“Our team are trying to solve two Rubik’s Cubes at once while having another one thrown at them that also hasn’t been solved yet,” says Ali Rezvan, head of broadcast for the Esports Awards, revealing what it is like behind the scenes when the broadcast is live.
When the show is on air it takes hundreds of people, this year over 300, to make sure things are running smoothly. From the broadcast team in the production trucks to the staff in the room making sure the presenters and winners make it onto the stage and of course, the team making sure attendees have everything they need to have a good time. While you may only see a handful of staff during the show, there is an army of other folks behind the scenes making sure everything works.
“I would say that for every fire that the audience sees there are probably 100 of them that we’ve had to put out before it makes it to the broadcast, to make sure that the final product is good and watchable,” says Rezvan.
But essentially the event is a live TV show, and live TV never goes to plan, just ask the BBC News team! Sure the hosts may have had to fill time every so often, but with some of the best broadcasters in the industry on stage leading the show that’s not an issue, although they did go in some strange directions at times. Even if we say so ourselves, this year’s broadcast was one of the smoothest yet, and the event overall was without a doubt one of the best we have ever put on.
To be able to pull it all off the work started months ago, with Rezvan and his core team essentially moving to Vegas to get everything in place. Compared to previous years this was the event that took the most pre-preperation for the broadcast to run smoothly. For the first time, we were in a venue that was not designed to host a live broadcast, meaning it had to be set up from scratch.
“A nightclub is not a built-for-broadcast venue,” says Rezvan. “There had to be a lot of adaptations that had to be made to allow us to hold a broadcast in that venue. It wouldn’t have been possible without not only the team at Zouk, but also the teams at The Switch and Infinite Reality Studios. You know, everything from fibre infrastructure to network to audio to video, everything had to be laid down.”
Choosing a venue that requires almost a complete rewiring may not have seemed like an obvious choice, but this year we wanted to make sure that both the viewers at home and the attendees had the best experience possible, and that led us to Zouk. It may have meant we had to put more work in to make the broadcast work to the level we wanted, but it was all worth it to make sure the people on the ground had the best time possible.
“We can go into a TV studio or we can go into a venue that is built for TV, and everything is there, everything’s great, but sometimes the attendee experience isn’t as good,” says Rezavn. “Or we can do what we did, which was go into a venue that was attendee-first focused and adapt that venue into a TV ready, studio, which I’m happy to say that we did, and we were somehow able to pull off in the amount of time that we had.”
Having to start from scratch also meant we could try some new things, and having the F1 in town just before us also provided some fun opportunities. The team that did the drone footage for the Grand Prix extended their licences to provide aerial footage for the awards and the world record attempt, which would not have looked anywhere near as good without them.
“Very quickly, we realised the absolute monstrosity of what we were trying to do [with the world record,]” says Rezvan. “That’s when, in the planning stages, we knew the aerial photography had to be a very large part of how we shoot this. When you go back and watch the stream, we only really take the game full screen a couple of times, the majority of the shots are arial or from the ground because of how big the screen was.”
With all the preparation, rehearsals and expertise of the team who put the awards together, things went smoothly on the night, resulting in what we think is the best show we have ever put on. There are things to be improved for next year and we have learnt a lot, but one thing is for sure, we put on a great event last week and topping it next year is going to be a tough task.
“I think overall, the show was a huge success in the areas that we wanted it to be,” says Rezvan. “This year was a really big turning point for us in refocusing the awards on what it was but also what it can be, which ultimately is one of the only crossover products in esports that fans at home and attendees can get. And I think that this year we massively succeeded in creating a show that belongs to the industry, but also had a moment for everyone.”
We would like to thank all the partners and staff who helped make the show happen, including; Infinite Reality, The Switch, Pendulum Works, Esports Foundry, Luna Remote Systems & Stage House LV.