017 - 10:32 pm

OpTic, Cloud9 join line-up for IEM Katowice

With only half of the CS:GO teams in place, the event is already looking stacked.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

Less than two weeks after the first Valve Major of the year, some of the strongest teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be making their way to Katowice for a shot at yet another impressive $250,000 prize pool.

North American elite squads OpTic Gaming and Cloud9 will be joining the previously invited teams at IEM Katowice from March 1-5, ESL announced today. The two North American teams will make an already-stacked event all the more competitive, as reigning Valve Major champions SK Gaming—alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, and Virtus Pro—have already been invited to attend.

OpTic and Cloud9 shocked the world towards the end of 2016, each taking home one international LAN tournament each. Cloud9's performance was particularly impressive. Their victory at the ESL Pro League Season 4 finals last October was the first international LAN victory for the North American region in nearly 11 years.

While these teams alone make the event stacked, they are only half of the teams that will be competing at IEM Katowice, as 12 teams in total will be fighting for the title. Two more teams are still slated to be invited, while an additional three teams from Europe and one more North American team secure their participation at the event through online qualifiers.

CS:GO is off to a hot start in 2017, and with more skilled teams around than ever before IEM Katowice is looking to become one of the most anticipated events of the year.

Jan 18 2017 - 9:07 pm

Yes, SKT played Ziggs ADC in a competitive game—and they dominated with him

The current League world champs show us all how OP bot-lane Ziggs can be.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

ADC Ziggs has been spreading like the plague (a really, really annoying plague) through ranked games in League of Legends over the past few weeks, and SK Telecom T1 reminded everyone why they’re the World Champions by taking him into a League Champions Korea game—and destroying their opponents with him.

Jin Air, the team that fell at the hands of the mighty ADC Ziggs in the LCK earlier today, probably thought that SKT’s Bae ‘Bang’ Jun-sik was joking around when he hovered over Ziggs in Champ Select. Surely Ziggs is only a troll pick that streamers play to entertain their audiences or that Bronze players choose because they saw Shiphtur do it once, right? Right?

Wrong.

The irritating, familiar sound of Ziggs saying “This’ll be a blast!” rang loud as Bang locked him in, ready to take the AP terror down into the bot lane. It was a bloody sight to see, as Bang dominated his lane opponents. At the end of the laning phase, Bang had 3-0’d his adversary as the explosive-crazed Yordle. He won trades, outplayed tower-dives, and showed us all just how possible it is to take an AP mage into a role overrun by Marksman champions and thrive.

Was it because Ziggs is OP in that particular position? Was it, perhaps, because the state of ADCs is so pathetic that you can take any old champion into that role and do better than a traditional ADC? Actually, it’s a little bit of both.

This Ziggs pick may begin a trend of meta-breaking within professional play, and because of that casual players will follow suit. Soon, we may see more mages in bot lane, more marksmen up top, and even some supports pick Janna in the jungle.

Ziggs is an important lesson for the future of League. Playing him in the highest level of competition suggests that there may be more instances like this Ziggs game—where pro players figure out ways to use unorthodox champion picks to their advantage.

Sometimes, the meta doesn’t have to be followed—if you can find another champion to play a specific role well enough. A few seasons ago, after all, you’d dodge a ranked lobby if you saw a Rumble lock the jungle role, and now you wouldn’t bat an eye.

Love him or hate him, Ziggs is here to stay, and since the god-team of SKT has now played him in a pro game, you can expect even more ADC Ziggs appearances in your Bronze ranked games. He even has the second highest win percentage out of any other ADC, according to League stats website Champion.gg. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble winning against him, you could always go ADC Syndra.