Esports

How WePlay! Esports is using AR to usher CSGO into a new era

by Andy Williams

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WePlay! Esports hosts events for a variety of games from Dota 2 to Valorant. They’re also no strangers to dabbling with augmented reality in Counter-Strike but now they’re taking their broadcasts to a whole new level.

While some games are destined to flourish under the competitive spotlight, the driving force behind any successful esport is the coverage it receives.

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Games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike have all thrived off the back of high-end, engaging production. As a result, the games have developed an expansive fanbase that keeps coming back for more.

But just how will organizers and production companies continue to evolve their coverage? The answer is technology, and it appears that WePlay! Esports are already ahead of the curve.

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WePlay! Esports Dota 2 Reshuffle Madness.
WePlay! Esports
WePlay! Esports are no strangers to the realm of high-level production, as they bring a wealth of experience from Dota 2.

WePlay! Esports and augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) has been trickling into the way we live our lives for years, and high-end esports production is no different. Having the ability to fuse your surrounding environment with digital elements in real-time provides a much more interactive experience.

With the seemingly endless possibilities that are available with AR, WePlay! Esports are using this as their main ingredient in creating a more fluid and immersive broadcast for viewers — leveraging their coverage and leading esports into a new era of production.

Combining Source Filmmaker with other computer-generated content, WePlay! have innovated a new way for esports to be showcased on the big screen. During the Dota 2 WePlay! Bukovel Minor 2020, the company used drones and AR in perfect harmony to follow players coming into the venue to provide a more realistic spectator experience. Combine this with immersing Dota 2 heroes into the studio during 'pick-ban' segments, and spectators could enjoy a more captivating broadcast.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e89OFq7wWpc

WePlay! Esports use AR to enhance CS:GO coverage

After years of perfecting their craft in Dota 2, WePlay! Esports have recently ventured into other titles, such as CS:GO. Most recently, the company pulled out all of the stops for WePlay! Clutch Island — which saw the top CIS teams battle it out for the lion’s share of $50,000 (USD).

While Natus Vincere walked away with top honors, the event highlight was undoubtedly the next generation of coverage that was displayed as a result of the integration of AR into the broadcast.

The perfect example of this would be the company’s use of AR when displaying player stats during the analysis segments between matches. Being able to visually see the player cards alongside the analysts rendered a much more engaging transition...A far cry from the mundane overlays spectators are used to seeing while waiting for the next segment.

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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. By incorporating AR into all elements of the broadcast, WePlay! Esports provided a fresh look on full post-round analysis. While a two-dimensional birds-eye view of the map is great, being fully immersed and seeing player movements takes it to a whole new level.

During the downtime between maps, James Banks and co. highlighted just how this can work. By essentially having a more ‘hands on’ approach, the analysis breakdown is much easier when illustrated in a three-dimensional view of the map to give a more in-depth insight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV_e8EqnAzc

As time goes on and augmented reality continues to develop, tournament organizers will become more comfortable with incorporating this technology into broadcasts. A task that WePlay! Esports are entirely confident in taking on, as Eugene ‘Hitras’ Shepelev (Lead Esports Manager) told Dexerto.

WePlay! Esports
Eugene ‘Hitras’ Shepelev, Lead Esports Manager at WePlay! Esports.

“While preparing for any event, the WePlay! team has three priorities: providing the best competitive environment for players, ensuring the best experience for the audience, and doing something new that has never been done before. That’s why every event is unique for one reason or another.”

Maksym Bilonogov, General Producer at WePlay! Esports, said, "In the past, you could get an edge by simply having better hardware. Using a better camera, more processing power, etc. defined whether your product was better. Nowadays, every company in this industry can afford the technology needed to stream tournaments.

Man standing with back on brick wall
WePlay! Esports
Maksym Bilonogov, General Producer at WePlay! Esports

"The thing that can set you apart from the competition is your team. The majority of people involved in the production at WePlay! Esports had valid experience or a solid background in television, filmmaking, theater, product design, and other related fields before joining our company. The people I work with are talented, independent, ambitious, and willing to be challenged. In my opinion, the team is the greatest asset our company has."

So with WePlay! Esports leading the way and pioneering the use of AR in first-person shooters, they will be bringing with it a welcomed change to how we absorb esports content and leading the charge into moving CS:GO coverage into a new era.