Freelance producer Jason “Alchemist” Baker has shared a bunch of fascinating insights about the evolution of esports event production over the past two decades in an interview with Slingshot Esports, including his advice for companies who aspire to get into the space.
“It’s the game first, then the players, then the fan experience, then everything else. And I mean everything else after that — that becomes talent, what your stage looks like, what your prize money is, all that. Show the game correctly first. Take care of the players. Take care of the fans. And start building from that,” he explained.
“Of course you need good talent for that fan experience, but do you need seven of them? Probably not. Where are you putting your focus?”
Alchemist painted a dizzying portrait of the complex logistics and tribal knowledge required to put on a painless esports broadcast at the highest level, and cautioned against anyone new beginning their work at scale before they understand what they’re up against.
“ELEAGUE had the money and the expertise to start as big as they did. But they did one little qualifier event in Vegas. And I had nothing to do with that one. But they learned a lot. They learned what they didn’t know. And I think that’s important,” he noted.
“We have people come in and go, ‘We want to be the next ESL or MLG. Here’s this event.’ Maybe you should do this weekend online tournament first. Then maybe invite four teams out for a showmatch. Start small. It’s about constantly learning what you don’t know.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Alchemist reflected on the ELEAGUE Major in January, the most-watched Counter-Strike tournament in history and one of the most competitively interesting as well.
You might be surprised to learn that, from the producer’s perspective, Friday at the Fox Theatre “was a complete shitshow”. But the team turned it around and delivered a near-perfect Grand Finals on Sunday.
“I know all three mistakes in that show, but besides that, it was perfect. From the opening, which we rehearsed every evening and sometimes in the morning before it. From the start of the show to the signing off was about as perfect as a live show can get.”
Make sure you read the full interview if you have even a sliver of interest in what goes on behind the scenes at the biggest esports events.