BLAST’s director of operations on maintaining integrity with online CSGO - Dexerto
CS:GO

BLAST’s director of operations on maintaining integrity with online CSGO

Published: 24/Nov/2020 15:23 Updated: 24/Nov/2020 15:33

by Adam Fitch

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“This time last year our rulebook and our whole setup were based on LAN events,” BLAST’s director of operations and production Andrew Haworth told Dexerto. “We hadn’t really done a huge amount of work on how that would be replicated in an online world.”

Earlier this year, with the global health situation emerging, governments all around the world were forced to reduce the feasibility of hosting events, and thus, they were moved online — halfway through a tournament, in some cases.

Prior to the restrictions, tournament organizer BLAST managed to host their first big competition of the year in February, impressing many and unknowingly hosting what would be one of the only prominent offline events in the 2020 Counter-Strike calendar. They didn’t have the same privilege later in the year, however, as limitations had yet to be permanently relaxed in many locations. Nonetheless, they went on with their plans to host the BLAST Premier Fall Series, albeit online.

Another layer of absurdity was added as a factor of hosting an event, and that was the revelation of a spectating bug that spanned multiple years. With the Esports Integrity Commission — a body devised to maintain the integrity of competitive gaming — issuing bans to dozens of coaches, integrity questions were more prominent than ever during an online era, no less, where it’s harder to monitor the activity of teams and their coaches.

BLAST Premier Fall Series 1
BLAST
Commentators Scrawny and launders arrived at the production location early to accommodate local restrictions.

Haworth’s background working on major music festivals and the Olympics Games means he’s no stranger to crafting contingency plans to put in place in case of a problem arising. Prior to hosting the Fall Series, they went through sessions of scenario testing with key department leads to devise numerous methods of still getting the job done.

Considering BLAST have deployed everything at their disposal to maintain competitive integrity within their events, Dexerto spoke with Haworth to see how they adapted their processes to move to a remote production while monitoring the gameplay itself both in and out of the server.

Going back to esports’ roots

“We were fairly lucky in the timing of the outbreak, we just finished our Spring Series in February and didn’t have another live event till the end of May,” he said. “Other tournament organizers didn’t and were thrown into that halfway through a show. We had a bit of time, purely by luck, to have a look at what we need to do for our Spring Showdown and our Spring Final.”

While esports, like most other sports, is fundamentally an entertainment product, the need for competitive integrity is essential. Fans tune in to watch the best players in the world face off against each other, and that’s no different during an era of online competition.

“If the fans don’t have faith in what we’re putting on if our broadcasters and sponsors don’t have faith in what we’re putting on, and the teams ultimately lose faith in it, then none of us can stand behind it proudly,” Haworth said. “So competitive integrity is in integral to what we do, none of us are arrogant enough to think that we’re perfect in that.

“There may be things that we’re doing now that we’ll review and determine haven’t worked quite as well or are not effective. Some of the things that we have done we want to ensure, while maintaining competitive integrity at all times, doesn’t affect the performance of play. We don’t want to be taking up computer performance for the matches because that isn’t going to gain the right tone with anybody.”

BLAST Premier Fall Series 2
BLAST
The venue had no players in sight, with only production staff and broadcast talent being present.

With a change in circumstance comes a need to change the parameters in which events are run, and that filters all the way down to the gameplay itself. BLAST saw the need to adapt their guidelines early in the year, when LAN events no longer seemed possible, so all of the teams were on the same page.

“The rulebook gets issued at the start of every season, we generally review it and update it after every event,” Haworth said. “We did less of that last year — I think we only made one or two slight revisions from Spring Series into Spring Showdown because the former was very much for a LAN. We also have our competitive integrity policy, which is broadly drawn out of the rulebook and is a short, sharp summary to articulate to what we do. That’s on our website. We’ve worked with experienced tournament officials that have worked with other tournament organizers and in other settings, it’s important to us that they can see elsewhere what has worked, and equally what hasn’t worked, so we can pick up best practices.”

From bad to worse

All partners of ESIC — including the likes of ESL and DreamHack — vow to enforce rulings decided upon by the commission, and that was no different for BLAST. The spectating exploit utilized by at least 37 coaches rocked the CS:GO community and certainly begged the question as to what tournament organizers are doing to ensure fair play is had at all times.

Moving online adds another layer of difficulty to constantly and accurately monitoring the matches played, especially considering tournament officials can’t be present to see how teams are operating with their own two eyes. BLAST believes they’ve reached the pinnacle of monitoring at this precise moment.

“Some of the measures we put in place aren’t perfect but they’re the best available solution we’ve found so far,” Haworth told Dexerto. “There are methods that we’re developing and evolving. We are confident that the measures we have in place currently are giving the desired result in not allowing anybody to manipulate the system or take advantage of it.

“From a coaching bug point of view, the player cams that we’ve put in place have been a really useful feature. That’s something that we looked at, to start with, as a broadcast feature that had some great context and depth. It grew into something that we now utilize to ensure we can see what players are doing.

“We’ve worked with players on camera angles, we have down-the-line shots, coaches have cameras on them and we listen to TeamSpeak for both a broadcast feature and in terms of integrity,” he continued. “The MOss system is far from perfect but it allows us to know what’s open on someone’s computer, there’s a report sent to us post-match with that information.

Moving forward in the face of adversity

Despite having what they believe is a solid solution to both playing online and safeguarding the integrity of the tournament, it would be understandable if a tournament organizer decided to postpone an event due to the recent exploit revelation and subsequent disciplinary rulings. Haworth ensured Dexerto, however, that that wasn’t an eventuality BLAST considered.

BLAST Spike Nations
BLAST
BLAST have undergone plenty of growth in 2020 so far despite the difficulties, expanding into new titles like Valorant and Dota 2.

“We’ve never really moved our date around. We put our 21 days in the international calendar [that’s shared by all CS:GO tournament organizers] in April this year to try and provide full transparency,” he said. “We worked on this straight after the Spring Final, there were a couple of bits that we thought we could include like the coach cams but there were also a couple of things that weren’t ready for the Fall Series. We played around with them but wasn’t sure if it would cause performance issues on players’ PCs so we didn’t want to risk it.”

There’s not the only difficulty in providing a fair and stable environment for the players, BLAST have plenty of staff that are needed to execute a full production. Having staff at home using personal internet lines isn’t the most confidence-inducing prospect, but the company has managed to execute a means of working that allows for maximum efficiency given the circumstances.

While online play, and the copious amount of events that are taking place, may not be ideal, esports has proven to be resilient in the face of extreme and unpredictable challenge. The Fall Series was revered by industry professionals and Counter-Strike fans alike, but it’s clear that BLAST are not resting on their laurels leading up to the next phase of the competition.

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Chipotle Challenger Series 2020: Tune-in, teams, format – stream

Published: 4/Dec/2020 2:00 Updated: 9/Dec/2020 14:09

by Calum Patterson

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The Chipotle Challenger Series returned for the final event of 2020 on December 8, as Fortnite players went head-to-head against a star-studded list of influencers and pro players to win big prizes.

The Top 4 teams from the qualifiers advanced to the finale and surprise teams won the previous tournaments, but this time around it was NRG Edgey’s Trio who came out victorious.

You can check out our event recap of the December 8 Chipotle Fortnite Challenge for highlights from Edgey and company as well as the full results.

Chipotle Challenger Series December Results

Who took part?

The fourth Chipotle Challenger series featured another star-studded lineup of contestants, including:

Streamers / Pro Players

  • Bugha
  • Mongraal
  • Clix
  • NickEh30
  • Nate Hill
  • Ewok
  • Ronaldo
  • ARKHRAM
  • Rehx
  • EpikWhale
  • dubs
  • Reverse2K
  • Emad
  • Zexrow

Celebrities / Athletes

  • Juju Smith-Schuster
  • Tyler Joseph (Twenty One Pilots)
  • Jagger Eaton
  • Heimana Reynolds

Format

Qualifiers

In the Chipotle Challenger Series Fortnite event, there were four qualifiers for teams of three to try to get through. Teams scored one point for each elimination they earned, as well as points for placing.

  • Up to 1000 trio teams
  • Private lobbies for a 3-hour play window
  • Ladder system that allows registrants to play for the whole 3-hour window

Finale

Qualifying teams then had the chance to go head to head in a private lobby with teams of streaming superstars, celebrities and athletes.

  • Top 4 teams from each qualifier advance
  • 17 teams of invited talent
  • Private lobby
  • 5-game series

Chipotle Challenger Series Prize Pool

A total of $50,000 in prize money was up for grabs. But, that’s not all – as with previous events, the top three teams also secured themselves free burritos for a year!

    • 1st: $30,000 + free burritos for 1 year
    • 2nd: $15,000 + free burritos for 1 year
    • 3rd: $5,000 + free burritos for 1 year

Previous Chipotle Challenger Series results

Here’s a look back at how previous events in the Chipotle Challenger series have finished.

Chipotle Warzone Challenge #1 – April 30

Here are the top-10 placing teams for the first Chipotle Challenger Series event. The winners, a surprise team, actually had to go through the qualifier stages to make it to the main event.

Full results & tournament recap

Chipotle Warzone Challenge #2 – July 16

As with the first Challengers Series tournament, the second event on July 16 also featured a relatively unknown pair of Warzone players top the star-studded list of participants, taking home $25,000 and a year’s worth of burritos.

Full results, highlights & recap

Chipotle - Twitch

Chipotle Fortnite Challenge Results – October 1

This time, though, the winners were a little less shocking as Furious, Ronaldo, and illest took home the grand prize – $50,000 and a year’s worth of free Chipotle burritos!

The Trio blitzed through to first place with three extremely high scoring games out of their five in the grand finals. 77 points pushed them just ahead of the second-best team on the day by a total of three points.

Full results & tournament recap.

Chipotle Challenger Series event
Twitch: Chipotle
A look at the top three Trios at the end of the Chipotle Challenger Series event.

What is the Chipotle Challenger Series?

The Chipotle Challenger Series first launched last year at DreamHack in Dallas, TX and is now virtual for 2020 with an online tournament that gives every fan across the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to join the competition and prove their skills in some of the world’s most popular games.

A live-broadcasted Finale is held, featuring the top-performing teams from the Qualifiers up against the streamers and celebrities.

These teams have the opportunity to go head-to-head against fan-favorites in esports as well as Chipotle-fan gamers in sports, music, and entertainment.

Some of the big names that took part in the first tournament of the 2020 Chipotle Challenger Series included award-winning DJ Steve Aoki, actors Finn Wolfhard, Jerry Ferrara, Colton Underwood, and Cameron Fuller, esports players Tommey, Rallied, Shane ‘ShAnE’ McKerral, and Crowder, streamers ItzWarsz, Symfuhny, Di3seL, TSM Diego, and HusKerrs, YouTuber FaZe Swagg, baseball players Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, and Joey Gallo, DJ-Gamer CRAY, USA Hockey’s Hilary Knight, elite basketball prospects James Wiseman, R.J. Hampton, and Tre Jones, U.S. Soccer’s Allie Long, and athlete Demi Bagby.

Chipotle and esports

This is far from Chipotle’s first foray into the world of esports. In 2017 the company made headlines as one of OpTic Gaming’s main sponsors and the Chipotle logo was on proud display when the organization’s Call of Duty roster took home the trophy at the 2017 Call of Duty World League Championship.

The Challenger Series first kicked off at DreamHack Dallas, where players duked it out on PUBG, before moving to Fortnite for the second event at DreamHack Atlanta.

In 2018 Chipotle became a title sponsor of Team SoloMid’s competitive Fortnite roster, specifically the TSM Fortnite house in California. This has led to various collaborations, including one of the world’s most recognized streamers, Ali ‘Myth’ Kabbani, creating his own burrito inside a Chipotle store.

 

More from Dexerto and Chipotle

Best guns in Fortnite: Ultimate weapon tier list

Which guns should you be using – and which should you be avoiding – in Fortnite? Find out everything you need to know about which weapons are the most powerful with our ultimate tier list.

 

Who is CouRage? How an esports fanatic became a streaming legend

Today, CouRage is a streaming superstar – but how did he get there? This is the story of how Jack ‘CouRage’ Dunlop went from a young fan with a passion for esports, to one of Call of Duty’s most iconic commentators, to one of the most popular streamers in the world.

 

10 Fortnite tips for noobs

New to Fortnite? If you haven’t played much of Epic Games’ battle royale juggernaut before, we’ve got some tips that will help you get into the swing of things.

 

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