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

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

Published: 7/Aug/2020 17:51

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

CS:GO

CSGO’s 6th man: Why super subs proved key at BLAST Global Final

Published: 25/Jan/2021 20:30 Updated: 25/Jan/2021 20:36

by Marco Rizzo

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BLAST Global Final kickstarted CSGO’s 2021 calendar with a bang, as NAVI bagged some silverware and the bulk of a $1 million prize pool. They won the event using a 6th man on their squad, but was it the difference-maker?

NAVI came into the Global Final event with a chip on their shoulder. Following their peak at IEM Katowice, the CIS squad ended 2020 with a flurry of disappointing results. So their 2021 needed to start strong if they were going to avoid one of CS:GO’s inevitabilities — a roster shuffle.

After losing their first game to a refreshed Team Liquid, NAVI built up the momentum of their war machine on their way to the final — losing just two maps during their emphatic Lower Bracket run.

BLAST Global Final: A tale of AUGs and substitutes

s1mple-blst-premier-global-finals-mvp
BLAST Premier
S1mple claimed the MVP for BLAST Premier Global Final.

A trend that might be worrying for some is the reemergence of the AUG. CTs were using the scoped weapon more frequently as the tournament progressed — allowing defenders to hold tighter angles.

One of the most important points to take from the event, however, is the prevalence (and relative success) of teams using a sixth man across the tournament.

In fact, other than FURIA — who were affected by Paytyn ‘Junior’ Johnson’s visa issues — all the teams that utilized an extended roster placed high at the Global Final. But is having a substitute in your ranks the secret sauce for Counter-Strike success in 2021? Let’s have a look at BLAST’s top three.

Are Astralis doing it right?

Astralis-second-place-blast-global-finals
ELEAGUE
The Danes finished runners up after being swept 0-2 by NAVI.

It’s fair to say that Astralis looked vulnerable all throughout the tournament, having struggled their way past both G2 Esports and Team Vitality.

But their roster situation is complicated. In their hands, they have one of the most promising talents of 2020 in the form of Lucas ‘Bubzkji’ Andersen.

With that said, the young Dane only appeared in one game of Nuke at the event. With Astralis slowly moving away from Nuke due to recent results, you have to wonder how much of Bubzkji we will see in the future. There’s only so much of being The Danes’ Nuke specialist a young talent can take, right?

The world number one seem to have stagnated in their signature maps of Inferno and Nuke of-late. Their inability to ‘spice-up’ their setups using their aggressive, young prodigy could be considered one of their reasons for it.

If Astralis are serious about keeping their young star, they’ve surely got to find a way of integrating him on more than just one map in an event. Bubzkji’s aggressive playstyle would no doubt suit the brand of online Counter-Strike we have become accustomed to. And when compared with Team Vitality’s way of dealing with a sixth player, Astralis have a long way to go. 

Nivera: Vitality’s not-so-secret weapon

Team Vitality CSGO
Team Vitality
Team Vitality have led the way with Nivera as their sixth man.

Vitality have built a great rotational system within their squad. Using Kévin ‘misutaaa’ Rabier and Nabil ‘Nivera’ Benrlitom, they’ve managed to slowly (but surely) flesh out their map pool.

The effectiveness of Vitality’s experiment with a rotating roster should not be underestimated. They currently hold a positive win rate on every map in their current pool against top 30 opposition. While this statistic does not mean they have mastered every map, just being comfortable with their setups on a map their opposite number isn’t, is half of the battle.

While Vitality’s super subs failed to perform during BLAST Global Final, the ways in which their coaching staff has been utilizing them has generally been successful. This should serve as an example for other teams experimenting with extended squads.

What next for NAVI and B1t?

NAVI at IEM Katowice 2021
ESL
IEM hoisted the trophy in Katowice, but fell off a cliff towards the latter stages of 2020.

The CIS squad is the most recent top team to embrace the sixth man approach, with Valerii ‘B1t’ Vakhovskyi subbing in for Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilev on Inferno. While not initially impressive in his opening game at the Global Final, the Ukrainian improved his performance significantly as the tournament progressed.

Was B1t the key? No. Did he make a difference, I’d say yes. Just the added fluidity brought in by B1t’s do-or-die approach was enough to catch some teams off-guard.

If we consider Vitality’s approach as the shining example, Head Coach Andrii ‘B1ad3’ Gorodenskyi should now look towards Mirage and Dust 2. As two of NAVI’s weakest maps, B1t might just be the upgrade in firepower they need to bolster their ranks.

With all of that said, there is an argument both for and against six man rosters. On the one hand, a team that is well-drilled in their fundamentals and comfortable in their system could utilize a sixth player — an x-factor to throw opponents off-scent without significantly impacting their overall performance.

On the other, a squad that draws their advantage from great personal chemistry on the server (such as Fnatic) could have their entire framework ruined by trying to force a rotation of players in their team.


This is an exciting time for CS:GO… There’s no denying that mid-series substitutes add a level of excitability for the spectator — it’s been a long time since we saw a change in how teams are composed and organized. So far Vitality are leading the way in terms of innovation, but will anyone be able to surpass them?