CZ Minutes: EVE-Sport

With Worlds Collide recently in the books and Alliance Tournament XIII already on people’s lips (and EFTs), the debate on EVEs health as an E-sport is again brewing. The opinions range from apathetic to enthusiastic; some argue that EVE is not well suited as a spectator sport, while others think it has a bright future. Meanwhile, EVE Valkyrie is not only talked about as a potential E-sport, but CCP seem to be angling that way as well. What is the future of EVE Online as an E-sport? What signals have you seen from CCP and what do you make of them? What would you change to make it better? What potential do you see in EVE Valkyrie, or even Dust/Legion as an E-sport? Tarek: The problem with EVE as an e-sport is that the things which happen during a match are so complex and obscure for the uninitiated that it is hardly possible to understand what is happening if you are not playing EVE yourself. Even for EVE players it is often difficult enough and sometimes the expert commentators themselves are challenged to explain what happens. It can be super exciting if you are into tactical small-gang PvP but that is about as far as it goes. I doubt it has any potential to attract many people from outside the game, particularly because the tournament setup is far removed from general gameplay in terms of rules and technicalities. Valkyrie could work really well though. During fanfest they had group duels projected on big screens and those were actually quite nice to watch even if you don’t understand how the game works and what it is about. A cockpit view from a starfighter with two or three different weapon systems can be understood on an intuitive level and it just provides an immediately exciting action POV. Neville Smit: I love the Alliance Tournament. They teach me things, but mostly from the expert commentary by the moderators, rather than from watching the actual fight. They have come a long way over the last few years, with the addition of on-screen graphics to show ship damage and relative margin of victory, which make it much easier to see which side is winning, but it’s still almost impossible to appreciate the tactical maneuvers or positioning as the match is progressing. EVE Online does not lend itself well to that level of observation by outsiders, and as a result, it’ll never be a great e-sport. Candidly, the main thing that holds my interest when watching the Alliance Tourneys is that I’m heavily invested in wagers on Valkyrie, on the other hand, would work better as a spectator sport. I agree with Tarek – watching the 1-on-1 duels displayed side by side on the big screen was a lot of fun. It’s easier to understand and appreciate what is going on. I don’t see it working very well as a team e-sport, though. Bob Shaftoes: You guys have hit the nail on the head regarding the biggest problem facing an Eve online esports competition, and that is viewability. I agree that with the current set up it is basically impossible to grasp what is going on in a tournament match. I have had several conversations with the tournament team at CCP on what be done to make EVE tournaments more watchable and it boiled down to a few things:
  • Better camera work – All of the camera work in any major CCP EVE tournament is done by devs. Sadly these devs tend to focus on things that are inconsequential to the outcome of the match and look at the “pretty lights” as opposed to the substance of what is going on. In an ideal world an “untethered” camera client would do a lot to increase the viability of E-sports in eve and would hopefully allow the viewers to accurately see what is going on , but these cameras really need to be manned by players who know what to look for in order to make things entertaining for viewers.
  •  A better UI for displaying information during the match. Viewers need a better way of seeing what ewar is being applied to a particular ship and by whom. Vector arrows showing direction and speed of movement by ships would also make it clear where ships are going.
  • More emphasis needs to be put on the teams and the players than merely on the ships and the comps on the field. Most of the actual pilots in tournament play , barring a few famous faces , are essentially unknown. If you can create hype , you get more viewers. A good example of this was the yacht released as a prize for worlds collide , both servers had an investment in the outcome of the match and we got something like 10k people on stream as a direct result.
If such changes were implemented I feel that EVE would have a fighting chance of becoming at least a moderately popular e-sports platform and would attract the attention and sponsors it needs for CCP to take tournament play seriously and give us more tools to run our own events. Apoth: I wrote a thing. Nashh Kadavr: EVE E-sports is one of the biggest pulls for me personally, I look forward to the alliance tournament every year and am very disappointed the NEO tournament will not make a return. Having played in the AT myself a few years ago I understand the thrills and excitement involved with this prestigious event but also understand that as a spectator it is at times, difficult to see what is really happening; some of the tactics or fittings used cannot not be seen and thus its hard to get the full picture other than ships exploding on either side. There is a big interest in EVE E-sports, specifically in the PVP community. This interest needs attention but at the end of the day, the value a tourney brings to a company like CCP, needs to be worth the effort and money invested. NEO died because its low views on twitch didn’t make it financially viable to continue. The Alliance Tournament has a decent budget and as a marketing exercise clearly still pays for itself, for now. To me the future of EVE E-sports is clear; this needs to be player led, and only  if successful have CCP support. As with player gatherings, each tourney or event will have to prove itself to be worthy of CCP’s time and effort before their support can be expected. Together with Bei Artjay and Bob Shaftoes I will be hosting a tournament in front of a live audience twice a year at #EVE_NT. In February I managed to get over £3000 of prizes from sponsors and CCP, things like apparel, gaming equipments and game-time. Hopefully as CCP recognises the quality and efforts put into this type of event their sponsorship and participation will increase also.
Tags: alliance tournament, cz minutes, e-sport

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12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.